As I pluck the strings of my guitar and slide my left hand up and down the fretboard, the melody emerging begins to resemble the one from the YouTube video playing in front of me. After half an hour, I’ve reached the point where I am cohesively playing with the man on my screen, and the output is the harmonious sound of two acoustic guitars in tune with each other. The feeling of relaxation that follows after these half-hour sessions is one that I’ve happily grown accustomed to.

I began to play the guitar right before COVID-19 shut down our lives, and while the pandemic upended my daily routine, a small silver lining of quarantine was having many hours to play my guitar.

Before the pandemic, I didn’t take the guitar very seriously and was unwilling to overcome the fairly steep learning curve that comes with the practice of any musical instrument. However, after a couple weeks of boredom during the early stages of quarantine, I decided to give the guitar another shot.

I took lessons to familiarize myself with the basic motions and chords, but stopped after a few months and turned to the internet to further my learning. At first, it was disheartening to spend hours in front of a computer trying to emulate the motions of another player, only to end up no closer to mastering the song than when I started.

While the pandemic upended my daily routine, a small silver lining of quarantine was having many hours to play my guitar.

However, each new song I studied sparked a cycle of learning, within which I figured out new techniques that ended up aiding me in mastering future songs. After a few months of this, I reached the point where learning new songs was no longer something I dreaded.

Playing the guitar has slowly become a staple of my daily routine. When I am stressed, it offers an escape to another planet, where nothing matters except the next note on my screen. When I just want to take a break, songs like “Sugar” by Robin Schulz or “Chanel” by Frank Ocean instantly relieve any worries I may have. When I feel like getting fresh air, I sit on a swing with my dog, and listen as each of my songs slowly dissipate into the wind.

I have had countless days where I enter my front door feeling stressed and mentally drained, and my first thought is always to play the guitar. I change into my pajamas, brush my teeth, pick up my guitar, get into bed and begin to play. Listening to my favorite songs through my guitar alleviates all of the day’s stress, and always allows me to sleep peacefully.   

With junior year starting to pick up and my work load beginning to intensify, I’ve been left with far less free time than what I’ve been accustomed to for the majority of my life. But if anything, playing the guitar will end up making all the work more manageable because it offers me an outlet to destress. Hearing a plethora of individual notes coming together to create one united song will always brighten my day and I am eager to continue exploring all that the guitar has to offer and the subsequent lessons and experiences that will accompany it.