3 Best Guitar Lessons for Seniors (and helpful tips)
Regardless of your age, learning a musical instrument — like the guitar — is a healthy activity that improves your quality of life dramatically. If we look at music education statistics, we see that participation in learning a musical instrument (or some kind of music program) helps your brain in a variety of ways that aren’t just related to music itself.
This means that for senior citizens, learning the guitar can be about more than just a new hobby.
It can help you stay sharper and improve your quality of life in a wider range of ways, including improved creativity and better hand-eye coordination.
In this article, we’re looking at the best guitar lessons for seniors from online sources that we’ve tested and reviewed ourselves. These are lessons that you watch on your computer, just like you would watch a YouTube video or a show on Netflix. We’ll go through our three favorites and then give some additional information below.
If you’re looking for a broader list of options, checkout our online guitar lesson reviews page.
Best Guitar Lessons for Seniors: Top 3 Picks
1. Guitar Tricks Lessons: 92.8 Rating
- MONTHLY PRICE: $19
- YEARLY PRICE: $179
- VIDEO COUNT: 11,000
- IDEAL SKILL LEVEL: Beginner
Why We Like It
As mentioned in the top box, Guitar Tricks has the best organization system and topical order of any online program. This is especially crucial for seniors that might want a learning path laid out for them, and would prefer to not jump around from topic to topic. Guitar Tricks does the best job of laying everything out and letting you walk straight through the lessons without skipping important information.
- Our most recommended program for beginners
- Videos can be downloaded and watched offline (if you have a membership)
- Course organization is excellent
- Song lesson section is the best of its kind
- Advanced content tends to fall off
- Video downloads happen one at a time
- Courses not available for one-time purchase
- Over 11,000 total edu lessons
- Over 1000 total song lessons
- Licensed tabs included
- 14 day free trial available with credit card
- Cancel before 60 days (after the free trial) for a refund
- 10 designated beginners courses
- Over 3 million members
- Courses typically have around 200–250 videos
TrueFire Guitar Lessons (course downloads): 86.1 Rating
- MONTHLY PRICE: $29
- YEARLY PRICE: $149
- VIDEO COUNT: 45,000
- IDEAL SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate to advanced
Why We Like It
TrueFire is a good fit for seniors that know their way around guitar lessons and have had some experience with the guitar. We like it for folks who want to learn specific topics, perhaps in multiple areas of study. Since TrueFire makes all their courses available for a one-time download, it’s easy to jump around to different styles and techniques. If you’re looking for that kind of variety, TrueFire will be a better option than Guitar Tricks.
- Great for experienced players that want to explore different topics and ideas
- All courses can be downloaded with a one-time purchase, with or without a DVD
- TrueFire has the most courses and videos of any program
- Yearly streaming price is a good deal
- Monthly rate is more expensive than Guitar Tricks
- No song section
- Over 45,000 total edu lessons
- No song section
- Licensed tabs included
- 30 day free trial available with credit card
- SoundSlice backend
- Streaming option with access to everything is also available
3. Justinguitar (free videos & courses): 85.2 Rating
- MONTHLY PRICE: Free
- YEARLY PRICE: Free
- VIDEO COUNT: 900
- IDEAL SKILL LEVEL: Beginner
Why We Like It
Not only is Justinguitar completely free, but it’s a great program in its own right. With lots of beginner content and organized courses, you can get the same kind of experience with Justinguitar that you get with other paid programs. This is great for seniors wanting to test the waters with the guitar before getting into a paid program.
- Great for getting family with guitar and seeing if you like taking lessons
- All videos are also on YouTube
- Course organization is quite good
- Lots of song lessons
- Justin Sandercoe’s teaching is patient and easy to follow along with
- Not great for intermediate and advanced guitar players
- Having just one teaching personality limits perspective and expertise
- Over 900 total edu lessons
- Over 550 total song lessons
- Use likely unlicensed
- Program is open source and free to use
- Progress tracker requires an email sign up
- Content is hosted on YouTube and available there as well
- URL: Justinguitar.com
- Organized into courses, primarily by skill level
Is it possible to learn guitar as a senior?
While it’s true that learning new things and new concepts gets harder as you get older, it’s almost always possible to learn guitar, even into your 60s and 70s. For seniors, the biggest issue will likely be having the physical mobility in their hands necessary to play, primarily as it relates to your flexor tendons. But, even that is something you can work on and build up to.
I’d argue it’s always possible to learn guitar, and that age should certainly not preclude you from jumping into the process.
I’m over 60: Is that too old to learn?
Learning guitar over 60 is still very doable, but will — of course — depend on your situation. People with arthritis or joint problems could have a more difficult time, but we’ll delve more into that later. Generally, 60 is definitely not too late to learn guitar.
Benefits of Learning Guitar as a Senior
As I mentioned previously, there is a wide range of benefits that come with learning a musical instrument. Here are some that specifically apply to seniors.
- Provides an easily accessible hobby
- Music can sharpen the mind in other scholastic pursuits (math, science, reading, etc.)
- Improved motor skills
- Improved wrist and hand strength
- Low-impact activity
Of course there are other benefits, but these are the primary things you might notice after playing guitar for a few months.
Tips for Seniors Taking Guitar Lessons
How can senior citizens get more out of their guitar lesson programs, either online or in person? Here are a few tips I’d recommend, particularly as it relates to online classes.
Tip #1: Limit lesson watch time
Most online guitar lesson videos are 10 minutes or less (many are under five minutes). As a result, it can be tempting to watch a lot of them at once. I’d recommend fighting that temptation and aiming for about 30 minutes of lesson watching at a time. Once you’re done with the videos, your practice time — where you apply what you’ve learned — can be longer.
Tip #2: Use a device you’re familiar with
Some devices are better for watching guitar lessons than others. Personally, I prefer an iPad, but that’s just because I find it easy to use and it’s something I’m familiar with. But you might be more comfortable with a desktop computer or smart phone, so just use whatever you’re most familiar with and find the easiest to navigate.
Tip #3: Watch with a guitar-in-hand
Make sure that as you watch guitar lessons on a screen that you have your guitar in-hand, and you play along as much as possible. As I mentioned, the real practicing will come after the lesson is over, but many of these lessons incorporate practicing and application into the video itself, so it helps to be ready with a guitar that you can follow along with.
Tip #4: Practice away from a screen
You’ll watch your lesson videos on a screen, but when you’re ready to practice what you’ve learned, it’s good to get into the habit of doing so away from any screens. This lets you focus on developing your own abilities and removes the distraction of a computer or device.
Tip #5: Use an acoustic guitar
Most seniors will prefer an acoustic guitar for learning, a choice that I would agree with. Acoustics are simple to play without plugging in, even if the strings are a little harder to push down (acoustic steel strings are heavier). They’re also easy to pick up and move around without having to plug anything in or move anything with.
Understanding the Technical Side of Streaming Lessons
For those wanting help with the technical side of online guitar lessons, I’ll go over the basics here. As I mentioned before, you’ll be streaming lessons which means you’ll play them on a website, just like you would a YouTube video. Here are a couple technical issues to keep in mind.
Your Internet Connection
You will need some form of a high-speed internet to stream videos, though it’s likely that you already have it. If you’re considering upgrading from your current internet service, here are some low cost service providers that you might find helpful.
Browser and Accessing Lessons
You’ll access lessons when you sign up for a membership, via your web browser, just like you’re accessing this website right now. Once in, you’ll login with your account information and you can browse videos or courses at your leisure. Just keep in mind the browser on your computer or device will likely be the simplest way to access the material, unless the program has a dedicate app, like the Guitar Tricks app.
On the technical side, here are few additional resources that could be helpful for you:
Dealing with Physical Pain: Easy Fixes
As I’ve already mentioned, physical pain can be an issue with playing guitar and it’s truly no respecter of age. I’ve had a ton of elbow and shoulder pain related to playing guitar and I’m only 33 at the time of writing this.
It stands to reason that seniors will likely experience some of this as well.
Keep in mind, this shouldn’t be construed as medical advice, but just some practical tips to avoid getting too sore. We’d recommend consulting with your doctor or physician for more specific diagnosis and help. However, for general guitar-related pain, here are a few common issues and remedies.
If you notice that playing guitar is hurting your shoulder, it could have something to do with your posture and how you’re strumming. It could also be because you play primarily sitting down. I noticed that my shoulder would really hurt when I played guitar sitting down, so an easy fix for me was to just stand up and use a strap.
Elbow Pain and Tennis Elbow
Another common problem can be tendinitis in your arm joints or what many refer to as “tennis elbow.” Even in a low-impact activity like strumming a guitar, that repeated movement can start to hurt and make it difficult to strum or even pick strings. Here are some resources on tennis elbow, though in most cases the best way forward is just to rest your arm.
Wrist pain — if related to guitar playing — will almost always occur in the left wrist or the “fretting hand” wrist (the one that plays the chords). This is usually an issue of posture, related to how you bend your wrist when pressing down strings. Here are a few ways to correct it.
Fingers and Hands
Pain in your fingers and joints will occur more when you start playing guitar. Most of the time this is just expected soreness because your hands are getting stronger and you’re building dexterity (strength). Arthritis or pre-existing joint pain can certainly make this worse, in which case taking breaks and building fretboard strength slowly are the best ways to proceed.
People who play guitar and have lower back pain tend to have the opposite of the shoulder problem, perhaps because they’ve played standing up and a bit hunched over. The easiest fix is to play sitting down more often and to try and stand up as straight as much as possible if and when you do play standing up.
Conclusion and Questions
While there are certainly some unique challenges involved with learning the guitar when you’re older, I would never say that it’s too hard or that you shouldn’t try. If you have interest in something like the guitar, you’ll be able to learn it to whatever degree you’re willing to invest time in it.
Thus, the guitar lessons we’ve recommended for seniors are not just great lessons, but they’re programs that help encourage and maintain that interest over time.
The more you learn, the more you’ll want to play and involve yourself with the instrument.
This is true for someone who is 70 years old or seven years old.
Your Question and Comments
Do you have questions about the lessons we’ve recommended or the other info we’ve covered in this article? If so, drop a line in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help out.