FAQ: At What Age Can Kids Begin Learning Guitar?

At what age should a kid begin learning guitar?

It’s an age-old question from parents who want to introduce their children to the beautiful world of 6-string guitars: what age can kids begin learning guitar? Or restated, is there such thing as being “too young” for learning guitar?

At the surface this is really a simple question to answer: there is no such thing as “too young” as long as the kid is personally motivated to learn. But if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that the answer is a little bit more complicated than that.

My Childhood Learning Guitar

I remember the first time I picked up a guitar – or rather the first time I sat in my dad’s lap and strummed his guitar while he fingered chords. Looking back now I know that he isn’t a very good guitar player but as a young kid I thought he was the best.

I also knew that if my dad played the guitar, I wanted to as well. I was 5 years old at the time.

My parents played along with my childhood fancies and bought a child-size guitar for me to mess around on. It didn’t take long for them to realize, however, that this wasn’t a fad for me. I was genuinely interested in learning the guitar. At this point a friend of ours donated a beginner full-sized guitar for me to learn on.

I played my guitar almost every day and within a couple years had already surpassed my dad’s ability to teach me. My parents graciously allowed me to take guitar lessons – classical guitar lessons to start – and I progressed from there. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tips for Teaching Kids

I share that story of my personal experience because I feel like it highlights a few important things about kids learning the guitar:

Small victories motivate kids.  If you really want your child to learn the guitar, invest in a child-sized guitar.  Or you can invest in a longer-lasting, quality travel guitar. You can get one for under $100.  It will be so much easier for them to successfully create a good-sounding chord. The sooner they experience that first “victory”, the quicker they will get hooked on learning.

  • Don’t Push Them.  This generation of parents is super-sensitive about letting their child explore what they like instead of forcing them to learn something they don’t like. Pushing the guitar on a child, often in the form of guitar lessons, can easily backfire. I didn’t have my first guitar lesson until years after I first began playing the guitar. One option? Allow them to do online guitar lessons. It’s cheaper, can be done from home and is self-paced. (here is a review of a good online guitar lesson site)
  • Lead by Example.  The quickest way to get a child to learn the guitar is to show them how much fun it is to play! If you play the guitar yourself, play it in front of them. Let them strum. Let them sit in your lap and feel the beautiful vibrations of the wood. They don’t care if you haven’t played for years and your chords don’t sound perfect. They’ll be happy to listen to you play anyway.

Conclusion

So to answer the question, don’t hold back your child from learning guitar because you think they might be too young.  At the same time, don’t force the guitar on them just because you want them to learn early. It’s a hard line to walk, I know.

I’ve seen kids start learning guitar at age 5. I’ve seen others start at 12 and learn at an incredible pace. Neither is better than the other in my opinion.

—————————————————–

*Image courtesy of GuitarTipsforKids

26 Responses to FAQ: At What Age Can Kids Begin Learning Guitar?

  1. Patty says:

    I have a question. I have limited music knowledge and nothing with a guitar. My 5 yr old grandson has started to show interest in playing the guitar at church. Those playing are self taught and just basics . What would be the best way to introduce him to playing and it be correct. We don’t have anyone close to him to let him try and it be going in the right direction. Thanks for the input

    • Josh Summers says:

      Hi Patty! Great questions and I’m so excited that you’re noticing your grandson’s interest in guitar. I was about his same age when I first took an interest in the guitar.

      My parents immediately put me into lessons and although I learned quite a bit during that time, I didn’t really enjoy it. What I enjoyed was just playing what I wanted to play.

      The good news is that nowadays there are a number of online guitar lesson sites that you can allow your grandson to try for a month or two. It’s not a bad way to see how he picks it up and see if it would be worth investing in more formal lessons.

      Hope that helps!

      • Raymonf Robinson says:

        Thank you sir that was quite helpful!

        I’m a grandparent too and I have 2 grandsons who are showing interest at ages 6 and 8!!

  2. Patty says:

    Thank you so much! That helps a lot !

  3. Dave says:

    My eldest son has just started learning at 8. I play guitar myself so they have alot of exposure…My son only really started to want to learn after he listened to Oasis’ Live Forever…He thinks it’s the coolest song ever…My advice is to just relax and expose them to loads of cool guitar music. Both my boys love the classics, Led Zep, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones etc and of coarse Oasis…My younger boy who is 3 is now already showing an interest in the guitar and I would imaging he will be playing by 5.

  4. Abby says:

    My daughter is just 4 years old and she is very interested to play guitar. She can even make a good beat, her hands are still small but she have a good memory. At the age of 2 she memorized the alphabet, diff colors, and shapes, and I have an idea that she can also memorize basic chords. Now, I am thinking if I will buy her a guitar so that she will be more familiar with it. I am not forcing her or anything but I just want to give the thing that she actually LIKE.
    If I decided to buy her one, is that okay or will bring positive result to my Esme? Thanks for the advice and God Bless.

    • Josh Summers says:

      Hey Abby, as you probably know, there is no “magic age” at which it is appropriate to introduce a guitar to a child. If Esme is ready for an instrument, that’s great! Because she is likely very small, I would maybe start off with a cheaper ukelele or a smaller travel guitar just to see how she likes it.

  5. Hikayamasan353 says:

    I used to play guitar since like 7, and it was my grandpa’s Russian 7-string acoustic guitar (Russian guitars, unlike regular 7-stringers, have 19 frets, are always acoustic, and are tuned D-B-G-D-B-G-D rather than B-E-A-D-G-B-E). Unfortunately it had one string popped out so it became an ordinary acoustic guitar… That time, my parents wanted to take me to the tutor, but the tutor’s minimum age was 12. So I decided to learn on my own.
    In like 12-14, my interest in guitar was kinda in oblivion, but then it easily resurrected – when I found out that that old guitar had broken neck… Then my parents bought me the chinese stratocaster and I still play it, except right now the jack wiring broke down… I try my best to fix and solder it now ^__^

  6. Matt says:

    My daughter is 4 and she wants to learn how to play guitar. I bought her a beginners guitar and she’s really excited to learn, but she’s having a hard time holding down the strings. Should I hold back on teaching her or should I encourage her to fight through it? And if she does fight through it what’s a good amount of time to spend practicing?

    • David Owens says:

      A child will improve more if they have more smaller chunks of time than one bug chunk. They will benefit from 3 focused practices of 5 minutes each more tag they would one 20 minute practice. If they can do that 4 times a week, they will improve quite a bit fairly quickly.

  7. Dave says:

    My son is 2 and he is already incredibly passionate about guitars. Every time i play he wants the pick and strums the chords, he even wants to hold the guitar himself. I was thinking about getting him a small 23″ guitar, but is 2 too young? I know he would love it like crazy, but he would probably end up breaking it.. What are your thoughts?

  8. Maria says:

    I have 3 kids, 2 older ones started guitar and piano about a couple of years ago, but gave up guitar choosing piano and are now playing well. My youngest 6yrs old now wants to play guitar, I have 2 three-quarter quitars abandoned by the 2 older kids available at home, he is 6, he showed interest in piano a bit then changed his mind and now insists on guitar lessons — I have a nice young man who came over to assess my son: he said my son is lucky to have big hands and able to comfortable hold and reach cords, and that he seem to pick up tune, cuz my son asked him: is this a D chord? Cuz it sounds like the D chord on the piano. We have decided to do trial lessons for now to see how he goes, hopefully he will love it enough to stick to it and enjoy the instrument.

  9. Elif says:

    Hi Josh,

    I have a 2 year old son who is crazy about electric guitars. Even when he was a couple of months old he would calm down with BB Kings “The Thrill is Gone”. My husband has a Fender Stratocaster and our son loves pulling on its strings and even strums a little. I take him to a music class for toddlers once a week and he loves it.
    When can he start taking electric guitar lessons or does he have to start with acoustic guitar first? I saw that Fender has 1/2 size guitars for kids, what’s your opinion on those?
    Thanks!

  10. Amanda says:

    My son is almost 4 and is obsessed with the guitar and has been for a good year. It is very clear that this also isn’t a fad as he has always been drawn to music. I’m wondering if he’s too young? 5 Sema more appropriate but he absolutely loves it, I’d like to encourage it as much as I can.

  11. Denise says:

    Excellent article! I agree with the ‘child-sized’ guitar to start. Our girl started when she was six and began with a Mini Squire. We had 1/2 hour practice sessions with Fla-Vor-Ice Pops as a motivation.

    Because the strings would hurt her fingers after a short while of play, she would cool/numb them on the popsicle. Once practice was over she could eat the popsicle. It didn’t take long for her fingers to toughen up.

    She just turned 11 yesterday and is still going strong, but this time it’s on an Ibanez Iron Label RGIR20E. (It’s her absolute favorite guitar.) For sure she had to work up to that guitar, but these days she’s playing everything from Beast And The Harlot solos, to Jimmy Hendrix…..and everything in between.

    I think a big part of her dedication comes from using the smaller guitar in the beginning….And the popsicles.

  12. Emily says:

    Josh, my 10 yr old grandson has shown interest in a guitar and his mom is getting him a electric guitar for Christmas(he has wanted one for some time) and besides getting him lessons what could I give as a Christmas gift to help him learn to play. (I plan on getting him guitar lessons after Christmas) No one plays instruments in our family–but his father was a very good guitar player, but has not ever been in my grandson’s life. Thank you

    • Josh Summers says:

      Hey Emily! Thanks for reaching out – I’m excited to hear that your grandson will be getting a guitar this Christmas 😉

      I’m not sure if you’ll be buying just an electric guitar or if you’re buying a beginner pack, but I would also consider a cheap 15-watt amp for him…and a nice pair of headphones for you! When your grandson plugs into one of these beginner amps – which usually have built in effects like distortion or delay – it’ll make him sound great which in turn will make him want to keep playing.

      If you’re just looking for fun little accessories, though, you could consider a fun strap for the guitar or a guitar tuner. Both would be useful. Enjoy!

  13. Rachel S. says:

    My son started when he was 7 because when we did trial at 5 yrs we were discouraged by that teacher. He has been playing for 2 years but I can’t seem to see much progress. He does minimum practice time as required by teacher. Should I stop paying for lessons? He seems to still want to go to his lessons but is really not motivated to do more.
    Guidance is much appreciated.

  14. Pria says:

    Hi Josh..
    Quiet an inspiring article. Thank you.. My daughter s 4.5 yrs old and very interested in Guitar. But here in our place they said it’s very difficult for kids to start at this early age and they suggested her to start with keyboard and with knowledge of music she can transit to guitar easily. Kindly share your perspective.Thank you

  15. I have been teaching students of a wide range of ages to play the guitar for well over 10 years now. I think there is no age range for learning guitar.. a 4 year old child is not too young to learn guitar, an 84 year-old adult is not too old to begin.

    • Cynthia says:

      Hi Samuel..
      Im working on a research project that involves targeting female guitar players..could I get your email and send you just a few questions?

      Thanks.

      C.

  16. Cathy Jensen says:

    I started my son in lessons at 7 with a junior sized guitar. His first teacher was also teaching him to read music. He hated it and it was a misery getting him to do any practice. He’d say he’d forgotten how to do everything he’d learned in class. Then I found out his school friend is going to a different teacher, no reading music, just learning to play and that friend plays a lot better than my son although he’s the same age. I also found out his mother makes him practice half an hour each night, just running through the songs he knows. So I took my son (now 9 and a half) there. 6 months on, all he can really play is smoke on the water on the low E string and it’s costing me $1000 a year. Every time we sit down for practice he claims to have forgotten every chord. Last lesson he got frustrated and angry in front of the teacher and the teacher finished up early. Tonight it took a screaming match to get him to practice a few chords. I’m obviously thinking of pulling the plug on it. But you know, what if it was English or Maths he didn’t want to learn? I’m sure he’s no more interested in those but the teacher can’t just give up on him with those subjects. Why is learning a musical instrument any different? I’ve always had the attitude that it’s just another subject, suck it up, do the homework and get on with your life. You hear too often about kids being allowed to give up on things. How can they acquire skills if we let them quit before they have had any amount of success? If I talk to his teachers they always say that he’s doing alright but I’m not seeing any improvement. Not sure what to do.

  17. AG says:

    Any additional suggestions for a left handed 7 year old who is learning?

    And what do you think of those Guitar Buddy chord trainers? Seems like something I should wait on and see how into the guitar he really gets.

  18. cathy says:

    We bought our 4 year old a Hape toy Ukulele for xmas (at his request) He has always been super into music…. particularly guitar and keyboard heavy country and rock. We got the Hape between the size is manageable for him (and lets me honest it’s cute) and it’s sturdy and a good price. What are the pros/cons of starting on a Ukulele? We just read that the Hape is not tuneable, which seems to defeat the purpose of exposing him to chords etc. So we are already considering trading up to a “real” option. If we do, do you suggest going with another Ukulele? Or small guitar as you mention above?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *