Getting Your Child Started on Guitar

Glenn Sutton teaches guitar, electric bass, keyboard, theory and improvisation for over 30 years, he specializes in rock, blues, jazz, Latin, Brazilian, classical, country, and folk.

Starting your child on a musical journey

One of the most rewarding things you can do for a boy or a girl is to get them started in music. One of the best instruments for a child to learn is guitar. Guitars are portable, versatile, and relatively easy to play. Today we will discuss why learning guitar is a great idea. We will also go over the nuts and bolts of choosing a guitar and an instructor.

Why should a child learn guitar?

Learning to play a musical instrument is rewarding on many levels. By starting with the basics of chord structure, learning keys and chords then chord progressions and on from there, a child can form logic skills. From learning proper posture and grip, finger placement, and increasing ability to switch chords on the fretboard without difficulty, a boy or girl can develop important motor skills. Perhaps best of all, by accomplishing musical goals, a child can develop healthy self-esteem.

When should a child start learning guitar?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to answering this question. Children as young as 3 or 4 can learn to play. It may seem like a cop out or an overly “Zen” statement, but the best answer is: When the child is ready. When a child expresses interest in a piece of music they hear, or see a guitar player on TV and say they would like to learn how to play that instrument, that would be an excellent time to get them started.

Older children may indicate to you that they are bored or dissatisfied and want to pick up a hobby, but they are not sure what they want to do. This is also a great time to introduce them to guitar.

Choosing the right guitar size and build

Children love toys; their guitar should not be one of them. Invest in a well-made guitar. A guitar made out of sturdy materials will last longer, sound better, and stay in tune longer. When your child outgrows his or her guitar, a well-made six-string will have far better resale value than a cheap one.

This brings us to guitar size. Many guitar makers build 1/2 and 3/4 sized guitars (about 30″ and 34-36″ respectively). As a rough guide, 3/4 sized guitars are good for 6-10 year olds, and 1/2 sized guitars are good for 3-6 year olds. Note also that there is a sizeable difference between a 34″ and 36″ 3/4-size guitar, with the former suitable for ages 5-8 and the latter for ages 6-10.

These guidelines are for children of average height for their age. If your child is large or small for their age, you will want to adjust accordingly.

Finding the right teacher

Live, one-on-one training is the best way to learn guitar, and that rule applies doubly for children. A teacher can get them started with good habits from the get-go and adjust the curriculum to suit each child. Be sure to choose an instructor who specializes in teaching children.

 

 

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