Learning to play a musical instrument isn’t that easy, even for an adult. It takes a lot of practice to master one properly. The advantage of starting early lies in what most grown-ups lack: time. Children also have an amazing capacity for learning. As a result, they’re able to assimilate many things quickly, especially music lessons. If you want to teach your little one the guitar, however, there are a few rules to follow, including how to teach it, the ideal age for learning and much more. We explain everything you need to do in this article, and the effects it has on your little one’s personal development.
When should you teach your child to play the guitar?
Contrary to what many people think, learning to play the guitar requires two essential qualities, including a minimum of strength, as well as maturity. But why? Simply because you need power in your forearm, handles and fingers to play. The complexity of the notes requires a minimum of discernment and, above all, coordination. The concept of “very early” is therefore relative.
Unlike the piano, another well-known and much-loved instrument, the guitar cannot be learned from the age of two. The tension in the strings creates a palpable resistance that, let’s face it, hurts the fingertips. In addition to the strength required to press down on those metal (or nylon) strings, it also takes stamina to endure the pain until you’re used to it.
As for maturity, this depends above all on the child‘s concentration. By the age of two or three, your little one will be thinking mainly about having fun, unless you’ve given him military training from his very first steps. So, at what age should you teach your child to play the guitar?
At the very least, you should wait until your little one is 5 years old. At this age, you’ll be able to help him concentrate easily, and he’ll have enough strength and stamina to press on the guitar strings. Other parents prefer to wait until 6 or 7.
Of course, you’ll need to know how to introduce children to music if you want them to embrace this world wholeheartedly.
How do you teach your child to play guitar?
If you want to encourage your little one to play an instrument, there are a few essential steps to take.
Introducing your child to music
This is the first step in encouraging your child to learn to play an instrument. In the case of the guitar, you need to arouse his or her curiosity. For example, make music with any object you have at hand. If he gets a kick out of hearing and creating noise, you can begin to gradually redirect him towards the guitar. In this sense, games are a great way to engage your little one’s interest. Before he’s old enough, it’s a good idea to give your little one a guitar-shaped toy, as this will motivate him even more when he gets his first real guitar.
Lessons at a music school
Boost your child’s desire to play guitar by giving him lessons. Going to a music school is good for your child. Not only will they have the opportunity to learn, but they’ll also have friends to play and grow with. Although children’s competitive spirit shouldn’t be overdeveloped, having rivals can encourage them to excel. Of course, you’re not going to sign him up for an intermediate-level course unless you’ve already taught him the basics. Instead, opt for lessons dedicated to beginners. Learn the notes one by one, then continue with the chords and so on. The important thing is to progress step by step.
It’s important to focus on the result and not on the instructor’s way of doing things, unless you think this might discourage your child.
Fulfilling your role as a parent
For parents who play the guitar, you can play music regularly in the presence of your children. Remember that children like to copy older children, which is why your sessions together are so important. If your little one quickly becomes interested in the instrument, give him or her a few basics to get started. Teach him the notes of each open string, for example. You can also have him listen to music regularly to develop his listening skills.
If you’re not a musician, the best thing to do is to follow your child’s progress, for example, by asking him to show you what he’s learned. The best technique for a shy child is to ask him to teach you. This will motivate him and boost his self-confidence at the same time.
Frequency of lessons
Too frequent guitar lessons can discourage your child. To determine the ideal frequency, it’s best to listen and observe your child. If your little one seems to be in a bad mood every time he returns from his lessons, it’s best to reduce the number of sessions. Otherwise, he may ask for more than one lesson a week.
Of course, he needs to practice regularly at home to keep his hand in, especially if he only goes to music school twice a month. If possible, have him practice about 20 minutes a day. You can divide this into several sections throughout the day: 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening, for example.
How to keep him going
For many people, being obliged to do something encourages them to give up at any moment. If you don’t want your child to lose interest in learning the guitar, you can’t let him take lessons just because you want him to. It shouldn’t be a chore, it should be fun.
If the desire to learn comes from him, he won’t give up easily. So it’s vital that children see learning as a game, or even better, as a passion. Our article “Find out why play is the best way to teach children” tells you why.
How to choose a guitar for your child?
Certain brands of children’s guitar may seem more attractive than others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all guitars are suitable for your little one. The instrument your young talent uses has a major influence on his or her ability to develop. So it’s important to know how to choose the right guitar.
There are many types of guitar available on the market. By all accounts, acoustic and classical guitars are ideal for beginners. However, the keys, strings and most of the components on these two types are similar to those on an electric, archtop or flamenco guitar. As a result, the type of guitar you choose will depend on the kind of music you want to learn. The difference lies mainly in the style of construction, the sound and the strings.
Depending on the manufacturer and your child‘s level, the size of the neck varies. Some are wider, others smaller. To choose the right guitar for your child, adapt the neck to the length of his or her fingers. Take your child with you to buy the guitar, to motivate him even more, and let him try out several models before choosing.
Depending on the kind of music your child is learning, the type of string will vary. Points to consider when making your selection are:
- The core is made of steel, nickel or nylon. Its shape can be hexagonal or circular, depending on the type.
- The thread, also known as the “Trait”. This is the secondary wire that makes up the three bass strings.
- Sheathing is rarely available, as it protects the strings from moisture. It prevents the strings from rusting.
If you’re not a connoisseur, simply opt for the soft strings, as your child’s fingers will hurt much less. A classical model has plastic strings, while acoustic andelectric guitars have metal ones. In general, beginners choose the classical guitar because the strings are softer and hurt their fingers less. Of course, this is not necessarily the case.
Budget also counts
Not all guitars have the same price tag. For your child’s first guitar, you don’t have to spend a colossal sum, because yes, some brands are quite spicy. But remember, it’s the quality of the sound and the smoothness of the strings that count for a beginner.
Is it necessary to choose an amplified guitar?
Beginners don’t really need a guitar with a preamp. In fact, as long as theinstrument sounds good, it’s not necessarily necessary. Of course, if you choose to give him an electric guitar, you’ll need to get the amp that goes with it, because the sound at no load is quite low. With the “clean” function, this model can sound exactly like an acoustic guitar.
The benefits of music for your child
Music is a common language and offers serenity to all, even the little ones. For children, it has a major influence on their personal development.
A sharper language
When children go to school, they socialize and learn a wide range of vocabulary. When they go to music school, they learn a completely different language. Musical terms, for example, enrich their vocabulary.
If there’s one thing that music particularly develops, it’s the senses. Your child will need to use his or her eyes to press the right strings, his or her ears to recognize the notes and understand the music, and his or her touch while handling the guitar.
A more docile mood
As I’m sure you’ve heard many times, music calms the nerves. It works on children too. If yours was a bit boisterous before, you’ll soon notice the change in his behavior, even if he’s still a beginner.
Music will also help reduce his anxiety. He’ll be able to release all the stress he’s accumulated at school by playing the guitar.
A developed intelligence quotient
Learning to play the guitar not only requires a good sense of observation, but also of analysis. This enables your child to develop his or her cognitive abilities, which will undoubtedly boost his or her IQ.
A desire to improve
In every lesson he learns, even at beginner level, your child is constantly working on his desire to excel. This will push him to put more effort into everything he does.
Music reflects a musician’s inner feelings. You can better understand your child and his feelings by listening to the kind of music he likes to play on his guitar. It also makes it easier for you to communicate.
Our article Children’s personal development: What you need to know will help you better understand the other effects of music on your little one.
Teaching children to play the guitar: our conclusion
There are many different ways to teach your child to play the guitar. Unless you’re an expert, it’s best to send your child to lessons. Of course, you should always remember that your child is still a child. The type oflearning and the type of guitar to be used should therefore be adapted to his condition. What’s more, you shouldn’t launch your child into the study of music too early – in this case, not before he’s 5.
Avoid forcing your child to learn this instrument. Ask him first if he really wants to take up the instrument. If not, the lessons you pay for will be a waste of time and money. Be patient and attentive to your little one’s needs. Congratulate him on his efforts and achievements. Always encourage him to do better, and support him in his daily learning.
If you have any other tips for parents reading this, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.