I don’t have the ultimate guide or answer to this question. The truth of the matter is; younger guitar students are more likely to give up after a few lessons than the ones who are a little more mature. At least that’s consistent with my experience as a guitar teacher. And of course, this shouldn’t be perceived as a generalization as there are always exceptions, but rather an observation I made over the years. To get kids playing guitar is usually not really an issue, but to keep them to stick with it is more often than not a challenge.
In the following I will try to cover a number of important aspects you should take into consideration as you try to get your youngster interested in learning how to play the instrument. Keep in mind, what you are about to read is just my personal opinion. That doesn’t mean that they’re not any alternative ways to go about the situation. When it comes to learning the guitar – or an instrument in general – there are usually more than just one written-in-stone approaches. However, as mentioned above, I think I gather a good amount of experience over the past couple of decades teaching kids and adults of all age groups.
Kids Guitars: What is the best guitar for them to get started?
Hands down, in my view there can only be one answer: a light classical guitar with nylon strings. There is a reason why I am so vocal on this particular point. First of all, the body of a classical guitar is smaller than the ones of other acoustic guitars (such as Western guitars, for instance). This allows kids playing guitar to handle their instrument without bending over backwards. Also, it gives them a chance to actually see the strings and what they are doing with their fingers. If the guitar is too big and too bulky, it will ultimately lead to frustration and the young prodigy is more likely to give up. Practicing guitar is hard enough in the beginning, so we need to make sure that the dimensions of the instrument is appropriate for the physique of the child; depending on his age/built. Also, a classical guitar is lighter than a Folk, Western or Electric Guitar which is another self-explanatory benefit.
Kids Acoustic Guitar Models: Which one should I buy?
This is another rather difficult question for which I can’t give you a definite answer. Because ultimately it depends on the individual student. There are so called “3/4 Scale” or “1/2 sized” kids acoustic guitar models available and those are certainly appropriate for very small kids. I listed a couple of models below that you may want to have a closer look at. Again, keep in mind that these guitars are really designed for very young kids. In general, I am not a huge fan of those “made for kids guitars” and I would encourage you to get a regular sized classical guitar model if possible (I will talk about a few alternatives later). The problem with these extra small kid guitars is that they are essentially ‘better toys’. They usually have some limitations and sometimes they also lack in quality, which is not surprising considering the price-range. Now keep in mind: an ‘instrument’ like that in the hands of a young kid is just more likely to get damaged. So you need to be careful and make sure that you go with a renowned brand to ensure that you get a least a decent level of quality. I want to be clear: I have no personal experience with the two kid acoustic guitar models below. However, based on my experience I can certainly attest to the fact that Hohner and Yamaha make very good instruments. My strong preference would be the Yamaha CGS103A, though, simply because it is a ‘real instrument’ and comes very close to a regular classical guitar.
Kids Electric Guitar Models: A viable alternative?
No, it’s not. I’m sorry to be rather blunt here, but let me explain and qualify my statement a little bit. Most of these electric guitars for kids are toys. They are not made to actually help to seriously learn how to play the instrument. So you will have to make a decision here as to whether you just want to get your kid something to play around with, or an actual and playable guitar. So, now let’s say there are actually a few kids’ electric guitars that would quality to be called an ‘instrument’. I would still advise you to rather start out with a classical guitar, because that’s my general recommendation for everybody. Electric guitars and western guitars come with steel strings (vs. nylon strings). Those types of strings are tough on your fingers. Yes, even nylon strings are going to hurt you when you start playing guitar, but they will hurt you less. That’s just what it is. I am well aware that other guitar teachers and players will not agree with me on that point, but that’s just my opinion – again, based on my experience in teaching many young and older students.
Now, there might be exceptions and I guess it all depends again on what you and I actually consider to be a ‘kid’. If your son or daughter is fifteen or sixteen years old and has his/her heart set on becoming a rock start, well you and I will have a hard time in convincing him/her of starting out with a classical guitar. Mostly because they think they have to play ‘classical music’ – which, of course, is absolutely not the case. But I get it, a kid at that age might just be much more attracted to play get an electric guitar right from the start. However, since we are talking about a slightly advanced age group here, forget about buying a so called ‘kids electric guitar’ and get a real electric guitar. Click here and fid more information around a couple of decent instruments I can recommend if your child is determined to play electric guitar.
Kids Guitar Lessons: Hiring a teacher or learning to play guitar online?
Even though I personally decided to exclusively offer online guitar lessons, I am the first one to admit that the best way to learn the instrument is by taking one-on-one face-to-face lessons with a qualified guitar teacher. I guess for very obvious reasons. And there is no way that even the best Online Beginners Guitar Course can come even close to that – that is, if you find the right teacher, of course. Because in a live session, a teacher can correct you right on the spot if necessary and help you to work on the things you are struggling with. That’s why taking guitar lessons can get very expensive. One alternative could be taking groups sessions. I am not a huge fan of those, though. In my opinion, they are usually highly infective. Because there is no way that all the students will always be at the same level. So naturally, you will have individuals who will hold up the progress of the whole class as they require more of the guitar teacher’s attention. Ergo, other students will not get the support they need. Also, from the perspective of a guitar teacher, I find group guitar lessons to be the most difficult ones – however, other teachers may disagree with me (again!).
That leaves us with option #3, online kids guitar lessons. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to this model. Obviously, it is very convenient, because the student can learn to play in the comfort of his home. Also, he can do it at his own pace and make his own practicing schedule. Which, on the other hand, can turn into a problem; because there is no teacher around to scrutinize over the practicing, homework and progress. Yet, another advantage is the relatively low cost. For instance, my Beginners Guitar Course is priced at $69 for the entire course. This is what you pay for a lesson or two depending on where you live. My course is different from the ones I have found online, as I offer to all of my students to CONTACT ME ANY TIME and you will get a prompt answer. And that is super important. All students learn at a different pace and they all sooner or later will run into some challenges where they need competent and individual help from a qualified teacher. That’s exactly what you get as part of the course. You contact me, and you will get an email, personalized video response or we get together on the phone/Skype. Nobody is being left behind. So why you get full access to the 29 video lessons, the worksheets, the Chordbank Videos, etc. you will also get full access to a ‘real person’.
Kids Guitar Chords: There is no such thing!
If anybody wants to sell you a product or course that advertises ‘kids guitar chords’, I would be very cautious. Because there really is no such thing. There are some chords that are easier than others, whether or not you’re a kid, doesn’t really matter – they are just as easy or difficult for all beginners irrespectively of the age. I wrote an article around Beginners Guitar Chords with more details around this subject.
As far as Kids Guitar Songs are concerned, there are actually a couple of pretty cool songbooks that I can recommend (see below).
Alright, so let’s sum-up the situation. Here is in essence what I would recommend you to consider when you think about how to get your kids playing the guitar:
1. Make sure you know what you want. Do you want to the youngster to seriously learn the instrument or just to tinker around a little bit.
2. If the latter is the case, you can just buy one of those inexpensive kids guitar models and you’re fine.
3. If you want them to really learn how to play, you have two options. If you can, borrow a guitar from somebody you know. That way you don’t have to make an investment at this point until you know if there is a serious long term commitment. Alternatively, buy an inexpensive classical guitar. You can go for a smaller size or just a regular size, as long as it is a classical guitar with nylon strings.
4. One-on-one lessons are the most effective, yet most expensive alternative. It depends on your budget, logistics and schedule. You may find online courses to be the right alternative for you. Also, it might actually be a good idea to pay the small one-time fee for an online guitar program and see how your kid deals with the situation. If he shows serious interest, you can always look into live lessons. I would like to once again put my Beginners Guitar Course on your radar – please contact me any time with any questions. Also, I might have a promotional code available which would bring down the already small fee of $69 to an even lower number.
Alright, I hope you will find this information helpful. Again, please feel free to contact me with any questions.