Music has always been a big part of my life. I was in band and choir in high school, and growing up my house was filled with the sounds of my dad playing guitar as I sang or my mom playing piano. When I was in 8th grade, I took an interest in learning how to play the guitar. As I got older, schedules got busier and it seemed as though there was less time for music. I was beginning to miss singing along with my dad as he played. So I decided that if I learned to play myself, I could carry both roles. It became a personal goal. I just told myself, “I’m going to teach myself to play guitar” and that was it. I still remember the first night I picked up my dad’s guitar and sat down to attempt to play. My fingers were not used to it, and I became frustrated that I could hear the songs in my head, but could not play them at the right tempo. I just kept picking away at it, both figuratively and literally, and after about a year, I was playing beginner songs with ease. Almost seven years later, playing the guitar has become one of my favorite pastimes.
-Creativity- While learning to play the guitar, I have written several of my own songs. Learning to play guitar has allowed me to tap into the creativity necessary to write them.
-Importance of Teamwork- I was a member of my church’s youth praise band for about a year when it was first started. We had four singers, a drummer, and I was on guitar. The band relied on me to know the chords and strumming patterns, as I was our only source of instrumental music. I had to know my parts in order for the band as a whole to succeed.
-Self motivation- Since no one was forcing me to learn to play guitar, I was totally relying on my own motivation to reach my goal. It was up to me to be willing to practice, and keep pushing myself to improve.
-Improved Time Management Skills- When I am playing the guitar on my own, it is something which I can do on my own time whenever I choose. However, with the youth praise band, I had to make time to attend weekly practices for about two hours every Sunday. I also had to make time during the week to individually practice my own parts so that I would be ready to contribute my best playing ability to the group during the Sunday practices.
When I was a college student, my life was very busy. Between classes and homework, as well as extra curricular activities, it seemed like there were never enough hours in the day. At times, the pressure to succeed and balance all of the events of the day was be very stressful. Down-time was often hard to come by. Even now, in the real world, personal and work obligations keep me on my toes. When I do find a spare moment, playing my guitar is my first choice activity. Music is a way for me to escape and clear my head during that time.
Perseverance Pays Off. I never took any formal lessons while learning to play guitar. Apart from a few helpful hints from my dad, I am self-taught. There were many times while learning to play where I could have easily given up. I suffered sore fingers, had difficulty remembering chord fingerings, had to learn new chords, and had to be patient with myself. Despite all of this, I loved every second of learning. Why? I made it fun for myself. I taught myself new chords by learning songs that I liked. If my fingers were too sore, I’d take a day off or ‘air guitar,’ practicing putting my fingers in the right place and strumming the correct patterns. I just kept trying, and eventually I was able to do it. I learned that I can do anything if I really want it badly enough.
Music is a huge part of my life. It is my way to escape from stress and everyday worries. Learning to play has opened doors to new opportunities. I have written my own songs, been a guitarist for a band, and I had the opportunity to play and sing a set at a local community event. My biggest moment, however, was at my high school choir spaghetti dinner senior year. My choir director allowed me to sing and play one of my own songs in between one of my choir performances. It was such a thrill to be able to share something that I had worked at for so long in front of family and friends. Knowing how to play the guitar is something that I will be able to use forever. Not only has it been a way for me to reduce stress and relax, it has also allowed me to connect with other people who share my love of music, and it is my hope that I can inspire others to pick up a guitar, so they too can experience the joy that comes with music. Bono said “Music can change the world, because it can change people.” I, for one, agree.