What Age Should Kids Start Learning Guitar?
I teach many kids how to play guitar and parents often ask me “what is the right age for kids to start learning guitar? This is a great question and the answer is not just a simple age number. First of all, kids generally love music. Younger kids are often uninhibited and love to dance and move to the music – what a joy it is to get them involved with music from an early age. Further, you may have heard that many studies show that music participation and learning an instrument is great for brain development and superior academic performance.
Sometimes parents call me and want their 4 or 5 year old to start learning guitar. This is generally too young. Guitar is challenging to learn in the beginning and it takes finger/hand coordination, dexterity, finger strength as well as mental concentration, focus and perseverance to learn and play. Younger children rarely have these elements before age 7 although there are some exceptions. I generally tell parents that age 7 is a good age for most kids to start learning guitar. This is a good general guideline.
Another important topic related to kids learning to play guitar is the expectations that parents have. Parents often expect to hear their child practicing 30 minutes or more each day and hear them playing songs and making progress over the first few months of lessons. I’ve had many students in their elementary years and into middle school where the parents call me saying they are concerned that their child or teen is not practicing very much at home and they are questioning whether they should continue. Meanwhile, during my time with that very same child they are making good progress, learning and developing their guitar ability and are able to play music with peers. Most importantly, they are creatively expressing themselves and having fun. The reasons that parents don’t always recognize the progress are several. First, kids often don’t like playing in front of their parents and they avoid it giving the impression that they aren’t playing and aren’t interested. Second, as long as they are participating in a good music education program it may not be that important that they spend many hours practicing at home. And third, some kids may not be practicing, developing and advancing a lot but they are having a great time, bonding with the process of music and that is a very important thing that can lead to a lifetime relationship with music that will evolve and develop over the years to come. So, parents should, be patient, talk with their children’s music teacher and allow their kids time to discover their musical path and find their own way.
Andrew Bassuk teaches guitar at Harmony Music Center in Ventura, CA.