“The power of music to integrate and cure is quite fundamental. It is the profoundest non-chemical medication…” These words from famous neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks, underline a fundamental truth often times overlooked by medical science. Music can have a soothing and calming biological effect on a nervous brain and stressed body – and today thousands benefit from the therapeutic influence of song and harmony.

If your life is a combination of rushing from one dilemma to the next, while trying to maintain a household and remembering to attend Pilates class, you will most likely understand the importance of regular relaxation, but may find it difficult or impossible to implement. On the other hand, if you’ve forgotten the feeling of jumping into the deep end of an oasis after a crushing day at the office, it may be time for a much needed change. Stop maintaining a lifestyle that deducts a month from your life after every year. Now recognize and employ, in your daily routine, the healing effect of music. This is true both in the context of listening to music, or making some form of it by yourself. As a musician of many years, I have observed the amazing effect that playing a few chords or notes has on an anxious person.

The organiser of a recent symposium on the understanding of the human musical experience said: "We may be sitting on one of the most widely available and cost effective therapeutic modalities that ever existed. Systematically, this could be like taking a pill … music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication, in many circumstances.”

My wife’s sentiments will also be shared by many: “I have no musical talent whatsoever, I cannot keep a note let alone hear the difference, but I’ve learned basic guitar patterns. I cannot play without looking at them, but even with my eyes glued to the music sheet I find my mind quieting and my body relaxing as I play my simple melodies. My 56 year old mother even started playing and using guitar jargon like ‘chords’ and ‘scales’!”
Learning a new instrument is by itself a wonderful and refreshing experience, simply because of the fresh perspective and stimulus that accompanies the learning process. And your newly acquired skills can and will help aid in your quest for a more relaxed lifestyle.

If this appeals, you may wonder where to start? I can only comment from personal past experience: Like many children with recognized musical ability I was somewhat forced into musical tuition for a variety of instruments as a young child - today I play guitar, bass guitar, drums and some piano. I have found the piano or guitar a good starting point for prospective musicians. Piano is more difficult to master without live lessons or instruction, but guitar can, in most cases, be learned independently. This instruments’ composition means that a new player has minimum finger pattern (or chord) memorization and, unlike the piano, you really don’t have to do much to start sounding like you know what you’re doing.

The only discomfort that accompanies learning the guitar will be the silent cries of your new and awkward fingers. Contrary to what many believe, this passes fairly quickly and by playing four to five times a week, you will develop natural calluses and will quiet the pleas from your fingertips.

My website, http://www.pluckandplayguitar.com/ has a free video based guitar course for absolute beginners. The course assumes you know nothing or close to nothing about guitar, so might be a good place to start. You will learn some basic guitar chords and start playing a few very easy songs.

Author's Bio: 

Leon Potgieter is a musician with many years of performing experience. His website, http://www.pluckandplayguitar.com/ offers free video based tuition for prospective guitar players.