5 Reasons Why You Should Start Playing an Instrument in 2019

Playing a musical instrument has several benefits proven by studies. If you don’t have ‘learn an instrument’ on your bucket list, here are 5 reasons why you should start playing one in 2019.

1. Playing Music Makes You Happy

girl playing ukulele beach

Music is powerful. It can promote happiness in your life and those around you. Not only is it fun to play music that you enjoy, but it can be very gratifying seeing the happiness on people’s face because they like what you’re playing.

Overcoming musical challenges that you never thought you could, can also create a great sense of achievement. As you practice and become a more experienced musician, making beautiful sounding music will please not only you, but the people surrounding you.

And while other hobbies like watching Netflix or swiping through social media are passive, playing music actively engages and stimulates the brain, making you feel happy and giving you a great sense of accomplishment.

2. It Makes You Smarter

music theory writing notes

Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout. It forces you to process multiple senses like vision, hearing, touch and motor skills, all at once, resulting in long-lasting changes in the brain.

Learning how to play an instrument will:

  • Increase the capacity of your memory. Playing an instrument makes you use both sides of your brain, which strengthens memory power.
  • Enhance your coordination. When reading musical notes on a page, your brain subconsciously must convert that note into specific motor patterns while also adding rhythm to the mix.
  • Better your math skills. Music requires that you count notes and rhythms, and music theory includes many mathematical aspects.
  • Improve reading and comprehension skills: When you see black and white notes on a paper, you have to recognise what the note name is and translate it to a finger position.

Watch this TED video animation explaining the benefits of playing a musical instrument to your brain.

3. Music Reduces Stress and Anxiety

happy couple playing guitar

Music has a unique effect on our emotions. Studies with cancer patients found that listening and playing music reduces anxiety. Another study reveals that music therapy lowers levels of depression and anxiety, and has been useful in treating children and teens with autism, depression and other disorders.

Playing an instrument can be a great form of therapy, by focusing on your practice session and forgetting about all the problems and thoughts you might’ve had on that day, or expressing all your feelings while playing or writing a song. It acts as an outlet for difficult emotions. It can be a form of self-soothing in tough situations, and a healthy distraction from a stressful day.

Michael Jolkovski, a psychologist who specialises in musicians, believes music helps reduce stress by helping people connect with others. “It can satisfy the need to unwind from the worries of life, but unlike other things people often use for this purpose, like excessive eating, drinking, or aimless web browsing, it makes people more alive and connected with one another.”

4. It Increases Discipline and Social Skills

kids playing music instrument

The process of learning an instrument isn’t easy. It takes time and effort. Regularly playing an instrument teaches you perseverance, discipline and responsibility, as you have to manage your time, maintain your instrument and keep on practicing until you finally manage to perfect that passage you’ve been struggling with for days.

This can prove to be extremely advantageous in children. For instance, Mira Stulberg-Halpert, who works with children who have ADHD, has seen music discipline children when everything else fails.

Playing an instrument also helps you get comfortable with self-expression. Joining a musical group at any age encourages you to develop relationships with new kinds of people. Hence, it builds skills in leadership and team-building, as well as showing you the rewards of working with others.

5. Playing an Instrument Improves Your Mental Health

guitar happy sunset

Playing a musical instrument will help you become a healthier person – mentally and emotionally. The artistic and aesthetic aspects of learning to play a musical instrument are different from any other activity studied by neuroscientists, including other arts. Therefore, why not give the art of learning an instrument a try in 2019? Challenge yourself and become the guitar player you always wanted to be.

Fretello is a simple and fun way to learn guitar. Master different playing techniques, jam to 20,000+ songs, guitar riffs and backing tracks, and receive instant personalized feedback every time you pick up your guitar.

Which Guitar Pick is Right For You?

The guitar pick is probably the cheapest but most essential guitar accessory out there! Choosing a guitar pick that suits your particular performance style, preferences, and the sound is really important. But there a few things to consider when weighing up whether one is better than another.

Choosing the material of your guitar pick

Most electric guitarists today use plastic or nylon picks and have been doing so for decades. Some perceive nylon picks to have a “brighter” sound and are more flexible than their plastic counterparts. In fact, the Herco Flex 75 nylon pick has become famous as being favored by Jimmy Page – Led Zepplin’s lead guitarist!

The Dunlop Herco Flex 75 Nylon Guitar Pick

Dunlop Herco Flex 75 Nylon Guitar Pick

Other types of materials are on the market as well as options for guitar picks, including stone, wood and even leather and gemstones. For a crisper sound quality, opt for harder and denser materials, whereas for warmer sounds go for a softer material instead.

Choosing the shape of your guitar pick

You may think that picks always come in that classic triangular shape. In fact, there are nuances to this design which influences the sound and style of your playing. Some performers favor picks with pointier tips, which is advantageous for increasing precision, articulation and control (especially for jazz music).

The Fender Tortoise Shell Triangle Guitar Pick

Fender Tortoise Shell Triangle Guitar Pick

There are also teardrop shapes, fin shapes, and equilateral triangles. By having a greater contact surface you can get a more rounded overall sound. Someone who’s well known for the triangular picks is Daron Malakian from System of a Down with his Fender Triangle.

Choosing the thickness of your guitar pick

Guitar picks are available in a range of thicknesses, which have a direct impact on the sounds that are produced when using them. For a lighter sound using a thinner pick within the .4 and .6 mm range. These are also better for acoustic strumming, as opposed to rock guitars or when you need more bass or midrange notes.

Medium gauge picks are the most popular choice of thickness, generally being .6 and .8 mm, due to their ideal balance of flexibility and rigidity. This makes them useful for a whole variety of performance styles, which is particularly great for those who don’t have a specific specialty or just enjoy playing a mix of genres.

The Dunlop Ultex Jazz III "John Petrucci" Guitar Pick

Dunlop Ultex Jazz III “John Petrucci” Guitar Pick

Finally, there are the thicker picks, which are anything with a thickness greater than .8 mm. These heavier choices are the most firm, which is needed for killer guitar solos and power chords. The particularly thick picks nearing and even exceeding 1.5mm are most popular among jazz guitarists and metalheads alike! For example, the 1.38 mm Dunlop Jazz III is played by heavy metal star Kirk Hammett from Metallica.

Experiment until you find your favorites

It’s a great idea to experiment with and try out a whole variety of different picks. You might gravitate to one particular style, or perhaps you’ll find you like to use different ones for certain genres or types of songs. Overall though, take into consideration the material, shape, and thickness when choosing a pick, until you find the pick that is perfect for you.

7 Reasons Why You Should Learn Guitar Scales

Learning scales is an endeavor that brings a whole variety of benefits to you as a guitarist. Here are the top 7 reasons why practicing your scales should be a top priority!

1. Scales help you recognize the relationship between notes and the location on the guitar

Learning scales is one of the best ways to master your knowledge of the musical notes and their corresponding locations on the guitar strings. This is a fundamental basis for becoming an excellent guitarist.

2. Scales help your ability to learn songs by building finger strength

The techniques you use when playing scales actually aid in strengthening your finger and hand muscles. In turn, this further assists in your overall ability to learn and become good at performing new songs.

3. Learning songs is much faster if you practice scales

As you become better at your guitar scales, you’ll be surprised at how much quicker you’ll learn and memorize songs! Songs are generally written in a particular key, and this key has a scale. As a result, by knowing the scale really well, you’ll become more in tune with the piece as a whole.

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4. Solos and riffs consist of patterns coming directly from scales

When playing guitar solos and riffs, realize that the notes being used for these often comes directly from scales! As a result, by being good at scales, you’ll naturally become better at performing solos and riffs as well.

5. Chords are constructed with the notes in a scale, so you learn them faster

Notes from scales are combined to create the chords you so commonly play as part of many guitar pieces. What this means is that as you improve at scales, you’ll also pick up new chords quicker and more effectively.

6. Scales provide a framework to write your own songs

Understanding notes that flow well together and are musically sound allows you to have a strong foundation for composing your own songs. Thus, they’re a great starting point to building out a tune, chords, and more.

7. The first step reading music on the guitar is knowledge of scales

Being able to read sheet music is a fantastic skill that will be the envy of your fellow guitar players. One of the best ways to learn how to do this is to understand why and how scales are important.

Master your guitar scales with Fretello Lead and you’re well on your way to becoming a truly great guitar player!

How to Overcome Finger Pain When Playing Guitar

Playing guitar is always a dream of a number of people. Maybe you’ve started learning to play your favorite tunes on the guitar. Unfortunately, before you know it, the fingertips are on fire! It’s a very common experience for everyone who just started learning guitar. We’ve all heard the old adage again and again, “no pain, no gain”. Don’t worry: The fingertip sensitivity is temporary.

Here are a few effective tips that will help you rid of the pain.

Play a Little Every Day

The best option you have is to play the guitar more and more. However, don’t play too much unless your fingertips explode in pain! Rather, practice and rest consistently. This will allow your fingertips to build up calluses and become more resistant to all the strain. Start slowly; give your fingers a good training of 10-15 minutes a day. Don’t push too far just to regret later.

The Difference Between Good And Bad Pain

It’s normal to have fingertip soreness. However, if you experience muscle or wrist pain along with your fingertip pain, it’s a clear indication of your poor technique of playing. You don’t have to press harder than you need to. Harder pressing creates greater strain on your hands and may ultimately lead to muscle and/or wrist issues. Feel free to explore a number of ways of holding the guitar so that your wrist stays as flat and as natural as possible.

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Time Heals All Wounds

The fingertip soreness you’re experiencing is temporary and will automatically go away within a week or more. There’s no need for any special treatment. You can use icing or numbing creams for immediate, short-term relief. However, the ultimate solution gives your fingers time to build up calluses and say the pain goodbye!

Choosing the Right String Type

Some new players will prefer classical guitars with nylon strings. These strings are easier to play and put less strain on the fingers than steel-string guitars. The acoustic steel-string guitars use stronger gauge strings than the electric guitars, allowing electric ones a little easier. However, you can opt for lighter strings for any type of guitar. If the pain is really getting into your way of playing, visit the local music store for re-stringing your guitar with lighter strings.

Is Your Guitar the Problem?

The guitar itself may contribute to your discomfort. If the strings are positioned too high from the fretboard, fretting a note will require more energy. If you think this is the problem, you may want to bring your guitar to a local music store and let experts do the modification.

Don’t Give Up

Every guitarist has suffered at one point. But you shouldn’t give up. Keep playing regularly and soon your focus will be mastering songs, not feeling the pain in the first place.

Practice will make anyone perfect at anything. Play with your guitar for, at least, some time every day for improving your skills in the long term. Once you’ve experienced enough, you can increase the time. Keep playing and eventually, the pain is bound to go away. You’ll eventually start enjoying the guitar for the beauty of it.

Looking for a daily practice regimen that helps you overcome finger pain? Check out our app and start your 7-day FREE trial now.

5 Things You Should Never Do to Your Guitar

If you are a budding guitarist, you might need a guitar learning app like Fretello for learning to play conveniently. Besides, you should also take great care of your beloved instrument. Proper care should be taken to ensure that your guitar lasts long. Here are a few helpful tips that you should keep in mind for guaranteeing long-term use of guitar.

Don’t Expose It to Extreme Temperature and Humidity Change

Most of the guitars have a structural composition of wood which can be affected by humidity and temperature. If the guitar is exposed to change in humidity or extreme temperature, the wood may experience a drastic change, and it can affect the shape and sound of your guitar.

Don’t Clean with Water

Water is known as a cleaning agent, but you cannot use it to clean your guitar. Remember that no guitar is waterproof and hence it would be a terrible idea to use water for cleaning the guitar.

Don’t Use Soap, Furniture Polish or Window Cleaner

We know that you love your guitar, and you want to keep its finish clean and shiny, but you should be careful in using the cleaning products. Applying soap can be damaging. Similarly, you cannot use window cleaner or furniture polish to keep the guitar’s’ surface shining. These things can be damaging for the instrument.

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Don’t Wipe It With Paper Towel or Tissue

Tissue, paper towel or any other abrasive material can leave marks and scratches on the surface of your guitar. You should only use microfiber or cotton to wipe the guitar.

Don’t Use Compressed Air to Dust the Guitar

Using compressed air to dust the guitar can be damaging for your guitar. It can ruin the finish and hence affect the outlook of your favorite instrument.

Here you can get professional guitar cleaning products for little money. Remember these points, take care of your guitar, and it will surely last for a longer duration of time.

How to Tune Your Guitar by Ear

Playing the guitar is not easy. If you are a new leaner, you should know that tuning your guitar is the first thing you should do every time you pick up your guitar. You might have heard about tuning by ear. It simply means that you listen attentively and then make adjustments according to what you are hearing.

If you want to know how to tune your guitar by ear, we have got you covered.

How Tuning By Ear Makes You a Better Player

It is essential to keep the guitar strings well-tuned for delivering pleasant sounds. Even if you are in the initial stages of learning guitar, it is not difficult to keep it tuned. Although you should always use a chromatic tuner to check tuned notes for accuracy, tuning by ear is a good choice to train your sense of hearing. This method can also be used for both the acoustic and electric guitars.

All you need to do is train your ears to recognize the right sounds. A better listener can be a great musician. Therefore, if you want to be an excellent guitarist, all your instrument’s strings should be well-tuned, and you should have the ability to identify the right sounds.

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Moreover, you should have a clear understanding of the interrelation of guitar strings in the normal tuning. You should also know the commonly used names of the guitar strings.

How to Tune Your Guitar By Ear

  • First, you have to learn the name of the guitar strings and the standard tuning.
  • Now, play the 5th fret of the low E string and listen to it.
  • Next, play the open A string and listen to it.
  • Tune the open A string to match the pitch of the 5th fret of the low E string.
  • Then play the 5th fret on the A string and listen to it.
  • Now play the open D string and listen to it.
  • Tune the open D string to match the pitch of the 5th fret of the A string.
  • Repeat the same process for the D string to tune the G string.
  • Lastly, play the 4th fret on the G string and listen to it.
  • Tune the high E string to match the pitch of the 4th fret of the G string.

Noticing the Difference

Knowing how to tune is one thing, but actually being able to hear the difference is a skill that takes some practice.  You will notice when the two notes are out of tune when there is a warbling sound. This warble is created by the two different vibration rates of the strings. The two strings cause this warble by vibrating at different rates (i.e. different pitches). The warble will slow as you approach correct tuning.

Want to tune your guitar now? Download our tuner app for free to check every tuned note for accuracy.

What Makes Yamaha Guitars a Favorite Among Musicians?

In 1966, Yamaha Guitars launched its first made-in-Japan folk guitar, the FG180. In the same year, they also made their first electric guitars and accessories available: the SG-2/3 and SG-7 electric guitar, the SB-2 electric bass, and the No. 250 and No. 500 amplifiers.

Yamaha SG-7 1966 Electric Guitar

The SG-7 was the first electric guitar Yamaha released in 1966

Yamaha has kept on adding to its lineup of guitars over the years. For more than five decades, they have been producing affordable guitars and accessories for musicians of all levels. From beginner-friendly acoustic guitars like the FG830 model to powerful workhorses like the L-Series LL6, there’s something for everyone.

It’s no wonder then that many musicians consider Yamaha guitars among their favorites in their arsenal. “I’ll Be” singer-songwriter Edwin McCain loves his Yamaha CJ32 – a jumbo-sized model – because it’s built to withstand an aggressive attack and it holds its tuning well.

But there’s more to a Yamaha guitar than sturdiness and ability to stay in tune. Here’s a closer look at the qualities of Yamaha guitars that make them a favorite among musicians.

Affordability

Yamaha has a wide range of guitars to suit every budget. What’s amazing is that even those on the lower end of the price spectrum are not only very well made but sound great too. Generally, Yamaha guitars are less expensive than those from other big-name brands – with the same or even better quality. Their guitars are definitely good value for money.

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Build Quality

Yamaha takes great care in the development and manufacturing of its guitars. According to the company, the resources and facilities it applies to basic R&D alone are more extensive than many other companies apply to actual guitar production. From the selection of tonewoods t the application of finishes, Yamaha puts careful attention to detail, quality and sound technology.

Many Yamaha guitars feature the company’s exclusive Acoustic Resonance Enhancement wood processing technology. This technology enables the company to manipulate the molecular properties of the wood used in the guitars to make it more ideal acoustically. This means that the tone produced is smooth and mature, making the guitar sound like an instrument that has been played for many years.

Yamaha Acoustic Resonance Enhancement

Initial Response Acceleration is another proprietary process that Yamaha applies to its guitars. Yamaha applies IRA  after final assembly to make sure that all parts of the guitar, from the woods and joints to the hardware and finish, work in harmony to produce the best response and tone possible.

Sound Quality

The tech, bracing patterns, materials, craftsmanship and everything that goes into manufacturing give their guitars a great sound. This has amazed scores of musicians over the years. Guitars from Yamaha sound like more expensive guitars. However, each guitar series features a different bracing pattern, resulting in a cacophony of tones that appeal to different musicians.

From thick tones with rich bass to bright highs with deep lows, Yamaha guitars have it. As we’ve said before, there’s a Yamaha guitar for every style, musical genre, and sound preference.

The overall quality of Yamaha guitars is testament making instruments that sound great and priced just right. Yamaha guitars are comfortable and easy to play. This makes them a great choice for beginners. Thus, if you’re looking for a guitar to start your musical journey, consider getting a Yamaha – you really can’t go wrong with it.

An Easy Trick to Remember Guitar String Names

Do you struggle to remember the string names on your guitar? Learning the string names on your guitar is crucial. It helps you if want to be able to tune your guitar properly, read guitar tablature, play chords, and melodies.

Using Mnemonic Rhymes

Learning the fretboard layout helps you to identify each of the guitar strings without having to think of them every time. The most frequently used trick to remember string names is to create a memorable phrase. The first letter of each word stands for each of the guitar string names in corresponding order.

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Let us start with the thickest string and move top-down to the thinnest string. Here is a commonly used phrase for E-A-D-G-B-E:

  • Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie

To really make it stick, you can make up a phrase of your own. It just needs to be memorable. The crazier or more unusual the better.

What Are Minor Chords?

In contrast to power chords, minor chords, like major chords, are combinations of three or more notes. Any chord has two attributes which identify it: The root and the chord family. The lowest note of the chord forms the root of it. So for example, a major chord with root note C is called a C major chord and starts on the C note.

Playing the C minor chord on guitar

The Minor Chord

While major chords are described as happy, the sound of the minor chord is usually described as sad. Major and minor chords are considered the most important types of chords in music, the majority of pop and rock songs use only major and minor chords.

To find a minor chord, start by building a major chord. Do this by identifying the 1st, 5th, and 8th notes in the scale. To get a minor chord, simply lower the middle note of the triad by a half step which equals one fret lower on the fretboard.

The formula for minor would be 1st, 4th and 8th note.

In this example, the 3rd note is an E. Lowering it by an half step leads to an Eb. So C, Eb and G form the C minor chord.

The first minor chords you should learn are Em and Am.

Later you can shift them up the fretboard as barre chords, e.g. Fm and Bbm:

Here we have a poster with basic chords patterns. You can download, print and hang it in your room to help you memorize some chords.

How to Read Note Values?

Rhythm is a crucial part of music. Knowing the basic rhythms such as quarter notes, eighth notes, and rests will give you a deeper understanding of the music you hear. So the first thing you need to know is time signature.

Time Signature

You will find the time signature at the beginning of a piece of sheet music as some kind of fraction or a C. This tell us how many beats there are in a measure and which note value represents one beat.  The most common time signature is 4/4, sometimes written as a C.

Whole, Half and Quarter Notes

You should be able to understand the differences between note values Different notes cover different lengths of time, take a look on what each symbol stands for:

So now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. The pic shows an easy exercise: count along 1 2 3 4, but only clap (or play the B string on the guitar), when there’s also a note written. For a better learning effect, repeat every measure multiple times without a pause in between (1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4…). It is crucial, that you count in a steady pace, so don’t get faster or slower during it!