There is no right age to start learning to play the guitar. Even though it’s usually recommended that a child should be at least 6 before they could start to learn to play, there are kids who have started taking lessons before turning 6 and have been quite successful at that. However, such cases are pretty rare. Most kids under 6 would give their teachers a very hard time.
If you’d like to know why the age of your child matters when wanting to learn playing the guitar, how could you give your kid the best possible start, how to look for the right teacher, etc., keep reading.
More specific reading – can a 4 year old learn guitar?
See How Your Kid Draws
A solid way to ascertain when can a child learn to play guitar is by looking at how they draw or are learning to draw. “Drawing”, in this context, doesn’t mean random scribbles – which most toddlers are capable of. At the same time, the drawing need not be exceptional or artist-like. It needs to be somewhere just under the middle of scribbling and discernible sketches. Kids that are six-year-old or more can usually draw without any issues, even if they have never held a crayon before.
As a kid grows, they become capable of controlling their fine motor abilities. As those skills of a child develop, they become much more capable of controlling drawing tools and coming up with better outputs. Similar is the case with learning to play the guitar. If you try teaching a toddler how to play the guitar, what you would receive in return would be more like those random crayon scribbles. This is because the kid has not developed their fine motor skills yet.
Hand Size Matters
The size of the hand has a role to play too. Since a kid’s paws are highly likely to be smaller than a fully grown adult, you can imagine how difficult it could be for the kid to reach the neck of a guitar and stretch into the chords. In fact, even adults at times complain about the difficulty that there is to playing guitar chords. Young kids, therefore, have pretty much no chance.
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Even though there are small-size guitars for kids, these guitars only have a smaller footprint overall. In other words, their sound holes or the bridge/saddle may not be mini enough and could still pose a challenge to the tiny, soft hands of your kid.
Guitar Teachers and Kids
While there are guitar teachers offering toddlers guitar lessons, the question is do these lessons truly have a positive influence on the kid’s learning progression. In other words, does the kid get a head-start when it comes to playing guitar? The answer is not really.
*Read more – Where to take guitar lessons.
The minimum age kids should be to start learning guitar varies with the teacher and also the expectations of the child’s parents. The younger the kid, the more difficulties the teacher would have to overcome.
Teaching a four-year-old is unlike teaching a six-year-old. The differences there exists between the two in relation to their fine motor skills and brain development are major. Those additional two years provide kids a lot more control over a music instrument, particularly the guitar. This additional control leads to increased progress during lessons and it also means less frustration.
Even if the guitar instructor teaching a six-year-old is average-quality, the results would still be fairly decent. The kid would be able to pick up certain things during the learning and will have some level of self-motivation to learn and practice. With a four-year-old kid, however, the average-quality instructor would likely fail since the kid would be heavily relying on the skills and knowledge of the teacher.
For kids that are three or even four years or younger, there is no doubt guitar lessons do not have any impact on their future development. A kid that learns to play the guitar at age three would not have an upper hand over a kid that starts to learn at age 6 or later. Similar to kids learning to draw at a very young age, early guitar lessons have pretty much no impact on future learning.
If you are planning to give your young kid guitar lessons, you must acknowledge the fact that most guitar teachers do not possess the necessary knowledge and skills needed to offer quality lessons. They usually overestimate their teaching skills. Therefore, even if you come across a guitar teacher who claims to be good with young kids, keep your expectations low.
Exposing Young Kids to Music
Instead of making your kid sit through guitar lessons, there are other things you could do to increase your child’s exposure to music and help develop their musical curiosity in general. You could, for instance, get your young kid started with a toy guitar. This would help the child get accustomed to the idea or the shape and form of a guitar so that the transition to the real thing becomes easier when your kid is old enough. You can also expose your kid to music in general.
There are prodigy kids with amazing guitar skills. However, you should know that for every such kid, there are several hundred other kids who have tried and failed. Kindly note, there was nothing wrong with these kids. It was just that they were pushed into learning the guitar a bit too early. This could even have a negative impact on the kid and impede their learning when they become old enough to learn guitar.