While it's never too late to learn how to play guitar, there can be factors that make playing more of a challenge as an older adult. If you have arthritis or limited manual dexterity, it can be harder to press the strings down, position your hands correctly and move your hands quickly to play different notes. Cognitive decline can make it more complicated to memorize chords and songs. If you have hearing loss, learning to play by ear can be challenging, and you might struggle to hear yourself playing to know if it sounds correct. Changes to your vision health can make reading sheet music difficult. Being aware of those issues can help you set realistic goals and change how you play to accommodate them.
Find a guitar that's comfortable and easy for you to hold. If you have a smaller frame, consider a smaller guitar that's easier for you to get your arms around. You might be able to better handle a lightweight guitar if your strength has declined over the years. Thin-body guitars are typically lighter.
Look for a low-action guitar if you're concerned about being able to press the strings correctly. Low-action models don't require as much force to press down on the strings. This can be beneficial if you have arthritis or have limited strength and manual dexterity. Working with a guitar expert can make it easier to find an instrument that's comfortable and easier for you to play.
One of the fastest ways to learn how to play guitar is by taking private lessons. An instructor can teach you the basics and give you feedback on your technique to help you improve quickly. They can help you work with what you have for a more personalized approach. Look for a local guitar teacher who has experience teaching older adults and provides personalized pointers based on age-related issues for the best results.
If you're taking a more relaxed approach, you might teach yourself. You can find a wide range of phone apps that teach you how to play guitar. There are even apps that help you tune your guitar to help it sound better. Another option is looking up guitar tutorials on YouTube. Start with the basics so you have a solid foundation in playing guitar. Then, you can work up to learning songs you want to play.
Like most new skills, learning to play guitar requires regular practice. Playing a little every day helps you become more familiar with your guitar and improve your playing skills. Find a comfortable spot where you can sit and play your guitar. Keep your sheet music or tablature and other items you use while practicing in that area. If you forget to play your guitar regularly, keep it out in the open as a practice reminder.
You don't have to spend hours playing your guitar. Spending 10 to 15 minutes per day gives you the repetition you need to improve. Choose a convenient time that works with your daily routine to incorporate guitar practice. Practicing at the same time every day makes it easier to remember. Setting a timer helps you stay focused for however long you want to practice.
You might need to make some adjustments to accommodate your limitations. For instance, if you're dealing with some memory issues and can't memorize a song, you might read from sheet music instead of playing from memory. Seniors with vision impairments can use magnifying devices to make their sheet music easier to read. Keep your song selection simple and slow if you have limited manual dexterity that makes it more challenging to play.
Whether or not you're ready for the stage, playing instruments with friends can make your new hobby more enjoyable. It's a good way to socialize while you learn a new skill. Invite your assisted living friends over for a jam session. You can all strum guitars or find a wide range of instruments to incorporate into your living room band. If you have a friend who plays guitar, they can give you some pointers to improve your technique.
Learning how to play guitar as an older adult can be more challenging due to physical and cognitive changes. Be patient with yourself and focus on having fun. Even younger people need time to master the guitar. Focus on the wins you have as you learn to play and don't stress about the wrong notes.