Here are my top 5 thoughts on children's guitar lessons and kids' music lessons in general.
1. When should someone start learning?
I started learning guitar when I was 13, completely off my
own bat. My Mum and Dad never forced it on me and
never seemed too bothered about me playing. They seemed
to see it as something that I enjoyed it and let
me get on with it. My parents paid for my lessons and my
equipment but largely stayed out of it.
So my journey on guitar has been mostly my own, and I
take a lot of pride in how far I've gone because I did it
mostly on my own initiative.
My wife on the other hand started learning when she
was eight, and after her first lesson her Mum bought a piano
for her to practice on. Her first teacher was uninspiring (but the
lessons were cheap!). She went to him for years, never
getting any better, until she finally started seeing a new
teacher who she still speaks of very fondly 25 years later.
Her new teacher took an interest in her as a student and
she improved rapidly under her tutelage.
My point her is no matter what age someone starts, whether
that is 6 or 66, the key thing is the student needs inspiration.
That inspiration may come from the student's own interest in
something (as was the case with me), or the inspiration from a good teacher (as in the case of my wife). Mostly it is a combination of both.
2. What type of guitar should I get for my child?
Fortunately there are purpose built guitars for kids. Another plus is they tend to be on the cheaper side.
These are the general guidelines:
1/4 size guitar - for kids up to 5
1/2 size guitar - for kids 5-8
3/4 size - for kids 8-12
3. How much should my child practice?
I have learnt after many years that it is quality of quantity when it comes to practice. Fifteen minutes a day of quality focussed practice where your child has no distractions and works on improving the parts of their playing that they need most work on is recommended (by me at least!).
This is far better than practicing for an hour in front of the television, whilst just playing the bits that they can already play.
Of course there needs to be time for playing just for the fun of it, but it shouldn't be the only type of practice.
4. Should my child do grades?
This is a tricky question. Grades do teach music theory and discipline, which is obviously good, but for many students can make playing the instrument a bit of a chore.
I really think that it is important for kids to start working on songs that they like and then go down the grades route if their passion develops. If I had been forced to play 20 years ago, I don't think I would be playing and teaching today. But everyone is different of course!
5. How long should a lesson be?
For childrens' lessons, half an hour is best as if the lessons are too long their concentration starts to wander.
Me and my first ever guitar. Lot of "how not to"'s going on in this photo. Folder of guitar chords resting in lap.. classic!