How to Start Your Kids Playing Guitar
At Bananas at Large®, our customers range from the youngest learners to people that have been playing music their entire lives. What every one of them has in common is that at some point, they made the decision to follow their passions and take up an instrument. And while it's never too late to do so, the earlier you get your kids exposed to music, the more likely they'll be to enjoy it for life.
Popular music has changed a lot since the dawn of rock and roll, but the guitar has endured. In fact, evidence suggests that the global popularity of guitars has only increased in recent years — fueled in part by broader cultural shifts that are opening the instrument to a wider range of demographics than ever before. In short, there's never been a better time than now to get into the guitar, no matter who or how old you are.
Keep reading to find out our tips and suggestions for starting your kids playing guitar — including how and when to teach them and what to look for in a beginner's instrument.
Benefits of Learning Guitar
Learning an instrument helps children develop motor skills and a sense of rhythm and harmony. Children will learn to express their creativity while also gaining discipline and patience. Best of all, learning music is its own reward — the satisfaction a child gets after mastering a new chord or song is invaluable for instilling confidence. There's also a social benefit to learning an instrument — as your child grows up and makes new groups of friends, they'll have an instant connection to other creative kids.
The guitar is a natural entry point to further musical study. It's highly accessible and has a somewhat less steep learning curve than, for example, the violin or a reed instrument. As a result, your child will enjoy the above benefits faster and will be more likely to stick with their instrument for longer.
When to Start
We've covered the question of when to start guitar lessons in another post, but a few key points are worth repeating:
- Children under seven may not have the hand and arm strength to play full-size acoustic guitars yet. Starting with a ukulele or nylon-string instrument may be a better choice for the youngest learners.
- Like any instrument, learning guitar takes practice. If your child can't sit still for a 20-minute lesson or gets easily frustrated, they may be too young to start on guitar.
- The basics of music theory apply to all instruments — there's no harm in starting on one instrument and switching to another later.
Options for Learning
The easiest way to start a child learning guitar is to expose them to the instrument. If you or someone you know plays, start having some informal living room jam sessions. Get a few small percussion instruments to play along with — once your kid is involved in the music-making process, they'll be naturally curious and want to learn more.
As for lessons, there are a few options. Private, one-on-one lessons are a great way to learn, as the teacher will have more flexibility to adapt their lesson plan to your child's interests. However, group lessons offer a social element that can make learning more fun.
Ultimately, you know what type of environment your child will respond to best. If you're in the Bay Area and would like to learn more about guitar classes at Bananas, visit our Lessons page for contact information.
Choosing a First Instrument — What to Look For
Choosing a child's first guitar is a delicate balance — on the one hand, you want something that won't break the bank. On the other, a better-quality instrument will last longer and will likely be more fun to play. Fortunately, the quality of entry-level instruments is higher than ever before. A well-made 3/4 length guitar is an excellent beginner option — the smaller size is better suited to growing hands while still offering the feel and functionality of a full-size instrument.
Some great choices include the Yamaha JR series, which is modeled after the company's famous FG acoustic guitar line. The APXT2 is the next step up and includes a convenient built-in tuner and tone-shaping preamp. Finally, if you prefer a classical guitar over steel string, you'll be happy to know that the Yamaha CGS is one of the most popular and best-regarded options on the market today.
Trying out different models can be a fun project for you and your child when you visit either of Bananas's two Bay Area locations. Stop by and let our friendly sales staff help!