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aliasmaximus
Registered User
Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 380
aliasmaximus
Registered User
Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 380
10/22/2023 3:05 am
#1 Originally Posted by: gustavowoltmannguitarist

We see playing guitar as a form of mindful escapism, a way to create space between an individual and their busy mind. Guitar-playing is beneficial to your overall well-being and mental health in other ways, too, including helping you develop a greater sense of personal achievement.

What you say about this?

Although learning and playing a musical instrument may serve to elevate mood temporarily, that's not always the case. I think everyone in here knows firsthand that learning guitar (especially as a beginner) comes with moments of satisfaction, but also plenty of setbacks, impatience, disappointments, anxiety, self deprecation, frustration, anger, etc. It's difficult to see how any amateur musician can improve their "mental health" (profoundly ambiguous term) while mired in this mindset every time they pick up a guitar.


Temporarily engaging in music making activities seems capable of improving mood only in people who are already free of chronic psychiatric problems. However, an emotionally healthy person who engages in making music for the purpose of improving their "mental health" (again, not clear what this means) is akin to a 20 year old getting botox injections to eliminate wrinkles. Yes, both may make a difference, albeit a decidedly insignificant one. It seems that many people associate the term "mental health" with daily mood fluctuations or beliefs pertaining to "personal achievements". I suppose that within this narrow context, making music could be seen as temporarily beneficial to one's psyche, especially for those with a grandiose assessment of their own musical knowledge and skills.


Clinically depressed individuals potentially have the most to gain from alleged depression-lowering activities like making music, exercise, meditation, etc. Unfortunately, depressed individuals are also the least capable of engaging in such activities. They have significant problems with concentration and motivation, together with inability to experience joy or satisfaction, sleep disorders that leave them chronically exhausted, unrelenting anxiety, and profound sadness and hopelessness. This usually leaves even mildly depressed individuals totally incapable of effectively playing a musical instrument. As such, I don't think that playing guitar is a realistic means of significantly improving anyone's "psychiatric health" (long term mood/thought stability).


Moreover, I believe that music can actually play a part in worsening psychiatric health when it's used as a cudgel by others trying to help. I worked as a physician on an adult psychiatric unit for a few years and patients were "for therapeutic reasons" bullied into partaking in activities typically reserved for second graders. Activities like coloring canvas bags, gluing small ceramic tiles onto wooden boxes with Elmer's glue, making macaroni jewelry... and singing infantilizing songs as a group. I can tell you from experience that corralling an entire ward of depressed adults into a cramped room, in a circle around an indifferent bored guitarist, and then forcing them to sing "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" is a humiliating, soul crushing activity that is capable of breaking the spirit of even the most resilient psych patients.


Learning guitar as a beginner or intermediate player is frustrating, difficult and excruciatingly slow. We hang in there not because it's innately satisfying, but rather because we harbor the strong belief that someday we'll advance far enough that it will become exciting and fun.


Sascha


edited