Guitar for Kids - Learning Guitar for Children

What You Need to Know as a Parent

Playing guitar is great fun, and while it’s easy to learn it takes a lifetime to master. If your children have an interest in music, then learning to play the guitar is a skill that will benefit them throughout their entire life.

If they develop a passion for it, then you can be assured that we have the training and resources to teach them as far as they want to go.

Fun is always the key to learning, and especially for children, at the Australian Guitar institute we plan your children’s guitar lessons to gently guide your child to learn.

Every lesson they will go a little further while always enjoying themselves and never thinking of playing guitar as a chore.

Some of the benefits of learning a musical instrument include:

  • Learning  the importance of patience and dedication
  • Developing and improving hand-eye coordination and dexterity
  • Developing essential rhythm awareness
  • Giving your children a fantastic outlet that encourages them to be creative


What Age to Start Children's Guitar Lessons?

As a parent of young children your first question is probably when is your child ready to start learning guitar. It really depends on each individual child. Some are ready to begin at age six while others might not be ready until they are ten or even older.

To help you decide if your child is ready for guitar lessons, here are few things to consider:


Things for Parents and Kids to Consider

Playing Guitar Requires Dexterity

The biggest physical hurdle young kids face when learning guitar is their lack of fine motor skills and hand strength. Switching chords on guitar needs nimble fingers, and many kids don't develop the required level of dexterity until they are eight or nine.  

At 7 – 8 years old they must be directed differently to older students. There are the obvious physical limitations of small hands and bodies.

Although this can be catered for as there are many ½ and ¾ size guitars available. Please see the separate section below on choosing a guitar for more on this.

However, it is vital that developing young hands & forearms are not forced to attempt actions they are not yet strong enough for.

While the approach to teaching younger children guitar differs slightly from working with older students the basic objectives are the same – to be able to play rhythm and melody in time to the music.


Learning Guitar Takes Patience and Practice

Learning anything takes practice and there is always homework in the form of chords, scales and songs to memorize and practice. If not worked on routinely, kids will fall behind, and frustrate both their guitar teacher and themselves.

However, teaching younger children to play guitar takes a slightly different approach to older children. Younger kids are less likely to understand that they have to practice technical elements of guitar playing for their own sake. Nor are they likely to get the notion of some reward such as a better technique at some point in the future.


Forcing Young Kids to Learn Guitar Doesn't Produce Results

For a child, if it isn’t fun NOW they're not doing it and that’s why at the Australian Guitar Institute we place a heavy emphasis on fun (and not just for children.)

Children want to play guitar stuff that's relevant to them now; this includes what they hear on the radio, TV themes and surprisingly some classic rock.

It is often a good idea to teach fragments of songs on guitar rather than whole complete pieces of music. This way they are less likely to get bored and frustrated by being forced to bang away at the same thing for hours on end.


Understand the Practicalities

If you as a parent or even your child’s guitar teacher aren’t aware of the practicalities of a child learning guitar, then it can create a negative impact that can put them off playing music for a long time.

It may be just too hard, the guitar maybe too big, the child isn’t learning any songs they like, it may be an interruption to their daily life. In such circumstances the child will quit as soon as they can in order to do something else that they are more interested in.

How Do I Know if Guitar Lessons are Right for My Child?

In order to avoid creating the above negative situation here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Is your child is at least six years old? Kids under six are too young to benefit from formal guitar lessons, as they require dexterity and levels of concentration children their age can't provide.
  • Does your child have sufficient hand dexterity? If your child hasn't yet really developed their fine motor skills, guitar lessons will be a struggle. Although playing guitar can help develop these motor skills, maintaining a child's interest during this development will be a major challenge.
  • Can your child maintain focus for periods of time? If your child doesn't have the attention span to maintain a daily 15 minute practice schedule, consider waiting a while before enrolling them in formal guitar lessons. Studies have shown that a child's effective attention span in minutes is roughly equivalent to his or her age in years. So we can structure lessons and practice around this to help them to progress without really getting to formal about it.
  • Does your child show significant interest in the guitar? If they're not showing interest in the guitar, pushing them into lessons may only serve to develop distaste for something they might have otherwise enjoyed.


Can We Start Later?

Just because a child isn't ready for guitar lessons today doesn't mean you can't make the guitar a part of their lives. Introducing kids to the guitar outside the structure of formal guitar lessons can allow them to begin to interact with and appreciate the instrument on their own terms. Here are some things you can do to foster their interest and appreciation of music:

  • Play guitar with your kids. If you play guitar yourself, then you can engage with your kids on their terms - play them songs they know, and encourage them to sing along. If they want to strum your guitar while you're trying to play - let them!
  • Leave a guitar out for your kids to play with. If you leave a guitar out, sooner or later the kids will start bashing on it and copying what they see their heroes do on TV. It may not be tuneful, but just let them have fun. Eventually they will figure out that they need to get lessons if they are really interested.
  • Provide positive feedback on what they play. Your kids will naturally thrash the strings as hard as they can - show them they can also play quietly, and that it can sound cool to play that way. When that doesn't work, just point out that if they play quietly for a while, when they start to bang again, it will be even louder!
  • Point out guitar in the music they like.  Make an effort to point out the role the guitar plays in their favourite music.


Private or In-School Guitar Lessons?

You may be wondering if it is better for your child to have lessons at their school, if these are available to you. I teach both at my own studio and at several colleges around Perth. There are considerations for both.

School lessons are convenient and fit in with the daily or weekly structure of school life. However, for some the experience is that lessons at school are disruptive to the student’s academic work. They can, cause concern for parents when they find that they have been billed for a lesson that their child was stopped from attending by another classroom conflicting activity.

Having lessons at an external studio, after school hours can be more productive. Most children are more focused when they are in a different environment for a specific activity; school-based lessons make the activity seem to be just ‘part of school’. Also, depending on the school, guitar lessons are often treated as a group activity; guitar is far more successfully taught in private lessons.


Parental Support

In order to see real progress in kids’ guitar playing it is necessary for you the parent to get on board. Make sure the guitar is always tuned. Children can't practice on a guitar that isn't in tune, but it’s easy enough these days with electronic tuners for around $25 or even apps for you mobile phone.

Make sure they do practice daily, even if only for a short time. If parents are not vigilant a week can go by without the guitar ever being picked up. This results in little progress, achievement or satisfaction.

Get a Free Lesson

If you'd like to know more about what the Australian Guitar Institute can do for you or your children, call me to arrange a free session and interview.

You'll get a free 30min lesson and review of what you and your child can expect to achieve.

Whatever your child's ability, I’ll tailor a program just for them. Call me on:

What Guitar Should You Buy?

This is a question that most parents ask when their child is first starting out. More often than not, parents are concerned with getting value for money, particularly if the child has only recently taken an interest in the guitar. Thankfully, modern technology in guitar manufacturing has made it possible for most budget guitars to be of reasonable quality.

Besides budget, there are really only two things to consider:

1. Guitar size.
2. Guitar type.


Guitar size

Guitars are generally made to be either full size, ¾ size or ½ size.
For most kids above the age of 12, a full size guitar is probably the best option, particularly given their rate of growth at that age. The ¾ size guitars are more suited to 7-11 year olds, and ½ size for under 7.

However the best way to find the right guitar size for your child is to have them try a few out. Many kids start lessons on a full size guitar right away, regardless of their age.

Although this can be catered for as there are many ½ and ¾ size guitars available.

Essentially, the aim should be to buy a size that is going to help rather than hinder your child.


Guitar types

There are 3 main types of guitars: Nylon acoustic, Steel-string acoustic and Electric (steel strings)
For beginning children try either a nylon acoustic or electric guitar.

Nylon acoustic:

The advantages of buying a nylon guitar are that for young fingers, the strings are relatively soft compared to the steel strings found on electric and steel string acoustics. The tension of these strings tends to be fairly low (more slack) which also helps young fingers.

Probably the most common type of guitar used around the world, the nylon acoustic needs no amplification, which many parents see as an advantage in terms of household volume levels. A basic, reasonable nylon can be bought for around $100.

Electric guitar:

The electric guitar is cool, and kids know it. More than likely your child will ask you for an electric guitar straight away, which isn’t such a bad idea, and here’s why: Electric guitars usually have a slimmer neck, particularly in the first 3 frets, which makes it easier for kids to get their hands around. The tension on the strings tends to be pretty low, as is the action (the distance between the strings and fretboard). These qualities combined can really assist the rapid growth of a young guitarist.

An electric guitar needs an amplifier and guitar lead, and most music stores now offer guitar/amp/ lead/ strap/ pick packages for around $300 or under.

Again, if they have an iPod or an iPhone, then they can buy iRig for around $100 which contains all sorts of amp and effects settings to keep them happy. Best of all they can practice through headphones.

There are a few reasons not to buy an electric guitar: for some kids, the steel strings are simply too harsh on their fingers. These kids are better off starting on a nylon guitar. There’s also the cost involved with purchasing an electric guitar. Depending on your child’s dedication to learning the guitar, it may be better to buy them a nylon guitar first, and then let them prove that they’re ready for an electric guitar after a few months of practice and dedication.

Steel string acoustic guitar:

This is the least child friendly guitar to learn on. It’s a beautiful instrument, but the harshness of the steel strings on little fingers, combined with high string tension, tends to make playing painful rather than enjoyable.

Get a Free Lesson

Get a free 30min lesson and review of what you need to learn to achieve your musical goals.

Beginner or advanced, 6 or 60. I’ll tailor a program just for you. Call me on:

Australian Guitar Institute