Learning To Play The Guitar – Part One

Shortly after the beginning of the lockdown, I bought myself a guitar.

It’s semi-acoustic Harley Benton from Thomann, semi-acoustic meaning it can be also plugged into an amplifier. I liked the color and shape, to be honest, and I also liked the overall price / quality rapport, those were the main criteria when I bought it, for about 100 EUR. As a beginner, I didn’t want to spend too much because it seemed like a waste (would you buy a Ferrari if you don’t know how to drive?), but didn’t want to get a very cheap, and potentially unusable guitar either. I ordered it at the end of March and it arrived in just a couple a days.

Buying a guitar was something I was longing to do for a very long time, and never managed to. It was either slipping outside of the monthly budget, because there was some emergency popping in, or it was just postponed month after month. But after spending an entire week alone in my tiny apartment, at the very beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, I decided it’s time to put that time alone to good use.

Surprisingly, my entire time and focus were abruptly redirected into something else shortly after the guitar arrived, so I didn’t really get to learn too much. A couple of days ago, I managed to get back a big chunk of that redirected time and focus, and decided to restart my learning routine. To make sure I’ll stick to it, this time, I decided to write short updates every few weeks. This also fits into my blogging challenge quite well.

The Basics

Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye, Eddie – that’s the first thing I learned, and it’s basically a funny mnemonic for the chords: EAD – GBE. I am learning by watching YouTube tutorials, and started with the most basic ones, I think it’s something about playing a song in 10 days. Those seems to be pretty long days, because, as surprising as it may sound, after 2 months I’m still at day 3. Hopefully, that is about to change. I also downloaded Yousician, but didn’t use it yet.

I also learned how to tune the guitar, using the electric tuner that came with it (along with some plectrums). Still unable to tune it by ear, and that’s something that I want very much too learn. When I was little, I was told many times that I don’t have a “musical ear”. I heard that so many times that I probably started to believe it.

Where I Am And Challenges

I can play just two or three chords right now and I can barely make transitions. I also think I can do the harmony for “Born in the USA”, but even that is a bit unstable. My fingers are still soft on their tips, so more practice is needed.

The biggest challenge is a physical one: my left arm isn’t my best one, so to speak, so playing the chords is hard, at least in the beginning. Coordination is a challenge and finding the right spot and the right amount of pressure is still difficult. And frustrating too, at times. Also, if I don’t play too much time – like for the last 2 months – what I learned tends to vanish quickly.

Beyond the coolness of being able to play an entire song on a guitar, which is clearly one of the goals of this project, there is another reason I started it: improving my brain functions. I’ve read in many places that playing a musical instrument (as well as learning to dance) improves brain capacity big time and I’m curious if there will be a visible change in that area. Still unsure how I will be able to measure it, but I guess there will be some signs.

All in all, that was my first update. Have to go now, there’s some guitar practice waiting for me.

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