Why learn guitar?

Recently I was asked by a friend why I play guitar. Why don’t I use that time to do something more constructive? After all playing guitar doesn’t save lives or make you rich (unless you are lucky of course) or make you physically fit.  I said it might be better to rephrase the question by asking why I learn guitar because I believe learning is a much better description of what I do.


I have been learning guitar for approximately 30 years and as any experienced guitarists knows the learning never stops. In fact its this never ending learning that keeps it interesting. So when the question of ‘why’ was posed I decided to give it some thought and write a blog as a way of maybe inspiring other guitarists to share their why or at the very least to ponder the question. So here goes.


As a child listening to music from Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Van Halen etc would captivate my attention for hours. I could listen to certain songs over and over again. It was as though the music had some kind of unexplainable allure. I was initially attracted to the drums but later moved to guitar. I guess the idea of learning guitar was more about unraveling the mystery of the music. Overtime I began to understand the fundamental building blocks of music but as with science the more you learn the more you realise there is to learn. I can distinctly remember at one point guitar seeming like a relatively simple instrument considering most songs are written using only a handful of chords but then my teacher at the time turned my attention to jazz and players like Joe Pass who seem to know more chord shapes than words in the English language. How was this possible? This is just one example and we can apply the same idea to scales, rhythm and guitar techniques. As you move across the different guitar styles you also discover a whole range of new ideas, concepts and techniques that in most cases take a lifetime to master. As you can see its never ending.


To my friend who asked the question of why I can say that learning guitar is like a hunger that is satisfied after an hour or two a day of practice and discovery but of course the very next day I am hungry again. Like food in most cases its satisfying although not always but if my guitar appetite is left unsatisfied I soon become irritable.

David Hart – Program Director


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