The benefits of playing guitar during the pandemic
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
The pandemic has been difficult for many people. People who are staying at home during COVID-19 are finding ways to keep themselves busy. Whether it is watching YouTube or Netflix, Zoom calls with friends and family, or investing time in a hobby (such as playing a musical instrument)—these are all good ways to cope with being isolated from others.
Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist at McGill University, weighed in on the benefits of playing music in an interview with Fender: “Playing an instrument can certainly improve a person’s overall well-being. Playing even five minutes a day can lead to a range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits.”
I first started to play guitar when I was in junior high school. The first guitar that I owned and learned to play was a nylon string classical guitar. I loved the sound that reverberated from the instrument. I remember just playing and strumming this guitar for hours. And whatever tension and stress I was feeling slowly dissipated the longer I played the guitar.
Remarkably, Levitin says that his research shows that playing the guitar has positive effects on hormones involved with proper and healthy brain functioning. “Playing an instrument has a meditative aspect that can release positive hormones in the brain and can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, increase productivity, and create social bonding to combat loneliness in the digital age,” Levitin said.
What’s more, I was enjoying playing the guitar so much that I began practicing and playing the intro to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” and similar songs that sound better on an electric guitar! Notably, the most challenging guitar riff that I ever tried to play was The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” I still don’t know how Police guitarist, Andy Summers, does it!
Unfortunately, I have not played my guitar for many years. Due to life events and being busy with other things—the pandemic has not helped either—I stopped playing my guitar. I regret this, and I hope to go back to playing it soon. I am sure once I start playing my guitar again, I will be very rusty. But that is ok because it will not take long for me to get back that feeling of why I loved the guitar.