How to Teach an Old Dog How to Play Guitar

Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? That sentiment is a thing of the past. People can learn at any age and Kymberleigh Boucher of Guitar Center in Selden has the students to prove it. During our discussion she revealed some tips to become a rock star later in life.

Comfort is Key
Finding a guitar that feels good in your hands is vital, especially as we get older. Boucher preaches that, “eyes should not choose your guitar—hands should.” The formation of the hand around the fret board should not cause too much strain. The correct classical guitar body position should have the headstock (the top of the guitar) level with the eye-line. If this drops the fret board may be too heavy—consider trying to buy something a little lighter.

Practice Makes Perfect
Whether you plan to teach yourself or take lessons, the road to becoming the next Jimi Hendrix is not an easy one. The only proper way to become skilled at the guitar is to practice but that doesn’t mean it needs to be painful. “Playing the guitar should feel fun, not like a chore.” Start by practicing each part slowly and eventually work up to tempo with each section. Before you know it you’ll be confident enough to play lead guitar at any jam session. But remember: all students learn at different speeds.

Set Realistic Goals
Start by setting small goals like practicing four times a week for one hour. This is easily attainable and leaves room to play whenever the mood strikes. Setting a goal such as having to learn “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in a week adds pressure, which could be a deterrent. Then, raise the bar—reasonably.

Chord Books and Tabs
Gain the freedom to learn on your own time by downloading tabs online or buying chord books. YouTube has instructional videos that can assist with tricky chords or finding the right finger placement.

Play What You Love
Boucher urges adults to learn familiar songs because it can help them easily identify where they make their mistakes. She also mentioned that students are more motivated to practice when it is something they enjoy listening to. Turn up the volume and call it a learning experience.