I base the 25 tips for guitar lessons for kids after years of specializing in teaching children’s guitar.
If you’re a parent or guitar teacher, I believe you’ll find the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years
as valuable to you.
This is the first time that I have shared my experience with others with the goal of making it easier
for you to understand how to make your guitar accessible to younger ages.
Every child who is getting into guitar lessons for kids must have a right strategy that reflects his modern world
and fits his unique characteristics.
One that cultivates this part of the brain so that it succeeds more in school,
One that restrains impulses and redirects them to positive channels so that his talent will make him a better person.
What’s the key to a successful guitar lesson for kids?
You may now have skeptical thoughts like:
“How can a little child play? I always thought his body should grow before he could even hold a guitar …”
“But no one in our family has a musical background at all …”
“I played when I was his age, and it was a nightmare for me …”
(It’s just a taste of legitimate thoughts I’ve heard from parents in the past 15 years.)
After 27 years of playing and 15 years of teaching in the younger ages I would say:
To learn from an experience!
And as Albert Einstein said:
“Learning is an experience; everything else is information.”
In the New World, the old method of study no longer works,
And our children want to achieve a real result in the least possible time.
They want to play guitar to enjoy, Break routine, “join the party,”
and connect with their feelings.
Therefore, a guitar lesson for children must you must base on :
– Music content related to their life experience.
– A musical instrument that builds life skills and values.
– An interactive process that develops creativity.
The 25 tips for guitar lessons for kids
1. Build a relationship that fosters learning.
The kids might forget what they learned but will remember what you made them feel.
And that’s what will make them come to class.
They will get to the lesson over and over again to have the same positive feeling.
2. Set goals
Set concrete goals and announce them to the class every lesson.
For example, “Until half the year we’ll know the next six chords …” “In the eighth lesson, we’ll shoot the tune …” etc.
3. The optimal lesson duration
From my experience, the time frame of the lesson is 30 minutes.
If the lesson is in a school where the time of the teaching is 45 minutes, then take advantage of the first 10 minutes so students will tune the guitars with tuners as you walk around to help them.
Encourage students who already know how to tune the guitar with a tuner, to help other children.
Take advantage of the last 5 minutes for fun and preferably interactive content like
singing a song that they know when you accompany them on guitar, musical quiz, etc.
4. The guitar lesson plan
Since the average attention time for children is 3-4 minutes, you need to build a “train of contents,”
about 8-10 subjects per guitar lesson.
Content can be rhythm, song, notes, strumming pattern.
Make it experiential, interactive and light.
5. The frequency of lessons
The ideal number I recommend is a two-week 30-minute frequency at equal intervals such
as Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday.
Me teaching according to the 25 tips for guitar lessons for kids:
6. Practicing outside class time
My perception is that every practice beyond two times a week is optional.
If the child voluntarily wants to spend time with the guitar, you should undoubtedly allow him and
manage it in a supportive learning environment and a pleasant atmosphere.
Use playbacks, video, notation software, digital tuner/applications, and so on.
The combination of up-to-date tools for teaching the material will make it easier for you, the guitar teacher,
to make your student more involved and benefit more from the content you teach,
which sometimes, let’s face it, is a bit boring …
8. The best guitar classroom
Make sure that space is free from distractions such as unneeded objects, side noise, etc.
Arrange the chairs in enough large areas to prevent collisions between students’ guitars.
9. The student’s comfortable posture
I would recommend using a footstool that would prevent the student from being distracted because
of an unstable position, so the guitar slipping him all the time.
If you don’t have a footstool, then the student will sit on a low chair while both feet are on the ground in full.
10. Set a due date for guitar concert or recording
This will stimulate the students (and you too), connect the parents to the guitar learning process and
“spread the gospel” of what you are doing.
11. Document the guitar lessons
In this documentation, you can concentrate on the group of children as one organic body and
take a video of different phenomena in the guitar playing of individual students and how different students apply the same technical requirements differently like fingerpicking, posture, etc.
You also can find common mistakes and, in general, a lot of high-resolution information that you might miss in the lesson.
You should show the students how they sound and play.
It is a powerful tool to develop their self-awareness (and yours).
12. Remember that most students won’t become guitarists
That is why I recommend that the enthusiastic teacher or proud parent maintain the correct perspective when encountering some resistance from the student.
Which leads me to the next principle …
13. The “pull” approach vs. the “push” approach
The current generation of children is different from what we were.
The way content is consumed has changed, the speed of information has increased, interests have become more diverse, the point of early adolescence, the kinds of music they are listening to, and more.
Much of the strict methods that once worked are no longer working today.
When the learning experience of the student is positive, he will want more from it,
and then the achievements will come from themselves along with the teacher’s proper guidance and the construction of precise and appropriate lesson plans.
Even if the “push” approach helps you, you run the risk of teasing the guitar and the music in general.
14. The “modes” of the guitar during class
In the guitar class, there is time to play and time to talk.
To avoid noise in the class, you will divide the interaction between you and the guitar students into two situations:
“Sleep Mode” – The guitar is turned upside down on the student’s feet when you speak or in a conversation between you and them.
“Play Mode” – when playing.
15. Take advantage of Playbacks
Take advantage of the time the playback is on to correct mistakes and give feedback.
This is your opportunity to reach each one of them in the full sense of the word.
16. Guitar playing comes before guitar theory
Or “When the rubber meets the road.”
Mostly, the student will be interested in music and guitar theory only after applying over time the practice it represents.
In the first year, my emphasis is to maximize the time when fingers touch the strings and leave a smaller percentage of time for theoretical knowledge.
Moreover, I met a lot of students with musical talent but with an unwillingness to take a reason to go deeper into studying the notes.
My definite recommendation: Let them make music first of all.
17. Inspire your students
Demonstrate your skills on the guitar and play them a piece, tell them your personal story and share your guitar playing process. Watch guitar videos together from inspirational live shows, guitar luthiers, etc. Allow yourself to be more personal and in this way will encourage openness and a more in-depth connection between you and your young guitarists.
18. The overlapping material
80% of the time of the lesson will consist of a previous one.
Why is it?
The guitar is a very technical tool that requires considerable physical and mental effort,
such as getting used to sitting with the guitar and to the feeling of pain when pressing the strings with their fingertips.
We want to go through this stage without leaving a bad taste, and that the student will get used to those guitar playing sensations in the shortest period of time.
Besides, children of this age are quick to forget what has been learned,
and the repetition of the previous lesson reinforces the knowledge of the material you teach and
gives the student a sense of confidence in the guitar and the process.
It is a good idea, of course, to vary the presentation of the same content from time to time.
19. Introduce the guitar in different types of music
- You can hear a guitar in almost all musical genres of any kind:
electric guitar, acoustic, classical to the kinds of an ethnic plucked instrument such as bouzouki, Oud, sitar, and so on. Use the multiplicity styles of the guitar as a means to encourage thought pluralism and removing stereotypes.
25. Guitar types
Whether its an acoustic or classical guitar, a 1/2 size guitar is the default for me in grades 1 through 3.
Sometimes there are children in the third grade who are developed for their age,
and then I would recommend a 3/4 guitar size.
The principle that guides us is whether the child holds the guitar comfortably without over-lifting the shoulder of the hand resting on the guitar and that the other hand comes conveniently to all the strings in the guitar neck in the first part of the frets.
21. A guitar lesson for parents and children
If possible, make a lesson for parent and child after about half a year and also toward the end of the year.
Write an open string guitar part for the parent to accompany the student in the melodies or songs he has already learned.
The parent will be impressed by your professionalism, and most importantly, you have just given a gift of quality time between the parent and his child. Both of them will be grateful for that.
22. Make guitar craft activities
This would deepen the connection of the students to the guitar, especially those in first grade.
Examples of guitar craft would be:
building a decorated guitar body from a shoebox and rubber straps on it,
fabric guitar images printing with crayons and sandpaper, etc. The sky’s the limit.
Embed the habit to switch between the fingers in each new note because they would tend to play with only one finger, usually the thumb or forefinger.
This will open up their motor skills and will sound much better.
For the last reason, I wouldn’t recommend using the pick at this stage and age.
24. The pen principle
Make sure that the inside of the student’s hand and the neck of the guitar are spaced so that he
can insert a pen inside.
It is an experiential visual principle that will help him to remember it and prevent himself from silencing strings under the palm of his hand.
25. Small guitar victories
Teach in short doses of 10-20 seconds or 2-8 bars piece to increase the frequency of ” ready to show melodies.” Start with 2-4 pieces of open strings only and add the parts of the other hand gradually.
The fact that the student has accomplished several pieces will improve his motivation and sense of self-confidence. This is because of any achievement, no matter how small, triggers the reward circuit of our brain so
let them win as much as possible!
I hope you enjoyed this 25 tips for guitar lessons for kids.