Teaching your child to play music is a great way to enrich your child’s life. Not only is music fun, but it helps to sculpt several fundamental attributes important to your child’s development. Learning to play guitar improves your child’s:
- fine motor skills, especially manual dexterity,
- logic and reasoning skills,
- critical listening, and
- ability to stay focused.
I think most parents would like to help their child improve all of these attributes and learning to play guitar is a perfect choice. But how do you know when to start giving your child guitar lessons? I wish there was an easy answer, such as a minimum age, that I could give you. The reality is that every child is different so there isn’t one universal answer. Instead, let’s look at the core skills needed to start learning to play guitar. Think of this as a beginner’s checklist.
- Can your child hold a guitar comfortably?
This is the most important item on the checklist. Your child should be able to sit with the guitar in his/her lap and easily reach the farthest part of the neck with his fretting hand. He/she should also be able to easily reach the strings with his picking hand. Keep in mind that there are half-sized and three-quarter sized guitars out there that may fit your child better. Ultimately, your child needs to be able to comfortably play and hold the guitar. If not, that’s okay. Your child just needs to grow a bit.
- Are your child’s hands large enough and strong enough to manipulate the strings?
If your child can press the top-most string against the fret and make a clean sound then he/she has hands suitable for playing the guitar. If your child has trouble getting a clean note to play while fretting the top-most string, he/she may not be ready to play guitar yet. Hand size and strength increases with age so don’t worry.
- Can your child focus well enough?
Learning to play an instrument is a thoughtful activity that takes patience and focus. If your child can watch his/her favorite half-hour TV program without being distracted than your child may be ready to learn to play guitar. Conversely, if your child switches between activities every five or ten minutes than he/she is probably a bit too young. Your child is just having fun being a kid. I’m jealous!
If you can answer yes to these questions then he/she is ready to play guitar. If not, that’s okay. Let him/her play with the guitar and encourage them use the guitar whenever he/she likes. When your child is older and ready to learn he/she will already be familiar with instrument.
I encourage all parents to incorporate music into their child’s daily routine. Whether it is passively listening or actively banging on a toy drum, music is both enriching and fun.
For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give, visit www.ewguitar.com.