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The Many Health Benefits of Playing Guitar

It isn’t cliche. It’s true. It’s scientifically proven, even, that playing guitar has a lot of health benefits. Playing guitar is good for your brain. Playing guitar is good for your body. Playing guitar is good for your soul (and emotional health). There are a lot of studies out to support it with SCIENCE now, too.

So here are some of the ways playing guitar will improve all of that:

Playing guitar 

  1. Reduces The Effects of Stress
    This is good all around, right? We hear about stress as the silent killer all the time.
    LiveScience.com shares Suzanne Hanser’s summation of the health benefits of playing an instrument. Hanser is the chair of the music therapy department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. “Research shows that making music can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety and depression. There is also increasing evidence that making music enhances the immunological response, which enables us to fight viruses.”
    The American Psychological Association reports the same citing that music can be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery. It also literally reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases production of the “antibody immunoglobulin A and the natural killer cells that fight off viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness.” Next time you’re feeling the pressures of life, pick up your guitar and start playing. You will feel better, and maybe you won’t get sick or have a heart attack.
  2. Lifts Your Mood  
    How many times have you heard someone say “Music is my therapy,” or “Music is my church.” There is a reason for that. Music can boost your mood. The sounds and vibrations themselves are therapeutic and can be used to treat pain. Being creative and emotionally expressive is therapeutic. Completing something new is healing and boosts confidence. Whether you play music as a hobby or as a professional, you will feel better. Or, simply listen. That works, too.
  3. Improves Brain Function  
    One of the benefits of playing guitar, and playing an instrument in general, is it improves your brain’s cognitive function no matter what. Numerous studies report playing music enhances a child’s development and prevents dementia in older adults.

    One of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s otolaryngologist says listening to or playing music provides a total brain workout.  “Music is structural, mathematical and architectural. It’s based on relationships between one note and the next. You may not be aware of it, but your brain has to do a lot of computing to make sense of it.”  It also improves long term memory recall, jump-starts creativity and improves eye hand coordination. 
    By the way, an oto-laryng-ologist is fancy for ENT, or an ears, nose and throat doctor.
  4. Boosts Confidence
    Part of this is up to you. Because, if you give up and don’t actually learn to play, then it won’t boost your confidence. But, if you do practice and learn, you will be so proud of yourself as you succeed one song, one chord and one riff at a time. Learning any new skill is good for your brain, but learning to play an instrument is completely different engages a different part of your creative mind. Ultimately, as you continue to learn and grow, your self esteem will grow as well. Achieving “little” successes and “little” goals, leads to greater successes and accomplishments, setting a pattern of reinforced positive experiences. Positive experiences build more positive Some think you could have more success in love, too.
  5. Connects You With Other People
    You’re a rock. You’re an island. We get it. Having alone time is important, and practicing alone is therapeutic. But hanging out with people is important, too, especially people you get along with. Music is a unique way to connect with other people in a distant or intimate way, whether you chat favorite guitar riffs, the best and worst bands of all time, or you’re jamming around the bonfire. All you have to do is go to a local open mic to experience this. (Don’t let one bad open mic turn you off from finding other music lovers in your community, though.)

There you have it, the benefits of playing music, and in our case, playing guitar, are never ending. Playing guitar is essentially good for everyone from the inside out, no matter the age, from children to adults. Music truly is a unique gift in this world that we can all embrace alone and together.

If you want to get started, download the Fret Zealot app and explore all of the ways you can tune, practice and play. Here’s a list of chords to get started, and you can download our free beginner’s guide here.

Fret Zealot fits almost any guitar with any neck length, and we have a new Fret Zealot for ukulele available as well.

Explore our store and pick up your guitar or ukulele and play! 

Featured Artist – Marc Daniels Country Rock

Welcome to our first Featured Artist post! We want to share the stories AND music of some of the local artists we work with to help people learn their music (so send us an email at support@fretzealot.com if you want to be featured!). In our last blog post, we talked about the 5 Reasons to Play a Local Open Mic Night & What to Expect. It’s fitting that we talk about a new and upcoming artist this month, Marc Daniels, that did just that to get his start. True, his ‘open mic nights’ might have been in the form of bonfires with the stage being a flatbed truck, but it’s all the same to us!

The music industry can be brutal and our goal with Fret Zealot is to help everyone, not just the big players. In our experience, working with local artists is more fun anyway! You learn real stories and find unique ways to work together. In this case, we added one of Marc Daniels’ songs to the Fret Zealot app and he actually did a personal demo of it live! Check it out below:

Check out Marc’s Fret Zealot demo of “Redheads” above!

Marc Daniels first came onto the music scene in a big way in 2016, which coincidentally is when we were about to launch the first Fret Zealot versions. We’ve both come a long way in just a couple years! Fittingly so, Marc’s first album name was The Starting Line. From this album came his popular song Redheads (available to learn in the Fret Zealot app!).

Since we’re still in the heat of the summer here, we’re obligated to share the Summer Song music video:

Just this year, Marc Daniels released his latest album: “#Holdmybeer”. Yes, Sir! Marc has humble roots, though, coming from family in Spokane, Washington and summers on the lakes of Northern Idaho. 

Even though his music career is taking off, he notes that every artist has to start somewhere. Marc experimented with different cover bands before truly finding his country rock soul. He comments in his interview with CountryMusicJunkies that his song inspiration has both classical and contemporary roots, which he’s found to be particularly appealing to the current generation of country listeners. In the busy modern world, his listeners want to be reminded of the simpler things in life like relaxing by a lake or even a meal with friends at a diner. “Struggle, loss, love, and connection to people” is a part of all our lives, so remembering the good experiences is what his music is all about.

Fret Zealot’s toolbox of app features lets you discover your style, express your creativity, and accomplish your own individual goals. So get out there, have experiences, make mistakes, learn, and find your sound! Thanks, Marc, for teaching us how it’s done! 

5 Reasons to Play a Local Open Mic Night & What to Expect

You’ve been jamming on your guitar or ukulele at home, right? Maybe you have even shared a song or two with your best friend or your family. Sharing your music with the world can be nerve racking, but it can also be an uplifting experience! While it always takes courage to share your music and art with someone else. Are you ready for your first open mic night?

Just remember, don’t be hard on yourself. You have begun a new journey with music, and your attitude will make or break your future success with it. You don’t have to be a rock star. You don’t have to play a song like that famous artist or group does. Famous musicians don’t sing songs like anyone else, and you don’t have to sing it like them either. That’s the beauty of music and art. You get to make it your own and put your authentic voice into it. And, guess what? No one will be able to perform it the way you do either!

If you think it’s time to start taking some steps to grow your musicianship and performance skills and to walk a little further along your musical path, know that open mic nights are designed to give new musicians opportunities to share music with appreciative audiences and evolving music communities. Many, many, many great musicians and bands got started at open mic nights or battles of the bands. Even if you don’t aspire to be a professional musician, you will still have a great time trying a local open mic or jam night out.

Here are some reasons why:

  1. You will connect with a music-loving community.
    It’s true. Open mics are like hangouts for music lovers just like you. You might even feel as if you’ve walked into a new accepting family. Musicians, after all, pride themselves on living and appreciating different lifestyles. Just check out this article, “10 Things You’ll Never Understand About Musicians.” We bet you can relate!

    Aspiring musicians of all skill levels and abilities will be there to perform songs they have learned and songs they have written. Some will be amazing, and you will wonder why they aren’t famous. Honestly, others will fumble through the chords, forget lyrics, tell bad jokes, or generally seem awkward because they are nervous and don’t have stage experience. That’s OK! It’s actually good. That is how people practice expressing themselves freely and grow as individuals and as musicians. You might hear “Wagon Wheel” five times in one night and then at least once a week for months. You’ll have some fun conversations with people who love the bands you love, and you’ll probably discover some new bands too. You might also encounter a few people who aren’t so nice, but that is all part of the experience.
  2. You will learn—a lot.
    You’ll learn a lot about yourself. You’ll learn a lot about music. You’ll learn a lot about performing.

    Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, performing in public takes a lot of courage and energy. This also holds true whether you’ve been performing all your life or it’s your first time. The only way to learn how to perform better is by practicing performing. Remembering the right chords and lyrics while nervous will get easier. From watching other musicians perform, from talking to them, and maybe even from collaborating with them, you will learn about what to do (and, just as importantly, what not to do).
  3. You only get better at performing by actually performing. 
    Have you heard musicians say a song is never done? Every performance will be a little different, and that’s one reason songs continue to change. Similarly, your performance style will evolve as well. You will develop your own method of establishing a safe performance space, whether it’s on a stage or on the ground. You will only get better with every performance! If you’re feeling brave, film a performance and critique yourself. Don’t push that on yourself, though. Only take video if you know you are ready to do that. Here are a few other helpful tips on how to become a more confident performer from BulletproofMusician.com.
  4. You’ll be inspired, and you’ll grow.
    Sure, you’ll learn a lot, but through musical exploration and music-related conversations, that learning will come with a lot of growth. You’ll start to set goals for your next performance. The next thing you know, you’ll be comfortable singing those three songs you prepared, and you’ll be adding new songs to the list. (This also means you will be practicing more.) The musicians around you will inspire you to try new things, to learn new songs, and maybe even to write your own songs. Performing is a rush, but so is achieving what you set out to do. Because you will be learning and trying new things, you will inevitably grow.
  5. You’re gonna have fun.
    The first time you go to an open mic night, you might be nervous. You might not know anyone, so consider bringing a friend in order to feel more comfortable. Either way, if you love music, you will love open mics because they’re filled with music lovers! You’ll probably even find the crowd is way more supportive than you think. If a particular open mic doesn’t quite have the vibe you are looking for, try another one! Don’t be afraid to drive a little ways to find a place you love.

Here are a few things to know and to expect when you go to an open mic:

  1. Pick an open mic night near you, and go for it! You can Google “open mics,” search Facebook for “open mic events” in your area, or even look through local digital or print media calendars. There might also be a local musician group or open mic group for your area on Facebook. You can also find a list of open mics near you at OpenMikes.org. Peruse the list, and pick one to attend!
  2. Every open mic night is different. Every event has different house rules, practices, routines, and ambiance. Keep an open mind.
  3. It’s OK to be different! Don’t be afraid to play a less popular song or even a song you wrote. 
  4. Locate the sign-up sheet. Do this as soon as you get there so you don’t miss your chance to perform! 
  5. Be prepared. Be confident with performing two to four songs. If you only have one, that is usually OK, but know the sets are typically fifteen to twenty minutes. Here are a few open mic night songs you may consider learning that are already in the Fret Zealot app.
  6. Bring your own gear. Bring your own instrument, amp, pedals, guitar strap, tuner, and cable. Bring backup strings and preamp batteries, if you need them. For reference, here is a quick guide to tuning your instrument. Having all this gear will make things go more quickly, and even if you don’t end up needing everything, you’ll feel better knowing you have it all, just in case. 
  7. It’s great to talk with the audience, but don’t overdo it. Share your nerves, and share the backgrounds of the songs, but remember there is a time limit. Keep in mind that the next person is just as excited to get on stage and to share his or her songs. 
  8. Respect the host and sound engineer. They work hard, so be kind to them. It isn’t easy to navigate all the personalities, criticisms, and specific needs of all the musicians who sign up to perform every week. 
  9. Stay positive, and be encouraging to others. There will likely be at least one critical person who wants to tell you how to improve or will suggest how someone else could improve. While it is important to get constructive criticism, you don’t have to engage in those kinds of conversations (unless you want to). Stay positive. Respond with positivity, and move on.

Every local open mic is essential to your community’s art and music scene, whether it’s small or large. Doing a little light reading about open mics might help alleviate your nerves. Different musicians have varying insights and tips, but here are a few suggestions for open mic etiquette from Guitar World.

Whatever you do, just be positive, and have confidence in yourself and what you’re doing. It’s also totally cool to check out an open mic night without playing it. You can always go back to perform another time. Do what you need to do to achieve your next goal. We know you can do it. Now, be yourself, get out there, and sing your song!