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Jul 19 2017
by Yu Chien Wang

How Learning the Guitar Has Taught Me Incredible Life Lessons

By Yu Chien Wang - Jul 19 2017
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As a cellist, I've always had profound interests in other instruments. But due to heavy academic work flow and lack of motivation, I haven't had the chance to learn other instruments formally. During the school year, I would play my friend's guitar or their electric piano and make up silly songs whenever I could get my hands on one. In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to learn to play guitar. It was just a matter of time.

The first month of this summer passed by quickly, I was still going back and forth between work, friends and wandering around my city to fill up my free time. As I was on the phone complaining about how I still hadn't learned how to play the guitar, I realized everything has to have a start. Then I got out of my house, walked to the music studio across the street and signed up for my very first guitar lesson. 

It wasn't all fun and easy, like any learning process. Despite my huge interest, I faced a couple of challenges ahead. My indecisiveness really got in the way when I was choosing my first guitar. I wanted something cheap, yet not too cheap. Something beginner-friendly that would also be a good fit for an advanced player. The list goes on, but I decided on my own after nearly an hour of pondering in the guitar shop. I've learned to focus on what I actually need, and went with a practical decision.

The more I practice, the more my fingertips hurt. Even though as a cellist I already have thick fingertips, my hands are still trying to get used to this way of pressing the strings. At least I am used to having wrinkly fingers, so the physical changes weren't a big deal for me. I've learned to listen to my body's signals and not overuse it, so I could maintain a consistent practicing schedule without being too uncomfortable. 

I joked about how studying music is an exercise for the mind. Each little movement triggers neurons in my brain and they started forming a new path to help me master what I am trying to learn. I've personally experienced what our mind can do. And I think it's amazing to see how much information a brain can take in. 

The most valuable lesson I've learned from picking up the guitar is perseverance. Anything is possible through hard work. Each day after my lesson, I would feel like I've encountered some challenge I could not overcome. But through several hours of practicing, soon I mastered the finger movements and made the technique my own!.

Picking up the guitar is by far my favorite thing I've done this summer. I appreciate this experience that helps make me see what humans are capable of. 

Lead Image Credit: Seb Barsounmian via Unsplash

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Yu Chien Wang - Syracuse University

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