Archive for October, 2008

Anyone Can Play Guitar…

Friday, October 17th, 2008

     For those of you who make music every day of your life, there is no need to read this.  We’ll focus on some more detailed physical activity techniques later on for you…

    For those who don’t sing with your own piano or guitar,  you have no idea of the stress relieving and soulful experiences you are missing in this one and only lifetime.  I lived for 29 years without a real base of making  music or singing in my life.  When I finally found the guitar and my voice 4 years ago, it was probably the biggest shift of my life.  It’s a physical vibration that can help soothe any personality.  

   As a doctor, a teacher, and a healer, I’d like to share my experience with my dramatic transition from non-musician to musician in a way that hopefully will change many peoples lives in infinite ways.  I’m going to share the exact  details of how I used the internet to teach myself guitar and exactly how I was able to play and sing my first two real songs in the first week of playing….

So without further delay,  I introduce to you:  


“Dr. Neal’s One Week Transformation Into a Full Blown Musician”


1)    Buy a reasonably priced guitar.

      Used guitars are everywhere and if you are shopping around for guitars, try to find someone to help you who knows what they are supposed to feel and sound like.   If you’re on your own,  consider getting help from the guys at the music store.  For a new one, you are looking for a simple guitar between 150-300 dollars.  Any less and you will throw it out.  Any more and you’re posing a little bit…

Special Tip:  If a regular sized guitar feels intimidating, uncomfortable, and doesn’t sit well in your lap at first,  you may have a beginner’s edge if you buy a junior guitar made originally for kids.  It’s easier to handle, easier to push down the strings, and easier to get over the hump for those who are scared to buy a guitar and not make it to the other side.  They are about 130 dollars. Fender and a couple other brands make them.  Check them out at you local guitar shop.

Accessories needed:   capo $20, picks $5, tuner $30  (buy the black Korg chromatic tuner.  The cheaper silver one is a waste of money.)


2)  Pick a Song

     This is the fun part.  choose a very popular classic rock, pop, or rock song that has been covered by many other guitarist before you.   The 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s have unlimited amount of choices that have very simple guitar interpretations.   

To find you version of the song to play on the guitar (or piano),  go to

Enter a song or band name in the top search with the appropriate category checked.  Choose a song that has many versions already written by other musicians.  Select the version that is in Chords and has a high rating with many votes. 

Here’s an example of one of the first songs I ever learned:

Notice how this chords are placed on the lyrics usually close to where the chord should change.  You’ll have to use your familiarity with the song to help fill in the gaps.


3)  Chord Interpretation for Guitar (or piano)

The new ultimate-guitar site has actually been making all the chords expandable to show the finger postions.  

For a Closer look at where your fingers should go,  go to

Notice the finger positions and whether to play an open string or not to play an open string.  (the piano chords can be found at the link at the bottom of the page)

Major chords are all chords with no other elaboration or description.  m  is a minor chord, etc…


–Those who catch the music fever will not put the guitar down until their fingers are sore and developing the needed caluses on the finger tips.   Those who don’t catch the fever and play only once or twice a week will have a much lower chance of making it over the hump.  If you sprint in life toward a destination, unbelievable things can happen.  Only a sprint will get you playing your first song by week one….  The rewards are massive if you make it.    I hope you do….


some side tips:

-fingernails ultra short on your string hand (left) so you can go completely vertical onto the real tip of your finger.

-Observe your own neck hunching and fix it when you can.  Try to keep the guitar upright after you’ve found your place.  It will allow you reach around the neck easier.

-Right hand (strum hand) can start with a pick or just your thumb. The right hand plays the familiar rhythm of the song you chose. (I’ll try to add a video of this later)

-don’t forget to check the top of the song to see if you need a capo and where to place it.


For those who make it over the hump, let us know how it feels…..


Be well, 

Dr. Neal


©2008   “Stress Relief #2 (Anyone Can Play Guitar)  by Dr. Neal Schwartz

6 Responses to “Anyone Can Play Guitar…”

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  6. Lyndsey Says:

    Wow, this post is SO TRUE and I can attest to that. Didn’t start picking up guitar until a few years ago… in my mid-20s. During that same time I was also working full-time, in college full-time, and starting a business. Now I’ve got LOTS going on with my music (check it out! and I am SO grateful that I didn’t think it was “too late” to start learning this instrument. Never too late! Some of us are just late bloomers… 😉

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