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Get your child started playing guitar

By Kate, published on 31/05/2017 Blog > Music > Guitar > How do you teach children how to play guitar?

So your child wants to learn to play guitar?

If your child wants to play an instrument, and especially if they want to learn guitar, it’s an excellent choice.

Learning to play music can help them develop and grow, explore music styles, discover new possibilities, and enrich their cultural background.

But is it easy to teach guitar to a child? How do you find guitar lessons for beginners? Will children’s guitar classes help?

How should they learn, and how often do they need to practice to improve? How long will it take before they’re strumming away on an acoustic guitar and play blues chords?

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How do you begin teaching guitar to a child?

Your child has decided that they want to learn how to play guitar.

And you roll your eyes and think, ‘my child wants to become a guitarist, what do I do?’

How should you help them? Do you need to find some beginner guitar lessons?

Is it really a good idea?

As a general rule, usually it’s the parents who encourage children to pick up a musical instrument, but if the impetus has come from the child, so much the better.

Begin learning guitar Begin learning guitar

This shows they’re motivated and eager to learn to play guitar, but before you decide they’ll become the next Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix, here are a few things to think about.

Why play guitar?

For a child, learning to play guitar has many benefits:

  • Your child will quickly learn and enjoy playing small pieces of music
  • On the guitar they can try out different musical styles, and it’s therefore a great opportunity to expand their musical horizons and introduce them to new genres like blues, jazz, flamenco, rock, and classical music.
  • A guitarist doesn’t usually need any accompaniment – most music for guitars can be played on their own (or with the help of their guitar teacher).
  • Teaching children how to play guitar helps them to increase their dexterity and coordination.

How old should you be to learn guitar?

To be comfortable holding the guitar, your child should be at least 6 or 7 years old. No matter how interested they are, there’s no point in trying to teach them how to read music, play power chords, or how to tune the frets on their first guitar if they’re still too young.

Essentially, you need to wait until they have enough muscles in their hands before you find a music teacher, even if you can buy different sized guitars for different ages.

Another important criteria is to make sure your child will be able to pay attention for at least the 20 minutes needed to practice regularly and improve their guitar playing.

Choosing a guitar

Clearly, before you buy a new guitar it’s important for a child to know what kind of music they want to play, just like any other artist – do they like classical music, or acoustic, or maybe the sounds of an electric guitar?

There are 3 kinds of guitars:

  1. The classical guitar, with nylon strings
  2. Acoustic, or folk guitars, which have a similar shape to classical guitars, but with metallic strings
  3. Electric guitars which need to be plugged in to an amp in order to play

In addition to the musical tastes and age of your child, you also need to look at the different sizes of guitar:

  • A 1/4 guitar for 4-6 year olds
  • A 1/2 guitar for children between the ages of 6 and 8
  • A 3/4 guitar for 8-12 year olds
  • A normal (full size) guitar for children over the age of 12

The benefits of learning to play guitar

Guitar lessons will help your child develop the skills necessary to play music, but the skills learned will also serve them well in later life:

Playing guitar is a skill for children Playing guitar is a skill for children

  • Tolerance and openness – they will learn about new cultures and musical styles (blues, rock, reggae, country, classical), and develop an increased appreciation for culture in general
  • Develop motor skills – your child will develop new muscles and coordination as they strum and play the strings with a pick, and they will gain confidence as they learn how to perform in public
  • Creativity – learning how to improvise and jam is a great opportunity for children to express themselves
  • Discipline – regular guitar lessons and practice will also help your child improve their discipline and ability to concentrate by employing all of their senses (sight, touch, sound, thought)

To answer the question – why teach children to play guitar? What’s the point of guitar lessons for kids? The answer seems obvious to many parents.

Guitar is a relatively good beginners’ instrument, both for its easiness to learn and its price.

Learning to play guitar helps children develop

By learning to play guitar and taking regular classes, children learn, get a chance to meet new people, can share their passion with new friends, and enrich their world.

By learning how to concentrate and practice regularly, children test their willingness to learn and determination. They learn how to focus their thoughts on the music and avoid whimsy.

Learning guitar helps improve a child’s concentration Learning guitar helps improve a child’s concentration

It’s for these reasons that we say guitar helps children develop.

In order to benefit from everything guitar has to offer, as well as buying their first guitar, it’s best to sign your child up for lessons with a professional teacher. Teachers will often run specialised lessons for kids, suitable for beginner guitarists.

There are many ways to get guitar lessons for your child:

  • a class in a local recreation center
  • Classes at a music school
  • Guitar classes with a private professor who can come to your house

Classes will help give children a good theoretical base and practical experience playing the guitar, as well as a grounding in music theory. You learn the basic parts of the guitar, including the fretboard, tuning, and how to place your fingers on the neck. With their music teacher, children will learn about the chords, strumming patterns, and tabs and start to learn different techniques like licks, barre, and fingerpicking.

Basic knowledge of music theory and playing guitar will help your child to progress to playing other pieces of music and conquer more advanced techniques and playing, including skills like jamming, playing solos, and writing their own songs.

How many classes will it take to learn guitar?

A guitar class in generally about 45 minutes to an hour, once a week.

It is recommended not to have kids take guitar lessons any more than this as it is better to keep classes short and regular, and guitar practice and playing consistent.

In addition to what they learn with their guitar teacher, children can practice every day or every other day, 15 minutes at a time.

The frequency of guitar lessons should be adjusted based on the skill and level of each guitar player.

But most of all, staying motivated is the most important thing for a child trying to learn guitar.

How do I reduce the noise while my child is practicing guitar?

Of course, learning any instrument, including guitar, can be difficult at the beginning, especially for those who live with the budding musician.

We’re often asked, how do we avoid all the annoying noise that comes from learning to play the guitar?

Claim back your sleep! Claim back your sleep!

Designate a specific time for your child to practice guitar between lessons: just 10 to 15 minutes of regular playing practice is ideal, for both your child’s budding skills, and for any listeners.

If you live in a house, there shouldn’t be any trouble defining a specific space and time to make music – everyone can learn to respect others and their tastes.

If you live in an apartment, and practicing guitar runs the risk of annoying all of your neighbors, warn them that your child will be taking a guitar course and practicing and agree a specific time. If possible, try to practice in an area that will limit the sound or find somewhere outside the apartment to practice. If it’s an electric guitar, your child can also plug their headphones into the amp and leave everyone else in peace.

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