I received this article in my email the other day, and although I do not have arthritis, I understand how painful and debilitating it can be. Because it is so relevant to the subject of adult guitar lessons. For all who are taking guitar lessons for Adults or anyone who is interested, allow me to share this article by Keith Dean, founder of Adult Guitar Lessons.
I assume you are reading this post because you want more information about said subject. If you want to learn more about Kieth Dean of Adult Guitar Lessons; allow me to share this article by Keith Dean, founder of Adult Guitar Lessons. Consider this a Guitarists Health Issue.
As we get older our bodies have a tendency to become less cooperative, and things we could do effortlessly in our twenties and thirties become more of a physical challenge.
For some, this translates to a higher level of soreness and joint pain following a round of strenuous activity. For others, the weakening of knees, backs and hips make us less mobile than in our younger days.
For many others, the advancement of years is marked by the onset of Arthritis.
Arthritis is defined by the inflammation of one or more joints resulting in swelling, stiffness and pain, causing limitations of movement.
The irony of aging is that the various infirmaries that besiege our bodies in the advancing years often do nothing to diminish our desires to accomplish new goals and tackle new challenges.
We still dream. We still have mountains to climb. We still have unfulfilled passions.
So the question is – should the onslaught of arthritis prevent us from finally realizing our dreams of learning how to play guitar? Should we allow our un-cooperative body to rob us of the joys of making music?
The answer is – absolutely not!
If you are suffering from arthritis but still have a desire to learn how to play guitar, what can you do?
First off, if your arthritis is minor, or in the early stages, playing guitar may actually help.
Many of my students tell me that the physical act of playing guitar, and exercising the joints of the hands, fingers and wrists, have made improvements to their condition.
They say that, although there was the typical discomfort and soreness in the early stages (that all new guitarists experience), over time and with daily practice, the pain and swelling of their arthritis was reduced.
But what if your arthritis is more advanced and debilitating, making the normal formation of guitar chords nearly impossible?
Here are a couple of solutions to consider:
1. Tune your guitar to an open chord and play it using the Dolly Parton “one finger” method.
If you have ever watched a close up of Dolly Parton playing guitar, the first thing you will notice is the length of her fingernails. They’re daggers!
This makes playing guitar by traditional means out of the question. There is no way to press the finger tips down on the frets of the guitar with three inch nails.
How does she still manage to play guitar?
Simple. She tunes the guitar to an open chord, often an “E” chord, and plays guitar by laying just one finger across the fret board.
In an open “E” tuning, you can strum the guitar without touching the frets, and you are playing an E chord.
An open E tuning looks like this:
E B E G# B E
To accomplish this tuning from a standard tuning, all you have to do is raise the 5th string (A) up to a “B” note. The 4th string (D) is raised to an E note, and the 3rd string (G) is raised to a G # (sharp). The other three strings remain the same.
Then all you have to do to play the guitar is to place one finger directly across all the strings at any fret to play full chords.
The chord you are playing is determined by the fret position. If you lay one finger across the 3rd fret, you are playing a G chord. Slide that up to the 5th fret and you are playing an A chord, etc.
2. Another solution is to play guitar using a slide.
A slide is an object made of metal or glass that fits over a finger. You play the guitar with a slide by lightly pressing down on the strings at the desired location.
You can use the slide in conjunction with an open tuning (as discussed above) and, when you do, almost anything you play on the guitar will “sound right”.
If your arthritis is advanced but you still want to play guitar, try one or both of these methods and see if they make things easier.
You don’t have to let the aging process keep you from experiencing the pleasures of making music and playing guitar. Sometimes we just have to work around a few roadblocks to get there!
Disclaimer – Due to the insanely litigious society we live in, I do have to clearly state that I am NOT a doctor (just a humble guitar player), and I am NOT offering medical advice. If you are concerned about how playing guitar may affect your physical condition, please be sure to consult your physician!
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