Guitar For Kids
One question we frequently get is: "Is guitar for kids realistic?" Another variation of this is: "How young can I sign my child up for lessons?" This article only scratches the surface, but the basic answer is: Yes, young people can begin to learn guitar, even as young as three or four years of age.
The key to teaching guitar to the youngest of students is finding a teacher with the experience and patience to work with both the young student and their parents.
Of course the student must be mature for his (or her) age as music concepts can be difficult for the youngest students, and coordination is still developing. But if they are learning other skills at an age-appropriate level, they can also learn to play an instrument.
Unfortunately, we frequently sell youth short when we forget how capable they can be. The book "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris, captures a number of remarkable accomplishments by young people. For example: George Washington, the first elected president of the United States, was 16 when he became the official surveyor of Culpepper County, VA; and David Farragut, who became America's first Vice Admiral before his promotion to full Admiral in the U.S. Navy, commanded his first ship at age 12.
One approach to teaching the youngest how to play is the Suzuki method, created by Shinichi Suzuki. His work has grown into a wide range of programs for teaching a number of instruments. There is even a Suzuki Association in the USA to help parents locate teachers trained in the method.
According to Wayne Estes, co-owner of Wayne's World of Music, the Suzuki method approaches music the same way children learn language: immerse them in music, then support them to understand and build upon the concepts. Parental involvement is critical. Parents will attend lessons, provide encouragement, and act as teacher during the week. Many parents already know how to play guitar or some other instrument, but this is not required.
The Suzuki method is based on listening, learning with other children, encouragement, repetition, and a progressive introduction of concepts. For more on the details of the Suzuki method, visit their web-site.*
Still, each parent must determine when their child is ready to focus the attention necessary for structured lessons and practice time. When ready, an emerging lesson approach to consider for teaching guitar for kids is the Suzuki Guitar Method.
As for the type of guitar to use, talk to your instructor. You are likely to find they recommend a 1/4-size acoustic; no steel strings or electric guitars as the strings can feel sharp to small fingers.
Children naturally enjoy music. Just watch their response to night-time lullabies, or other fun songs. If you and your child enjoy music, their is no reason to test the guitar for kids waters.
* Note: I do not endorse, nor do I teach, the Suzuki method. I have only the input from instructors who find this a valuable method to use with the youngest of students.