music and dementia

Welcome to a new Monday post with 3 random thoughts on all things guitar, music, and life, including research on music and dementia, your “go-to” song, and more…


#1 – What’s your “go-to” piece?


Over the years I have found that most successful students have this…

At least one special piece of music they never tire of playing.

This piece is one a student often plays over and over again.


You will know if you have one of these pieces because, each time you play it, you probably find yourself getting “lost in the moment”.

When you play it, time stands still, and the piece calms and/or invigorates you.

It is not always easy finding a piece like this and you may not have found it… yet.

You will though.


Your “go-to” piece may be a fingerpicked song that you love.

For some, it is a ‘sing and strum’ number.

For others, it is a fingerstyle arrangement. (These are great for this as they work on multiple levels, and you can make them fancier over time).

It doesn’t have to be an actual song though.


For some guitarists, it is a 12-bar blues jam where they change it up and improvise each time.

It doesn’t matter what it is but having a “go-to” piece can bring you many happy hours of joy…

Especially on days where you don’t feel inspired or your practising isn’t going so well.

A great “go-to” piece can help you fire up the engine, and get the wheels turning, so to speak.


I always find it interesting to know from students, what is your “go-to” piece?



#2 – If you have learnt another skill before, you can learn guitar


A couple of weeks ago, I asked this question in the Fingerstyle 101 Facebook group.


“What other hobbies apart from guitar have you learnt?”


The question got lots of great responses, and they varied wildly.

The answers showed how people can have such wide-ranging interests and be from all parts of the world yet be tied together by this beautiful instrument.

Some of these hobbies and skills included golf, scuba diving, piano, embroidery, acting, driving, woodcarving, hiking, fishing, ballroom dancing, and more, including building guitars (I knew there would be at least one!).


If you have ever doubted your ability to learn guitar, but have learnt a skill like the ones above (or any others) remember this:

You have already learnt another skill and one which you probably found tough at first.

Try to remember how it was in the early days…


Like if you’re a golfer and you were shanking the ball everywhere on the golf course, or a dancer tripping over on lesson 1 or slicing your thumb off when making guitars (I exaggerate, I know)

You get the point though; most hobbies are difficult at first and most people forget they struggled with them.

Keep that in mind if you find the guitar a challenge right now.


You have no doubt learnt other skills which were hard at first too.

Just like them, guitar playing gets easier too, so keep at it.



#3 – Brain health


I saw a little clip of BBC news the other day.

I hate the news by the way, but there was something positive on, so I left it on for a moment.

It was about music and dementia and how a bunch of jazz musicians were fighting back against dementia through the power of music.


One of my students used to tell me of his wife’s struggles.

He loved her dearly and would tell me about how music helped calm and relax her.

I got an email about it the other day from another student, saying something similar.


Many people learn guitar to help improve their own brain health and keep it sharp.

What is encouraging is that there are more and more studies showing that using your brain more, being creative, and keeping it active can help improve your brain health to some degree.

Hopefully, the positive research will continue.


Have a great day and keep up the practice.


Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. If you want to improve your playing and keep your brain active, check this out:

Fingerstyle 101 – a step-by-step guide to beautiful fingerpicking guitar playing


It’s been a while since I’ve done anything like this, so I thought it would be cool – for every copy of Fingerstyle 101 sold over the next two days…

I’ll donate all the profits to two dementia charities (split between the U.S. and UK).


P.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.

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