Teaching Guitar to Young Kids
Guitar is actually one of the more difficult instruments for a young child to learn, and taking that into consideration can avoid a lot of frustration when trying to teach a young child to play. Playing guitar requires a decent amount of hand strength, dexterity, reach, patience, and long sightedness that most kids simply donít have. On top of that, most beginner guitarists, regardless of age, tend to have pain issues until their calluses develop. There are quite a few guitarists that started very young, but there is a reason why the starting age of most guitarists is significantly higher than most instruments. Keeping the following tips in mind will help make sure a younger child gets the most from learning to play the guitar.
1) Make Sure they Really Want to Specifically Play Guitar
If you just want to expose your child to music or they just want to learn an instrument, the guitar is not a great instrument for a younger child to learn. Learning a different instrument and music theory and then swapping to the guitar as they get a little older can be a lot easier. If they want to specifically learn guitar, then that is great, and they should start on guitar, but the physical aspect is more difficult than most instruments and it usually takes longer to see real results learning to play it, which can make it less ideal for younger kids to learn.
If they really want to play guitar specifically, then they are far, far less likely to get frustrated by those issues, and stick with it. A kid that wants to just learn any instrument might be better off learning sometime like piano or drums or some other instrument (keep in mind far more elementary schools teach orchestra and band instruments, but not guitar), especially when they can often get some training through school, as well. Music theory holds true for all instruments, and it takes far longer to learn about music itself than it does learning the physical aspect of playing an instrument. That isnít to say a young kid canít learn to play guitar, there are plenty of guitarists that started quite young, but it does require more patience, dedication, and practice then most other musical instruments.
2) Donít Push for Progress
Learning to play guitar requires developing a lot of muscle strength, dexterity, and finger independence, and that does take time. This also varies a great deal from one person to the next. An older beginning guitarist is a lot more likely to notice when they are pushing themselves too hard and risking injuring themselves (there is a lot of tension on guitar strings being directly manipulated by the guitar fingers, you can injure yourself just by playing), but a young child might not notice the same signs as easily. In addition, it does take time to develop calluses and starting to play guitar does hurt for awhile, if they need to ease into that aspect of it, than let them.
You can try all you want to try to focus on the lower impact techniques and try to tailor lessons to a kids hands, and for some people that might be the best choice. However, if a child isnít going to quit playing guitar the second they donít feel pressured to do so, then odds are they really want to learn how to play. Easing into the same kind of lessons and training that an older guitarist would go to at a pace reasonable enough to let their hands develop is likely going to be far more satisfying for them.
3) Make Sure they are Enjoying It
A lot of parents, with good intentions, do basically end up forcing their kids to play musical instruments, that is why the vast majority of them quit as soon as they possibly can. Especially for an instrument like guitar, where a younger child is legitimately at a disadvantage, making sure they actually enjoy it is especially important. If this is something they like to do, they are going to practice and stick to it, which is very important to learn to play an instrument. If they like learning and playing the guitar, then all the issues and disadvantages they have arenít going to matter, they will keep working at it until they learn whatever they are working on. If they arenít enjoying themselves, they arenít going to put the time and effort into learning guitar, and maybe that means it is that they are still a little young or maybe it just means they just donít want to play guitar, in either case, they will get very little out of guitar training. The more a kid enjoys learning and playing the guitar, the more they will get out of lessons and training, no matter where it comes from.
Keep on rockin'!