Your child is NOT too young for guitar

Any parent who witnesses the development of their child can’t help be amazed at how much they learn in such a short period. Their development is truly phenomenal. To put this into perspective, a child under 5 learns an average of 1000 new words a year and manages to put it all together to the point where by 5 years of age they can converse fluently with anyone who speaks the same language. This is all while learning to survive in the unknown world around them. Any adult who has traveled to a foreign country and lived in a remote area where no one speaks the language might have some idea of what this is like. Also remember that unlike the adult the child has no point of reference. They can’t ask questions like “In your language how do I say …..?”

Gifted children are everywhere

Now naturally when a parent sees their own child learning at such an incredible rate they can’t help but feel their child is gifted. You might think I am about to disagree but the fact is your child is gifted as are all children compared to adults.  If adults were to learn at even half the rate of a child we could all complete a university master degrees on any subject every year. When you stop for a minute and think about the mind boggling pace of a young child’s learning it is truly phenomenal. Even those children who at school perform below par at times demonstrate unique talents that are not always obvious in their youth. Chance are they are just developing a different part of their brain that is not connected to the school curriculum. We only have to look at Einstein (teacher said “Einstein, you will never amount to anything”), Sir Isaac Newton (failed at school), Thomas Edison ( teacher said he was too stupid to learn anything), Steven Spielberg ( placed in a learning-disabled class) as some good examples.

Is your child too young to learn guitar? 

Parents sometimes hold back their children from learning music often believing that they are too young. This surprisingly is quite common with guitar. There is a misconception in the public that guitar should be learnt later. When asked most parents will say children should start guitar between 7 years and 12 years. Even many music teachers believe this to be the ideal starting age but we need to make a distinction between popular opinion and actual fact. I am not about to say that I have any scientific proof that starting guitar from 2 years of age is best but I am quite convinced that starting early has definite advantages providing it is done right. When we compare the elements of learning guitar to similar skills a young child learns we see that starting early is often critical. Playing guitar requires fine motor skill development and can be compared to a skill like hand writing. Even by the age of 3 or 4 most children can write their name in most developed countries. My 2 year old daughter can hold a guitar pick and individually pick each string on the guitar. While this may seem a simple task it is actually very difficult (just ask a robotic engineer) so it demonstrates how sophisticated a child’s brain really is. The aural skills of music can be compared to language and there is no question that the best time to start learning any language is the day you are born or even earlier. Imagine waiting until age of 7 before introducing your child to reading and writing.

Some points to consider when starting young

While I fully encourage starting children as early as possible on guitar there are a few points to consider. Firstly do not put the same expectations on to a 2 year old as you would a 10 year old. Allow them room to experiment. This may mean banging the guitar, pulling strings, turning the tuning pegs etc. It is all part of the early learning experience. Secondly you are not looking for results in terms of performance. You just want them to become curious. You can use the the guitar to play games. With my 2 year old for instance we have given each string a familiar character. E.g. the low E string is Shrek while the high E string is Fiona so now several times a day she will pluck a string and say it’s character name. Lastly its important to be aware that many guitar teachers have zero experience with young children so they will simply say they are too young. What they really mean is your child is too young for them to teach. What you need to do is seek out a teacher who is prepared to work with young children. If this is not possible where you live start by enrolling them into an early music  development course. Also feel free to contact myself if you have any questions.

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