Advice to Parents
1) Experience has taught me that 12-13 is a good age to start. Children below this
age often lack the maturity, self-discipline, understanding, powers of
concentration, or even the physique, to make good progress. I have, however,
sometimes successfully taught a child as young as 7. There are no hard and fast
rules, and each child has to be considered on his or her individual merits and
willingness to learn.
2) Buying Guitars
The most common problem I encounter usually follows this path:
a) Children tell their parents that they want to learn guitar.
b) Parents, unaware that there are many types of guitars, then
buy a guitar for their child.
c) They then ring me up to book a lesson.
This is not the best way of going about things. At this stage,
if an unsuitable guitar has been bought, the shop may be unwilling to change it
if it is not faulty, and the parents will be reluctant to buy another one.
Children will therefore be left to struggle with instruments that do not really
work for them.
Points to note:
1) For a child under the age of 12, it is quite possible, although not absolutely true,
that a full-size guitar will be unmanageable. It is important that the guitar should be
tried out in a shop, preferably in the presence of an experienced guitar player
(ask the assistant), to see whether it will be possible to play properly, depending upon
the size of the child, their hands and fingers. Many parents are unaware that 1/2, 3/4 size
guitars exist. It has to be said, however, that some cheaper models in these sizes are hard to play.
2) Many young children complain that steel strings hurt their fingers, to the
extent that they are put off playing. It is therefore worth considering buying
a nylon-string “classical”guitar, even if the child is more interested in pop
and rock music. There is really no need to buy an electric guitar until the
student is ready for more advanced techniques. For a young child this may be
several years, unless they make very fast progress. By this time their fingers
will have become more accustomed to the discomfort that strings cause in the
3) Because of thicker string gauges, steel string acoustic guitars are usually
harder to play than electrics, especially for young children, who have not
developed the necessary strength in their hands.
In the light of all the above a 3/4 size electric may well be the best option
for a young child passionate about rock, and determined not to have
a nylon-string guitar.