There are many reasons to learn jazz guitar. Some of the following can be applied to just about any style of guitar, but I feel jazz provides a bit of an enhanced platform. ;-)
These benefits range from musical to emotional and, perhaps, even spiritual. If you decide to take up jazz guitar, I think you will find this to be true.
Play Your Favorite Songs
If you are looking into learning how to play jazz guitar, you were probably a fan of it already to some degree. Learning these tunes can be a fun way for you to put your own spin on some of your favorite songs.
There is also the added benefit of being able to entertain guests or friends at gatherings.
Look, it's no secret that as a society our attention spans have dropped a great deal. I'm sure there is a study somewhere. Science, back me up.
Anyway, learning to play guitar requires you to sit and focus on a task at a time for extended periods of time. At least, this is the case for serious practicers and people who really want to take the next step forward.
Early on, it's very easy to get frustrated and want to put it down. But the intrinsic reward you receive when you can finally do something you couldn't previously do is quite fulfilling.
This will push you forward and teach you a bit about determination and yes, focus.
The focus you attain from this is invaluable and will permeate other parts of your life.
Now here is a benefit that many will be able to relate to. Some of us like to get home from our daily responsibilities and grab a beer, or maybe go for a jog. We all try to find ways to mitigate stress.
Learning to express yourself through music is another great method! Music has a unique way of allowing us to take what we're feeling at the moment and push it out through our instrument.
It is incredibly cathartic and, let's face it, we all need something like that.
Refine Aural Skills
In order to learn to play jazz guitar, you will have to do a good bit of listening along the way. As you learn to discern different sounds, you'll be amazed at the things you are able to pick out.
This kind of skill will also teach you a lot about the way our minds react to different chords, intervals, etc.
Once you understand how these devices work, you can make use of them to evoke specific moods or feelings in your own compositions and improvisations.
Nothing helps your confidence like setting goals for yourself and achieving them.
Learning to play jazz guitar presents so many different challenges that you'll never be short of goals to strive toward.
This can also be the source of undue frustration, but learning to tackle each challenge will teach you to stay organized and on track. This will also be a great boost to your self-confidence.
Learn How You Learn Things
Learning how you learn things is an invaluable piece of knowledge.
I'm not sure how much science there is to the idea that some are visual learners while others prefer other methods, but I know that figuring out what your own process is can be incredibly helpful.
This will be something you can carry into other parts of your life.
One of the first things people notice when they first pick up a guitar is how difficult it is to get your left and right hands to cooperate.
Whether you decide you want to play with a pick or with your fingers, you have to be able to get your hands to be on the same page.
While I don't believe you'll use this skill set in too many other areas, it's great brain exercise and it will greatly improve your overall dexterity and coordination.
Expand Cultural Awareness
It goes without say that learning to play different styles of music will help to expand your cultural awareness.
All music reflects its origins in some way. Learning about music is learning about different people and their cultures.
Connect with New People
It follows that connecting with new cultures means connecting with more people from different walks of life.
The great thing about music is that it is a worldwide language. You can meet someone from another part of the world, and if they play music, you can communicate on some level.
This is especially true of jazz. The popular standards are popular everywhere. All you have to do is say the name of a tune, and if the person is a jazz musician, you can connect musically right away.
To conclude, it's easy to see how learning to play jazz guitar can improve your quality of life in several ways.
The benefits range from the intrinsic reward of achievement to improving coordination and more.
For me, the greatest benefit aside from being able to play music is that you learn what it means to repeat something you can't do over and over until you can finally do it.
There's no way to teach that other than through actual experience.
How to Play Jazz Guitar
Our crash course on the fundamentals of playing jazz guitar with links to more great content.
Interested in learning how to improvise?
If you've ever wondered where to get started with jazz improv, how to approach playing changes, and so on, our Beginner's Guide to Jazz Improv is just the thing you need!
Jonathan Orriols is a guitar player out of Miami, Florida with 20 years of experience. He writes and performs music in several groups spanning different genres such as jazz, blues, and rock. He also studied composition for film, tv, and games through Berklee’s online program.