What Age Should A Child Start Guitar Lessons?

I often get asked this question by parents wanting to know if their child is old enough to start guitar lessons or just when to buy them a guitar. My general answer is from about eight years old.

At the ages of eight or nine, most children can happily manage structured lessons and tuition. Additionally, they usually have sufficient commitment and maturity to be able to practice by themselves with only a little supervision from parents.

Teaching children younger than eight requires a significantly different approach. Lessons are delivered in a ‘structured play’ context and are generally shorter in length. Also, if a child is to truly benefit from these lessons then a greater degree of commitment from parents is required. Practice at home will generally need to be fully supervised. I do teach most children in the 7-8 age range following an initial assessment, but parents should be aware of their need to commit to supervision of practice times.

In the meantime …

If you decide to wait until your child is older before starting guitar there are still some things you can do to help them develop their sense of musicality. Instruments like recorder, ‘penny whistles’  or small cheap keyboards are great for younger children. Percussion instruments like shakers or bells are also good. All these will stimulate your child’s curiosity and creativity for music and pay dividends later when formal tuition starts.

One other point to bear in mind. The main differences between guitar and other instruments like keyboard or recorder is that there is a measure of physical strength needed to hold down the strings. A keyboard for example needs very little by way of strength to press the keys down so there is this physical aspect to consider which is why lessons for guitar tend to start a little later than for other instruments.

What size of guitar for a child?

Size is an important factor to consider when buying a guitar for a child. Besides full size guitars, there are also half size and three-quarter size guitars. What size you will need depends on the age and height of the child. For children up to the age of seven a guitar with nylon strings is usually better as these are easier to press down. From ages eight on, most children should be able to cope with a guitar with steel strings.

The following table is a rough guide to help you pick the right size of guitar for your child. However, the best way is to let the child try different sizes at a music shop. Most music shops should be able to help you choose the right size.

Age Size Of Guitar Needed
 4 – 6 Half Size
 7 – 9 Three Quarter Size
 10 – 11 Three Quarter Size or Full Size
 11 – 12 Full Size

 

This information as given as general guidance only. Please remember every child is unique and will develop at his or her own pace.

Article – Copyright (c) 2010 Armagh Guitar Tuition

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