Guitar Hero

New Year, new leaf. As resolution time is upon us, we get to thinking about the promises we make to ourselves— to turn our downtime into something enriching, productive, healthy.  Or to make more time for enriching, productive, healthy things.

Music fans all of us, many probably took lessons as young kids…on the recorder perhaps, clarinet… piano. And then, over time, and without practice- like sands through the hourglass, so went our ability to read and play music.

Dr Anita Collins, award-winning educator and researcher in music education, produced a Ted talk on the impact that playing music has on one’s brain: “Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout…… Playing an instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once — especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices. And, as in any other workout, disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions, allowing us to apply that strength to other activities…Playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the brain’s corpus callosum — the bridge between the two hemispheres — allowing messages to get across the brain faster and through more diverse routes. This may allow musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively, in both academic and social settings.”

As They Might Be Giants once sang “You’re older than you’ve ever been. And now you’re even older.  And now you’re even older. And now you’re even older.” So what better time to turn over a new leaf and learn or re-learn a new instrument?  The perfectly named Sally Keys has made it easy for us. Straightforward and engaging, “How to Play Guitar: The Fool’s Gold Method” is Keys’ step-by-step take on the process.  She reminds us “You need to develop the proper muscle memory to get your fingers to fly, and this takes time. Just like learning how to type requires you to start with hunting and pecking until you can build up speed, playing guitar requires you to move slowly at first until your brain can figure things out and wire the neural pathways needed.”

It’s an ideal go-to for those looking to dip their toes back in (and those ready to add callouses to their fingers). Keys’ overview serves as an inspiring reminder of how easy it can be to re-engage in a lost hobby…even if along the way, we exclaim, Helter Skelter style, “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”

Check it out at

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