Everything You Need To Know About When To Start Your Children’s Guitar Lessons
Learning to play an instrument has many benefits and it is a great way to help your children excel in their development.
The guitar is one of the easiest instruments for young learners so you should definitely consider Children’s Guitar Lessons for your child.
The question of what age is best to learn to play guitar is a common one, and there are several factors to consider.
If you’ve done any research already, You will have found conflicting advice on the best age for children to start learning guitar. Some teachers recommend age 7, others recommend age 10, while some start their students as young as 3!
So why the big discrepancy? Let’s unpack everything you need to know about Children’s Guitar Lessons and discover the right age for your child to start learning.
A Better Approach To Children’s Guitar Lessons
When I first started teaching guitar at my local music shop they gave me a book and told me to teach out of it.
That book worked really well for some students, but not others.
It was filled with nursery rhymes and 200-year-old Beethoven songs that no one was really interested in learning.
The people it failed the most though, were the kids.
The book failed to capture their interest with any interesting or relevant musical examples. It also had a big focus on sight reading which is completely unnecessary for most people learning to play guitar.
Why Kids Need A Different Approach To Learning Guitar
The mistake most teachers, publishing companies and music schools make is that they try and teach everybody the same way.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 years old, 12 years old, 25 years old or 60 years old, you get the same guitar lesson.
If you have more than one kid you already know that a 7-year-old is considerably more developed than a 5-year-old and has very different educational needs. Thus we need to adapt our approach to the person in front of us.
When somebody recommends that they don’t teach anyone under age 10 what they are really saying is “I take a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching guitar and this person isn’t at the right stage of development to fit into the mould I use”
It’s a real shame because many enthusiastic young guitarists miss out on lessons and go for another instrument or another hobby altogether because the teacher didn’t capture their interest or give them what they needed to succeed.
Redefining What Success Looks Like In Children’s Guitar Lessons
If we created an obstacle course for adults there would be a large number of teenagers who could do it, a smaller number of children who could do it, and a large number of children who couldn’t do it at all.
If we made a different obstacle course for each age group and level of development that matched their needs and provided challenges for where they are the completion rate would be almost 100% no matter what age group you looked at.
This is where guitar teachers fail!
So instead of saying kids can’t take children’s guitar lessons until 10 years old, what we should do is redefine what success look like at age 10 and adapt our approach to helping our kids succeed.
If we redefine what success looks like at any age group and create relevant guitar lesson content and learning pathways for them then we can have great success at any age.
You need only search on youtube for “3-year-old guitarist” or “5-year-old guitarist” to see some amazing young children in action.
Children Can Start Guitar Lessons At Any Age
So instead of asking “what is the best age for my child to start learning guitar?” what you should be asking is “what does success look like for my child at their age?”
Here are the age categories and some guidelines for children’s guitar lessons:
- Ages 1-3 Infants
- Ages 3-5 Toddlers
- Ages 5-7 Kids
- Ages 8-12 Children
- Ages 13+ Teenagers
Each of these age groups coincides with different stages of development. Remember that children develop both physically and cognitively at different rates and some will not quite fit into these categories.
With a new perspective on learning, let’s take a look at what success looks like in children’s guitar lessons for different ages.
Guitar Lessons For Young Kids Aged 1-3
Children in this age group lack the fine motor skills and cognitive capacity needed to play guitar.
So we don’t try to teach them to play guitar.
Instead, we enrol them in a pre-music class where the focus is on developing a positive association with music and the ability to clap along to music and even play basic percussion instruments.
This way they begin their musical journey early and start developing the skills which will become important later on when they do start playing an instrument.
Traditionally these have been run as ‘mums and bubs’ sessions and there are bound to classes like this in your area.
Guitar Lessons For Young Kids Aged 3-5
At this age, children are starting to get a basic grasp for speaking and getting more control over their fine motor skills.
Most children at this age cannot read or write, so we want to abandon any idea of having them read music in the traditional sense.
Enrolling your child in a general music program is a great idea at this age. This way the student can sing and clap along to music, try a few percussion instruments to develop a sense of rhythm and spend a little bit of time playing guitar.
We don’t want to have the expectation that our child will be amazing. Instead, we want to build up a love and appreciation of music and nurture their interest. The technical ability will come later.
Find a general music program or a guitar teacher that runs special classes for this age group. Expect that you will need to join in and supervise yourself which doubles as a great bonding activity for you and your child.
It’s also worth mentioning that all learning at this age should take place on a ¼ size guitar.
Guitar Lessons For Children Aged 5-7
While some children are ready to learn how to play the guitar a little earlier than five, the vast majority of students will be ready by this age.
This is when we can finally enrol our kids in children’s guitar lessons and expect them to start playing music that is recognisable.
It’s important to find a teacher in your area that caters to this age group and adapts their approach to lessons to the needs of their students at this age. Otherwise, your child is going to really struggle and will likely grow bored or frustrated and quit shortly after.
Daily practice (even if it’s as little as 5 minutes per day) is a must at this age because young learners need consistency in order to develop the muscle memory required to play guitar.
Be prepared to sit with them at home every day for at least 5 minutes so you can guide them through a few exercises set by their teacher.
Children’s Guitar Lessons For Kids Aged 8-12
This is the age group where most kids are well and truly ready for children’s guitar lessons.
It’s also the age where they are starting to ask about it on their own accord.
If your child expresses interest in learning how to play guitar at this age group then I highly recommend enrolling them in a program as soon as possible. You want to strike while the iron is hot and capture their interest while it’s strong.
At this age group we still want to redefine success and simplify our approach to learning so that our children can be successful.
Have Fair Expectations On How Long It Takes To Learn Guitar
Most of the music that you hear on the radio or on your favourite CD is the product of 10 years of hard work by the guitarist on record. It’s not fair of us to expect that our child gets to that level in any less than 5-10 years.
Remember, music lessons are a long-term commitment and most of what you hear on the radio is played by professionals putting in 3+ hours into their playing for decades.
Your child will not get close to their level until they’ve accumulated thousands of hours of practice. Stick to it long term however and eventually, they will accumulate the hours and with it the skills needed to play guitar confidently.
Guitar Lessons For Teens
Something magical happens in our early teenage years…
We start to like music.
For the first time, we begin making our own choices about what we listen to. Discovering new music becomes a new behaviour and eventually, music becomes one of the factors in shaping our identity.
All of this makes the teenage years one of the best periods for anybody to start taking guitar lessons.
By this point most people have the fine motor skills needed to play guitar and are cognitively developed to the point where processing all the information is relatively easy.
Results at this age just come down to the student being motivated to practice and put in the work.
Finding The Right Guitar Teacher For Your Teen
Finding a teacher who can connect with your child and teach them the music they like is essential. Nothing puts a damper on lessons like having a completely out-of-touch teacher show you how to do what they like or deem “necessary”.
Instead, lessons should find a balance of having fun while still covering essential skills and concepts.
A great guitar teacher will be able to take the essential concepts and find relevant musical examples for your child.
Guitar Lessons For Adults
Many adults wanting to learn guitar may feel like they’ve missed the boat or will somehow be disadvantaged by learning later in life.
This is completely false!
In fact, there are several benefits to learning guitar as an adult that you never had as a kid including:
- You’re taking guitar lessons because you want to, not because your parents are forcing you.
- You have the money to invest in good guitar lessons and great equipment.
- You’re at a higher level of cognitive development and will be able to learn and understand things easier than if you were a kid.
- You’ve had decades of listening to music passively which helps develop certain skills
- The longer you’ve wanted to learn, the more motivated you will be to stick with it.
So if you’re worried about coming into the hobby of learning guitar later in life, don’t be put off.
You’re just as capable and will actually progress much faster than most children.
I also highly recommend that parents who have their kids enrolled in children’s guitar lessons take lessons themselves for a few months to get an understanding of the fundamentals needed to play.
You Can Learn Guitar At Any Age
Children have a natural curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and this can make it easier for them to pick up new skills, including playing the guitar.
Younger students may also have more time to practice and develop their skills, as they typically have fewer responsibilities than adults.
Ultimately, the best age to learn to play the guitar depends on the individual.
If you’re a parent considering children’s guitar lessons for your child, it’s important to consider their age, maturity level, and interest in music.
If you’re an adult looking to learn, consider your goals and available time for practice and realise that it’s never too late to learn.
In conclusion, rather than ask “what is the right age to learn guitar” instead we should ask “what does success look like at my child’s age?”
With the right mindset, the right program and guidance from a great guitar teacher, learning how to play the guitar is possible at any age.
So, if you’re ready to take the first step, grab a guitar and start playing!
About The Author
Meet Michael Gumley, a guitar teacher who has taught over 1000 students and delivered more than 10,000 guitar lessons in close to two decades of professional guitar teaching.
He holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary and has released 5 albums, authored 12 books on guitar playing and teaching, and created the Guitar Ninjas Curriculum, used in 20 studios around the world.
Michael’s passion for teaching guitar has helped him create a fun and engaging learning environment for his students at his Melbourne Guitar Academy studio where he tailors lessons to each student’s individual needs and goals to ensure they reach their full potential.
If you’re looking for the best children’s guitar lessons near me look no further than learning guitar with Michael