Appropriate age to start guitar?
October 1, 2014 at 5:59 pm #41734
Our school offers private lessons outside of the school day, taught by music faculty as well as outside musicians brought in to teach instruments we don’t specialize in.
We have a policy about the age students must be to start voice lessons (12). String players as young as 3 may start Suzuki style, and piano lessons may also begin at age 3, again using age appropriate materials. Band lessons are generally not endorsed before 4th grade, and although I don’t teach all of the band instruments, I’m generally consulted as the band director when someone wants to start a wind or percussion instrument that young. However, guitar lessons with the main guitar teacher (an outside musician) have been starting younger and younger over the last year, and some of the music faculty have become concerned, including the string teacher (who also teaches a few guitar lessons but only to students of what she feels is an appropriate age.) The main guitar teacher is extremely highly qualified as a performer and teacher of upper level students, so that is not part of the concern. We currently have no rule on “how young is too young” for guitar.
What age do you feel it is appropriate to start guitar lessons? If you teach very young children guitar (say, under age 7) would you use different materials (a la Suzuki?) What other specific guitar related questions should we be asking to ensure that very young students are receiving appropriate instruction?
Thanks!October 1, 2014 at 7:25 pm #41735
In the Clark County School District, we start beginning guitar in 6th grade, which is the first year in Middle School. Most students are 11 or 12 years of age. We teach guitar in classes. Many of our beginning guitar classes have as many as 30 -40 students in a single class. We also use full-size nylon string guitars. Most students in the 6th grade can handle the full-size guitars.
There has been a great deal of conversation of adding a guitar component in elementary school during the 4th & 5th grades. In that case, the guitars used would be 3/4 size and the skills would be limited to chord playing.
There is a complete Suzuki Series for guitar. Some of the best Suzuki studios in the country start students as early as 4 years old. However, these are private lessons, and much of the first year of lessons is devoted to sitting still on a stool for 30 seconds and holding a cutout of a guitar.
For private lessons with a skilled teacher, starting at age 6 or 7 has worked well for many young guitar students. For the classroom experience, age 12 seems more appropriate.November 11, 2014 at 8:01 pm #42724
Bills comments are spot on. If I were going to teach really young students I would consider using Ukelele.
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