Another question I get all the time is: What is a good age to start guitar? This is usually being asked by parents whose youngsters seemed to show some interested in music in general and/or the guitar in particular. Unfortunately, as with many other guitar questions, there is no universal answer to when – or at what age – children should start with guitar lessons. Because not all five year old children are the same when it comes to their physical and cognitive capabilities. Therefore, please don’t take the following as hard and fast rules, but rather some general points of consideration as I try to elaborate on that topic on more detail. It will ultimately depend on your own good judgment and the, for the lack of a better term, ‘readiness’ of your child.
To get one other thing out of the way: the last thing I want is to come across as if I try to give you parenting advice. What you are about to read is my own personal opinion, based on the experience I gained when I gave face to face guitar lessons to children.
I personally don’t think it makes sense to push any child to start playing guitar, irrespectively of the age. Also, I’m afraid that the plethora of online videos featuring super young children playing guitar like Eddie Van Halen makes some parents have unrealistic expectations. However, if you feel your kid shows some legitimate interest and is able to physically handle a guitar, then as a general rule I feel that between 5 and 6 years is a reasonable ago to start on the instrument. Younger than that usually comes with too many challenges and is more often than not doomed to turn into a very short endeavor that could leave both, the kid as well as the parents more frustrated than anything else.
The guitar is a very physical instrument and even adults struggle in the beginning with finding the right position for their hands, arms, shoulders, back and legs to comfortably handle the instrument without turning into a contortionist. Now imagine a 3 year old child trying to do the same thing – to me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, even with a so called kid-sized guitar.
Of course, the physique is only one aspect to consider in determining whether your child is ready to learn guitar. Other important factors are attention span, discipline and motivation. Guitar lessons for young children should always be conducive to the respective age. But even the most fun guitar teacher with the most exciting and appropriate lessons is destined to fail if the kid (again, irrespective of the age) has issues staying focused. This, of course, is not just an issue confined to children but also applies to adults. But in general, it is harder to keep a kid at 5 years of age focused on a task compared to a 35 year old adult.