Parents want the best education for their children. Learning to play a musical instrument is a great way to support a child during their education. The benefits to learning how to play a musical instrument cannot be overstated. Learning to play helps with confidence, mindfulness, discipline and creativity to name a few.
A question that often strikes up in conversation with new students is, “what is the best age my child can start learning to play the guitar?”
The truth is it depends on the child. Nevertheless, there are a number of good indicators that could be used to determine whether a child is ready to begin lessons. The most important question that needs to be asked is, who is the motivator to learn? Is it the child who wants to learn how to play the guitar or is it the parent? It is unhealthy to force music onto a beginner as it can lead to the child becoming unmotivated and eventually quitting the instrument. To avoid this, it is recommended to expose your child to music in a more social setting. Observing their responses to music classes, group singing and to listening to music with others are a good way to see if the motivation is there.
Secondly, it is important that a child is able to count. In the early stages of playing the guitar there is a lot of counting, this can be counting the frets, strings or rhythms. The ability to read is also encouraged as it helps the student to identify the names of the notes on the instrument and how to play them. Progress might not be too important to you now, but a lack of progress can become frustrating.
The final point is the size and choice of guitar. For primary school children the guitar is difficult for children to hold. A full-size guitar will certainly be too large. A ½ size classical guitar or ukulele would be my recommendation for the complete beginner. The nylon strings provide less discomfort as the strings are smoother and easier to press against the fretboard compared to an acoustic or electric guitar.
In my experience children at the age of seven have enough dexterity in their hands in order to hold the instrument, have the motivation and discipline to learn and the ability to competently count. The youngest beginner I teach is 6 years old and the youngest I will teach is 5.