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Children & Guitar Lessons

Children & Guitar Lessons

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drawing by Ian Eckert

Is my child ready for guitar lessons? This is the most common question from parents of young children (4-7 years). My honest answer is that it varies enormously from child to child. But you might consider the following questions to be a rough guide in making your decision:

  • Does my child interact well with other adults?
  • Can my child focus on a task for more than a few minutes at a time?
  • Does my child react well to new things?

If your child is less than eight, be aware that you or some other trusted adult will need to work with your child both during lessons and at home. Young children simply cant be expected to handle music lessons and home practice time on their own. An adult will need to sit in during lessons, quietly taking notes, and will also need to supervise your childs practice sessions at home.

Always remember that, for young children, the main goal is to have them enjoy the lessons and home sessions. Young children quickly lose interest in anything they dont enjoy. And bear in mind that young children usually dont know what goes into learning an instrument, so they may have unrealistic expectations. Also remember that children learn in their own way and time. What might look like goofing off to an adult is often just how children learn. So be patient.

For all children, bear in mind that how you approach guitar lessons will go a long way to making them a success. If your childs guitar lessons seem important to you, then theyll be important to your child. So you need to commit to regular lessons and regular home practice sessions. These home sessions neednt be long. In the beginning, about ten or fifteen minutes a day is just fine for most young children. The ideal attitude is to see lessons and home practice as a special time with your child, a chance to help your child grow in accomplishment and self-confidence. If you can bring an attitude of support and enthusiasm for the guitar, then your child is more likely to respond positively.

Children up to about the age of nine shouldnt use a full sized guitar. Children four years old probably should use a 1/4 sized guitar. For children of five to seven years of age, a 1/2 sized guitar is appropriate. Some children this age might even be able to handle a 3/4 sized guitar. For children aged nine or ten, consider a 7/8 sized guitar. Of course, these suggestions are approximations. (A good rule of thumb is that if you stand the guitar next to your child, the guitar head should be no more than about chest high.) Yamaha makes reasonably good child sized guitars. Expect to pay between $150 to $200 for a guitar and decent case.

A warning: Child sized guitars are often sold without a case. Why guitar manufacturers do this is a mystery. (Okay, its not a mystery. They dont see the guitar as a serious instrument, so why bother with the expense of a case?) Be sure to get a good case that properly fits the guitar. A good padded zippered soft case is okay, but avoid a thin vinyl gig bag.

One more warning: DONT BUY A FIRST ACT BRAND GUITAR. (Theyre sold at Wal-Mart and Target.) The strings rattle against the frets, the intonation is hopeless, and the construction is slapdash. It might seem like a good idea to buy an inexpensive guitar for a child, to see if he or she will stick with it before buying a better guitar. But First Act guitars are little better than toys, and will ruin any interest your child might have in playing the guitar.

By all means, feel free to contact me before buying a guitar. I often talk to parents before they begin their childs first lesson. In fact, when my schedule allows, Im happy to meet with parents of a new student to help them select a guitar. I dont consider it an imposition. Rather, its a way to ensure we all get off to a good start.

trent

Im a student of Mr. Poore and have many wonderful comments to share about him. He is a very nice person to be around and I always look forward to going to my next guitar lesson. Mr. Poore is always having recitals, which I also look forward to; recitals strengthen your playing ability. Also, he strives to make sure his students are enjoying guitar and also making sure that they are getting better at the same time. If you are interested in taking the classical guitar and truly getting skilled at music, I would highly recommend Mr. Poore.

Trent N. (age 12)

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