Guitar Lessons For Kids ... Are They Really For Kids?

Sunburst Guitar Pickups

Most lessons out there - including many of the ones known as guitar lessons for kids - are created for adult bodies and minds, which can be confusing, counter-productive and even painful for a child. When I was a kid and had just started to LEARN HOW TO PLAY, blisters on the tips of my fingers bleeding was something that happened often. That's where the calluses that get stronger with PRACTICE and are with me to this day were born, and they now prevent my fingers from getting damaged and forcing me to stop playing. In the end, nothing really bad happened to my fingers, but I think that if there was blood there -and there was-, it was because I overdid it ... It seemed like I didn't know what I was doing, there had to be A BETTER WAY.

Kids Learn Much More Faster Than Adults

It's my opinion as an enthusiast psychologist that the brain of a child, by its very nature, is optimized for any type of learning which could potentially mean that a child would be able to learn faster than an adult, whose brain functions are optimized, also in my opinion, for other tasks, such as further developing and using that which was learned during childhood. The Truth is ... It's indisputable that CHILDREN can learn FASTER.

The Issue is ... How do they achieve the FOCUS needed to understand the hand movements of a guitarist; TO LEARN to execute a vast collection of movements which require physical dexterity and high levels of concentration...

To comprehend the elements of music and the complex relationship that exists between The Musician, The Time and The Tempo of a song. How does one achieve this if the spontaneous nature of a child's behavior seems to go the opposite direction?

What's The Ideal Age To Start To Play?

It's difficult to know at which age to begin; it depends on the child and the situation. Even though there are smaller guitars that help with the process ... learning how to play the guitar requires expertise and strength in the hand and arm muscles; it also requires patience and the ability to focus in order to learn the basic concepts of an efficient hand technique. Once the basics are learned, you have to memorize the positions of the notes and chords on the fretboard and learn their names (basically bathing yourself in some theoretical knowledge). Then, you have to practice what you just learned in order to get ready for the next lesson... which can't take place if what came before it isn't in order. ONE MUST BE DISCIPLINED.

It would be ideal if this whole process was completely voluntary on the child's part that way, they'd have an unforgettable experience which they'll remember for the rest of their lives, and at the same time, they would have learned the necessary foundations to keep assimilating knowledge and new techniques starting from there. Pressuring the child in some way? I don't think so ... I don't think this would work and I don't think it'd be fair on the child. A child who is spontaneously interested in artistic or music themes can be a fantastic prospect and it's very recommended to have one or more INSTRUMENTS IN THE HOUSE, and of different types: string instruments, percussion instruments, wind instruments. That way, one of them might spark their curiosity. You have to allow them to explore, allow them to decide. If they choose the guitar (which is both a string and a percussion instrument), then great!

Good Music And Quality Time To Practice

I taught both of my kids how to play the guitar, and both learned extremely well. One of them focused her passion on singing and she can now do what she loves with a first-class guitar accompaniment, performed by herself. My other kid, although also a great singer, decided to focus mainly on the instrument and he has achieved control over some of the most complex techniques in existence. As the teacher, I'm witness of the fact that both cases only required a lot of QUALITY TIME TO PRACTICE. I gave them the information and tips, but they could have gotten them from somewhere else another teacher or a guitar method.

As parents, what we did from the beginning (between the ages of 5 and 10 years old), was to ALWAYS LISTEN TO GOOD MUSIC AT HOME and have some instruments lying around the house that the kids could use any time they wanted (even if they did it wrong or even if broke them), and that would not harm them regardless of what they did with the instruments ... So that they could use them even when we were not watching them. Supervision is important, of course, but it's not always necessary or what's best ... Or, to say it best, it's not always necessary that they realize it's happening.

Keep An Eye On What Your Kid Needs From You

It's really important for them to not feel like they're being observed, or evaluated, or judged. Now, they are very vulnerable because they feel clumsy and they don't want anybody to notice. All you can do is wait for one of those instruments to truly spark their interest and attention, and for the kid to feel the need to know a little bit more about the issue ... because their intuition has given them everything it could, and they'll have to learn what is next through some other means.

As a father, I think the most sensible thing would be to help them find the information they need to get ahead in whatever it is that they're doing ... and whatever interests them today. I have the great luck of being both a parent and a guitar player, and therefore can teach my children some of the things I learned and developed along the way (the rest they learned by themselves). But not all children have parents who are musicians, so it's recommended that the parents go out of their way to get their kids information about the process of learning music ... specially oriented toward kids. There are teachers who specialize in children and courses crafted with children in mind.

Do You Wanna Help?

Once your kid has a guitar teacher or is following a teaching method, the role of the parents should be to provide the material and emotional support necessary for the child to practice as it's the only way to advance. MUSIC TEACHERS AND GUITAR METHODS are based on the assumption that the children will be doing most of the work themselves, by themselves at home: they must do their homework! ... Not even the best teacher or the best method will provide good results if the child doesn't do what's required (his homework) ... and memorizes this or that chord, or learns to go from this to that chord, or hasn't practiced good posture, or hasn't learned how to tune the guitar with a tuner, and so on; all tasks that take up hours and hours of practice, and tasks that don't require the physical presence of the teacher.

What I mean is that from now on, all a father can do to help is make sure that the child is doing his/her homework. Of course, you have to have the ability to make it sound less hard and less boring than that! ... It has to be something different from regular schoolwork. They have to feel like they are doing it voluntarily, because they want to, and that within that corner of their lives, they are the ones in charge, and they only need to be given information ... and good information, at that!, because THEY CAN TAKE CARE OF THE REST, NO PROBLEM. They feel powerful and more self-confident ... And that is good for all walks of life, which is much more important, independently of learning how to play the guitar.

It will of course DEPEND ON THE TEACHER OR THE METHOD that the homework is not boring and is in line with their current abilities, and that (ideally), the homework is focused on the immediate interests of the child while at the same time being part of a medium-term plan. For the most part, kids can only really understand short-terms and short periods of time ... I believe it's a mathematical paradox which has to do with the relativity of time, or something of the sort. Long-term plans is something that we only understand once we're adults. You have to help the child to achieve various small, short-term goals and make sure these goals are part of a medium-term to long-term plan ... a plan for them to learn how to play like they want.

How To Recognize
A Guitar Lesson For Kids That Works

A good guitar lesson for kids to learn how to play the guitar, is one that adequately divides the tasks - into various, smaller, EASY TO DIGEST PARTS that can be assimilated one at a time ... Without the major goal being necessarily revealed in order to avoid saturating the attention span of the child with too much information coming at them all at once. If you set them a task that seems too difficult to achieve, they will prefer not to do it in order to avoid risking failure.

So! It's therefore clear that the information should be spread out into various, smaller chunks that can be assimilated as easily as possible ... and to make it look just like what it really is ... A GAME! They don't have to take it tooooooo seriously, so much so that it stops being fun. This will allow them to learn as children learn best: as if they were PLAYING! A good teacher or well-chosen guitar method will definitely make things easier and minimize the possibility of a child abandoning the idea because he or she feels like they don't get ahead because they don't understand anything, and they start feeling insecure and it's no longer fun ... When dealing with kids, it's especially important to know how to choose and clearly define the challenges that we'll set them, because we run the risk of losing their attention in an instant, and that's it! It's done, and they quit it ... And it's really not healthy for them to go through life giving up on things.

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