Guitar Lessons for Kids
It can be a challenge for someone to begin learning guitar at any age. For children, it can be extra challenging. This is not to say a child can’t learn. In fact, it’s generally easier to teach children at a younger age. Their minds are more open; they haven’t developed any habits that need “re-learning;” they approach new ideas with enthusiasm; and they don’t have preconceived notions about music or playing.
Even better, studies have shown that children who are involved in music do better in school. They develop better concentration, coordination, self-confidence and patience, as well as better reading comprehension, and better spelling, math, listening, and motor skills. Encouraging your children to learn guitar, therefore, can be one of the best things you can do for them.
That having been said, there are certain issues and challenges facing the budding young guitarist. Let’s go over some of the challenges, and their solutions.
Children Learn Differently from Adults
If at all possible, try to find a teacher who specializes in training children. Children have different needs, speeds, and styles than adults – so finding a teacher specializing in children’s music training is a plus.
Children Generally Have Short Attention Spans
The most important thing to consider when training a child to do anything is that what they are learning needs to hold their attention. Lessons and practice time should be an enjoyable experience, not a chore. If a child does not enjoy what they are learning, their progress will be hampered. Start with music that is familiar and enjoyable to them. Children have a shorter attention span than grownups, so lessons should only run about 20-30 minutes per session.
Children Need Positive Reinforcement
It’s also crucial to be patient and encouraging. Don’t push the child too hard; it’s important to let them learn at their own pace. When correcting a mistake, it is important not to criticize them too harshly. Use the “sandwich” method. Tell them what they’re doing right, point out where they can improve, and then offer a final word of encouragement. Stay patient. When a child is doing exceptionally well, or has achieved a certain level or goal, let them know it. It’s amazing what just a little bit of encouragement can do.
Most Children will Need Special Instruments
Of course, another important aspect is the child’s size. Most children simply aren’t big enough to play a full-sized instrument. Fortunately, due to the expanding market for children’s musical instruments, you can now choose from a wide variety of children’s guitars. Like full-sized guitars, they vary in quality, build and price. You can get a very high-quality guitar at a reasonable price. It is not a good idea to buy cheap guitars. They don’t sound too good, don’t last very long, and don’t keep their tone as readily as a good quality instrument. If the guitar stops working, the child is likely to stop playing. A good rule of thumb is to stick to a brand name that you know and trust.
Another thing to ask: Electric or acoustic? Electrics tend to have lighter strings and are easier to play. (With smaller hands, this can be an issue.) They also require an amplifier and so tend to be more expensive. Acoustics are versatile and portable, and children’s models can be just as well-made as their full-size counterparts. Most children’s guitars come as a complete package with strings, picks, instruction videos and/or books, and a carrying case. Many also include tuners. If it’s an electric guitar, it will also often include a small practice amp. The final decision should be based on what style of music the child wants to play. Start with that, and then visit your local music store to see what is available. A good music store will have several models to choose from, and may even offer rentals. Your music store clerk will work with you to find the guitar that will start your child on a lifelong journey of music and fun.
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