As Disney / Pixar’s new hit ‘Coco’ so brilliantly highlights, music is beautiful, healing and unifying, and none more sublime than music played artfully from a guitar.
Prized for its versatility, adaptability, and relative ease of learning, the guitar is among the most popular musical instruments in Singapore. You’d be hard pressed to find a song on the airwaves without some guitar track in the background, and almost everyone and their future band seems to know how to strum out a tune or two.
If you want to give guitar a go, and take some guitar lessons, here are some basic principles to get acquainted with:
1.Choosing Your Guitar
Start off by picking a type of guitar you want to learn. The basics of each type are pretty similar, although identifying if you want to play the Acoustic, Classical or Electric guitar will help you focus on developing your key skills. This choice will also determine which type of instrument you’ll be purchasing as your first.
Acoustic and Classical guitars produce sound directly from the plucking of their strings, although the Acoustic guitar’s strings are metal and the Classical, nylon. The electric guitar’s iconic tunes come from converting the vibrations of its plucked strings into electrical signals, which is then amplified by an external setup.
2. Holding Your Guitar
When you have chosen your guitar, you’ll have to learn how to hold it properly. Starting off with the correct holding technique ensures that you have a proper posture that not only makes playing the guitar easier and less tiring, but also prevents injuries.
The most common method of holding is while sitting down, propping the guitar on the leg of our dominant side (e.g. if you’re right-handed, prop the guitar on your right leg). The thinnest string should be facing the floor and the thickest towards the ceiling. Your dominant hand, which will be doing the strumming, will rest on the guitar’s body near the sound hole, and your non-dominant hand will be on the long neck with the frets, where it’ll be pressing down the strings to play different notes.
3. Strumming The Strings
You strum the strings to make the sounds. You can do it with a guitar pick – those triangular and colourful pieces of plastic – or with your thumb. Generally, you’d want to start off with a pick, as strumming with your bare fingers can get painful especially when you’re new. To hold the pick properly, place it between your thumb and the knuckle of your index finger.
Strum at the strings between the bridge and hole, and try to touch all the strings equally. This movement should rely on your wrist instead of your whole arm. There are other techniques to learn that produce other tones, once you’ve gotten used to the motions.
4. Playing A Tune
Like any other instrument, you’d need to learn music theory to master the guitar. But if you’re just in it to play your favourite rock band riff, you’ll have to learn some of the chords that go into making the music. Some people can pick it up simply by playing by ear, while others would benefit from guitar lessons conducted by professional music teachers.
While you’re never too old or too busy to learn the guitar it’s still not as simple as just picking one up and strumming until you hit the right sounds. There are various courses, classes and lessons available in Singapore ranging from the general basics to the intricate nature of Jazz.
On the scale of the school band recorder to the French horn, the guitar seems like one of the easier instrument to learn because of the ease of access of many courses and lessons in Singapore.