Your child comes home from school or wakes up one morning full of enthusiasm, and tells you all about their sudden passion and determination to learn to play guitar.
Good God – what do you do? How do you begin? Have they succumbed to the siren call of music already? What do you need to do? Are they too young? What are the first steps?
The ability to appreciate music, and especially to learn to play an instrument like the guitar, is something that most children will have a natural aptitude for, given their natural curiosity, imagination, and thirst for knowledge.
With all of these qualities to help them, it is very possible that your child will quickly master the basics of guitar and fall in love with the instrument. Soon they may spend half their time holed up in their room, strumming away and playing the guitar.
You don’t need to spend too much time googling ‘guitar lessons for beginners’, the answer is pretty simple – no, there is no required age to learn guitar or to begin guitar lessons for your child.
There’s no right age to begin learning guitar!
In general, it’s best for children to be about 6 or 7 years old when they begin learning guitar – any younger and children lack the physical maturity to play (their fingers won’t be strong enough to press on the strings and play them) or the intellectual maturity for the discipline and concentration that guitar lessons will require.
Children must have a sense of coordination in order to play the chords and learn more advanced techniques like fretting, finger picking, and chord progressions.
Learning guitar has many benefits for children.
At a minimum, your child must have the basic skills and abilities to learn an instrument like the guitar, and be comfortable taking lessons from an adult or an older child.
Even if you find a good guitar teacher who has lots of experience, is in great shape, and has taught before, they still won’t be able to teach everything in just a few days, but children do have an incredible ability to learn quickly.
They will listen attentively to their guitar teacher.
Their brains will completely absorb everything they’re taught. The earlier that your child begins learning, the better they’ll be able to quickly correct any errors and to play at a high level when they’re older.
In order to play guitar, it’s important to have four key things: structure, discipline, patience, and interest.
Before you do anything else, you do need to check if your child is really interested in learning. If you’re sure that they’re motivated and really serious, there’s no reason not to let them try guitar, especially with all the positive benefits it can bring.
Try to introduce your child to music by example – if you like music and play an instrument yourself, play for your child and answer their questions.
Once you know that they are really interested, you need to explore which instrument is right. Introduce your child to the world of music and give them a choice of all the different instruments, including the guitar. There are many advantages to playing the guitar.
By introducing your child to music in this way, they’ll begin to have a sense of the wide variety of music, and can start to hear different sounds, play a bit themselves, and perhaps begin to develop a preference for a specific instrument.
Get the advantages of guitar playing
For older children, music schools and certain town recreation departments might have free open days or trial classes where your child can experience the atmosphere, and you can see how comfortable they seem with the instrument, fellow students, and the teacher.
The most important thing is to evaluate whether or not your child is truly interested and motivated to learn guitar, or if it’s more of a passing fancy, influenced by their friends or what they’ve seen on TV.
Learning guitar is a serious undertaking and requires a certain leave of discipline and maturity. Your child should realise that beginning lessons will have an impact on their schedule and on their life.
Talk to them not only about music classes and guitar lessons, but also about things like music theory, which serve as a general foundation for learning guitar. Is your child ready to take guitar lessons, and to go to class once a week with a teacher?
Clearly, there are also other ways to learn how to play the guitar, but when you’re a child, you require the help and guidance of a professional in order to learn the basics of music theory, how to hold your instrument, to avoid errors, and when you do make them, how to fix them.
If your child plays the guitar at home, they will also need to learn how to limit the noise they make playing guitar.
Once your child has passed all of the tests and proven themselves sincere in their wish to learn guitar, the next step is buying a guitar.
You can’t just find any guitar – for starters, there are guitars made specifically for children of different ages, and as well, letting your child pick a guitar because it fits a certain price bracket or because they like the way it looks won’t do them any good in the long run.
But how do you choose the right guitar for your child? How do you buy a guitar for a beginner?
It is important to buy a guitar that suits them, and is right for their size and age as well as their musical tastes…and that stays within a reasonable budget! Choosing your child’s first guitar is an important step on this journey, and will play a role in determining what comes next.
It’s also pointless to buy them an electric guitar if they want to play classical or folk music.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that the guitar will be a central part of their new musical journey, and it must be something that they want to play.
There are three different kinds of guitars that your child could choose – classical guitar, folk guitar, or electronic guitar.
Find the correct guitar type for your kid
…has three thicker, metal strings, and three thinner, higher strings made from nylon, which is a lot less painful for little fingers.
The neck of the guitar is longer than on a folk or electric guitar, and will require more effort from your child’s left hand.
The styles best suited to this guitar include flamenco, classical, tango, or historical pieces.
A folk guitar is similar to a classical guitar, but is less wide, and all the strings are metallic to give it that ‘country’ sound.
The neck is shorter than an acoustic guitar, and your left hand has less to do, but be careful – there aren’t normally any special sizes for children.
There’s no hole to make noise with this guitar; if you want to play, you need to plug it into an amp which will play the vibrations of its strings.
The neck of an electric guitar is similar to a folk guitar but the difference between the high notes is more noticeable.
All of the strings are metallic.
This type of guitar is very popular amongst musicians because it has lots of possibilities and can play blues, rock, funk, pop, and metal.
But be careful when you’re choosing a specific model, electric guitars are generally more expensive than acoustic or folk guitars.
Even if an acoustic guitar might seem more suitable for a child, especially with its nylon strings, some parents prefer to start with an electric guitar because the neck is shorter, and the noise is easier to control since the child can wear headphones instead of using an amp.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a music professional like a guitar teacher or a specialist salesperson in a guitar store.
Once your child has decided what kind of music they want to play, you need to take into account their size and age.
For children 4-6 years old (less than 3 1/2 feet tall), you usually use a 1/4 guitar, which looks a bit like a toy.
For 6-8 year olds (about 4 feet), a 1/2 guitar will be the right size.
For children between the ages of 8-12 (about 4 1/2-5 ft), a 3/4 guitar will be perfect.
Children older than 12 and adolescents can go straight to a full size guitar.
All of these sizes don’t always stay the same in the store however; the best thing is to have your child try several different guitars and see which ones they like and which ones fit them the best.