Unless you have a good Guitar teacher who gets it, Guitar Lessons for Kids can be a little discouraging for children.
When can a child start Guitar lessons?
At first there are a lot of things going against you with Guitar lessons for Kids. Finger strength, left and right hand coordination, lack of callouses, attention span, the size of the Guitar, discipline for regular practice and even finger size will all affect the progress of learning.
That’s why many Guitar teachers will suggest holding off on Guitar lessons for Kids until the student is around 9 years old.
Just as a suggestion as a teacher, for the best success rate for learning the Guitar as a child, the student should start on Piano (age 4-7). It’s probably not what the child wants but I’ve never had a student who started on Piano ever quit the Guitar when they were old enough (and they all excelled at the Guitar). The last thing anyone wants to see is a child giving up on music because it’s too hard.
Around age 7 or 8, Kids who want to learn Guitar can easily move into learning the Ukulele. This is honestly the easiest way to get into learning the Guitar for smaller hand sizes. Even learning the chord and scale shapes on the Ukulele directly apply to the Guitar. *For future reference, imagine the Ukulele is the first 4 strings of the Guitar, only capoed or cut off at the 5th fret of the Guitar. It’s the same instrument!)
Goals for Guitar Students
Aside from the physical limitations, another reason why students drop out of lessons is if they don’t have a goal.
Listen, most students will have an idea why they want to learn the Guitar. Maybe it’s to play with other people (it was for me), popularity, the vision of being around a campfire leading others in a sing-along, being on stage, playing in church. So many reasons that could be your reason WHY!
A good teacher recognizes this and will provide low stress and supportive performance opportunities like recitals or concerts so the student can use their developing skills at least a couple of times a year.
Some Guitar teachers will take it a step further and introduce a student slowly to the idea of talking over a microphone at the performance. This could be as simple as saying “Hi” or “Hey” and then later introducing themselves and the song they will perform. Maybe even trading scripted jokes with their Guitar teachers after a few years.
You see, learning the Guitar and learning how to be in front of an audience is so beneficial on many levels. Who do you think will be more comfortable at a future board meeting, someone who learned how to talk over a microphone to an audience or one who didn’t?
If you want to get better at the Guitar, you’ll need to play it at least 20 minutes a day 5 days a week so you can develop the finger “memory” and coordination. Getting the students to play recognizable songs or songs they can shoot for can also be a way to keep them motivated.
It’s worth noting that as soon as a student understands rhythm get them to play along to a recording of a song. Playing along with a drummer this way is a lot more fun than playing with a Metronome (more on that later). It’s good for ear training and recognizing rhythms being played too. With software or even YouTube, students can slow a song down to make it easier to play along to. Once the student can play it at a slower tempo, challenge them to increase the tempo 5% at a time until they can play the song at full speed.
Learning the Guitar as a Kid
Taking Guitar Lesson for Kids can be challenging, especially when the instant gratification of touch screens are so much easier to learn. But if you have a good teacher who will provide goals and figure out why the student wants to play the Guitar, you’ll be on a great track to success!
Noel offers online and in-person Guitar lessons at the Upbeat Music Academy in Kelowna