Recently I was having a discussion with subscriber and friend, Mike Barron. It was about arthritis and playing guitar.
Instead of breaking down what he said, here it is in full. There are lots of gems here.
“Dan, I have been thinking quite a bit more about arthritis and guitar playing.
It may actually be an advantage for older players – incredible as that may seem. No older beginner seriously expects to ever play like Segovia or Jeff Beck.
“Why on Earth am I doing this when I have a huge collection of albums by real guitarists” is a common question on bad practice days. If you are practising guitar even partly to slow down the advance of arthritis, that question is irrelevant.
You can’t give up because, at least in my case, playing to help with arthritis works and I don’t know anything else that does.
Enjoying playing music is just a bonus, although a pretty good one, compared with most exercises.
The crucial point is never to compromise technique. It is often easier and sometimes hurts less to be sloppy about fingering, follow through with the right hand, upright left fingertips, stretching to the fret, etc.
As soon as you do that, the arthritis begins to get a foothold (handhold?) and it will just get worse and worse.
Another advantage is the exact point you make about slow, deliberate practice.
If you must get your fingertip to the fret and be upright, it is impossible to rush.
Before I had arthritis, I was always astonished by how long it took to learn anything.
However, with arthritis, it doesn’t really matter.
The object is to keep the hands working so this piece will do the business just as well as the next one or the one after. There is no need to rush.
One last point.
If you are successfully controlling the arthritis so you can still chop an onion or change a plug, time practising the guitar is a small price.”
That was a great email and one that highlights where most of us are on our guitar journey.
For me, I’m not bothered about being a world-famous guitarist, I do what I do because I love to play and teach.
Likewise, 99% of you have no desire to be superstar guitarists, and I hear that a lot.
Emails like this highlight the importance of playing guitar and how it can improve our lives mentally, physically, and even emotionally.
Arthritis is nasty, but there are things you can do.
Good technique though, as Mike rightly points out, is very important.
If you want to learn the techniques I teach and have taught students for years, then my manual, Essential Guitar Technique, is the place to look.
While it is not a magic pill, and I am no doctor, it will help your playing in lots of ways…
Including helping to prevent the repetitive little injuries, strains, and tension that can be a cause of some forms of arthritis.
The book was created specifically to go in my bundle as all the other books inside the bundle build off it.
You can check it out below.
Have a great day!
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.