Parents of young children often ask me if their child is ready to begin taking guitar lessons. The answer to this question is largely dependent on the child - some kids will be ready to begin guitar lessons at age seven while others might not be ready until they are ten or even older. Here are a few considerations you'll want to keep in mind before signing up your kid for guitar lessons:
Playing Guitar Requires Dexterity
The biggest physical hurdle young kids generally need to overcome when learning guitar is their lack of fine motor skills and hand strength. Switching chords on guitar needs nimble fingers, and many kids don't develop the required level of dexterity until they are eight or nine. Of less importance is overall hand size - there are many 1/2 size guitars available that should feel comfortable for even the smallest hands.
Improving on Guitar Requires Patience and Practice
If your child is enrolled in guitar lessons, they'll invariably be provided with "homework" - chords, scales and songs to memorize and practice. If not worked on routinely, kids will fall behind, and frustrate both their guitar teacher and themselves.
Forcing Young Kids to Learn Guitar Doesn't Produce Results
When I was eight years old, my parents signed me up for guitar lessons. After a couple lessons, I lost interest in learning guitar - it was too hard, the guitar was too big, and I wasn't learning any songs I liked. But my parents, having just shelled out lots of money for a new guitar, understandably forced me to keep my lessons up for another year. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, I quit guitar lessons and stopped playing for five years. Luckily, I rediscovered guitar in high school, but many kids aren't quite so lucky. Developing a negative impression of guitar lessons early in life can sour kids on playing music in general.