A brand new research conducted by Fender themselves has now discovered that the guitar players of today are generally more diverse than ever before, and that women specifically are beginning to define the emerging guitar market, accounting for a little over 50 percent of all beginner and aspirational players. However in saying that, the growing diversity of players expands beyond gender. Both African-American and Hispanic players now also represent a significant and growing share of new players, with African-American players accounting for 19 percent of aspirational players, while Latin players make up approximately 25 percent of beginner players.
“Today’s players have grown up in a different cultural context and popular music landscape, and rising artists like Mura Masa, Tash Sultana, Youngr, Daniel Caesar, Grimes and Ed Sheeran are changing the way guitar is being used,” said Fender CEO Andy Mooney. “As a brand, we are committed to creating tools – both physical and digital – that this generation of creators needs for self-expression, now and in the future.” He continued.
Fender’s research also discovered that currently, new players’ motivations for learning guitar aren’t just because of the typical rockstar dream, with a total of 72 percent of the study’s respondents citing they picked up guitar for the first time to gain a life skill or as a means to better them self. Fender consulted Daniel Levitin, an American-Canadian cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist, writer, musician, and record producer throughout the study who shared, “Playing an instrument can certainly improve a person’s overall well-being. Playing even five minutes a day can lead to a range of physical, mental and emotional benefits.”
During the study, participants of the research confirmed that they had experienced obvious emotional benefits by playing guitar, such as increased creativity and self-expression, but also cited less obvious benefits like increased patience, confidence in them self and their skills, work ethic and persistence over time. Playing an instrument also has proven physical benefits for participants, including enhanced hand-eye coordination, a boost to the immune system and enhanced brain development, especially in youth and older players. Other mental benefits associated with playing music with others include increased feelings of compassion, bonding, empathy and generosity toward others, as well as heightened self-efficacy.
An Australian guitarist, Ionei Heckenberg, who is recognisable by his position in Metal band, Ocean Sleeper, commented on his own experience with his time playing guitar. “Playing guitar led to my entire career,” he explained. “At around 14 I seriously got into guitar, which led to my first band with two of my best friends, one of which is still my closest friend now, 13 years later.” Heckenberg continued, pinpointing guitar as his reason for discovering his appreciation for music. “I wouldn’t have ever really discovered my appreciation for creating music and how much it helps me through hard times, and generally the weight of life. Through playing I have been able to support myself and achieve my dream job as a Record Producer, share the stage with my best friends and have some of the best moments of my life.”
Learning an instrument has also been proven to even help warn off Alzheimer’s disease, Levitin said. “After 60, playing an instrument can help you retrain and remap neural circuits that are inclined to atrophy, which helps you stay mentally young,” he noted. “Learning an instrument can also help develop your brain when you are a kid.”
Mental benefits were another potential result of playing an instrument, according to the Fender research. “Playing an instrument has a meditative aspect that can release positive hormones in the brain and can reduce the stress hormone Cortisol, increase productivity, and create social bonding to combat loneliness in the digital age,” added Levitin. “Playing music with other people produces the chemical oxytocin, a binding chemical that promotes trust and social bonding and makes you feel better.”
He then went on to explain that “Playing a musical instrument is a valued skill.” Adding that when we play an instrument, it allows us to see ourselves differently. The mental benefits of playing an instrument extend to all types or players – from beginners to experienced artists.
The type of music most played also differed between the UK and U.S. with Rock, Classic Rock, Hip-Hop, and Country more prevalent in the U.S. and Blues, Indie Rock and Reggae favoured among U.K. listeners and players equally. Although while only the UK and U.S. were compared, there are clear signs of it differentiating throughout other parts of the world too.
The lifestyle of players in both regions also differed slightly – with those living in the UK naturally inhabiting more urban areas than their U.S. friends, who tend to live in more suburban-based areas. In saying that, both tend to have humble aspirations and are not necessarily wanting to achieve “rockstar status” with 61 percent of players simply wanting to learn new songs to play by themselves for their own entertainment, or to play socially for others’ entertainment.