How young can you start kids learning guitar?

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My 2 and a half year old is showing a huge amount of interest in learning guitar. He likes to strum my real guitars and is also has a ukelele sized toy guitar which he mimcs guitarists from music videos (his favourite is coheed and cambria's welcome home..complete with guitar behind the head for the solo).

Now the toy guitar cant be tuned, the pegs wont hold the tension required to get the strings outside about a 2-3 note range and I would obviously like to encourage him to learn properly. I have seen half sized start guitars and I'm tempted to get one for Xmas but wondered how people have approached teaching very little children the basics.
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  • Kids that age learn things very differently from adults, but are also naturally a lot quicker on the uptake.  They learn to walk and talk from scratch in under two years.

    They learn a lot through play and are very, very sharp in their observations. 

    Sounds like you have a bright little spark, perhaps a uke that can hold it's tune would be a good start?

    My 6yr daughter loves my guitars and has told me to save her the union jack LP in my picture for her when she is older, I'm letting her learn to love her music and she loves dancing, so I've not tried to teach her anything per se, maybe I should!
    Warning: this post may contain overtly affectionate references to Mary Spender
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  • LuttiSLuttiS Frets: 1003
    My 2yr old loves guitar picks.. If i start playing when she is in the room she will make a bee line for me and grab the pick, and usually start strumming the guitar..

    @darthed1981 is right though - start with a uke, small and cheap and will get them used to the idea of frets and the very basics.

    I'm planning on getting her a little Uke beater for Christmas which i imagine in short time will become a Uke beaten with probably my entire pick collection hidden inside..



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  • I’ve taught guitar from 3 upwards . But it does entirely depends on the kid.
    Mine ( who are now only 5 and 6 ) have only just started lessons/playing this summer. The very idea that they’d even listen to me ( let alone sit still long enough to play something!!) was literally impossible at the age of three. You’re lucky !
    I teach mine 1 individual 20 minute lesson a week and they have a practice chart to do 5 minutes four times a week. If they achieve this then they get a prize ( bath bomb for my daughter, one of my old toys for my son )

    The classical guitar learning method and books are much better geared towards the little ones, but it depends on if they can/how much they can read. See if you can get him to learn the names of the strings first ? And then play a game when you can test him for fun ( but with prizes. Always prizes)

    For guitar look at the scenes and themes book by john Compton 

    http://www.sycamoreseries.co.uk/Page1/Page1.html

    Or the guitarists way book one by Peter nuttal 

    lots of open strings and being accompanied.

    Ukulele is an excellent option ( Good Cats Eat Apples) especially if they like nursery rhymes singing etc. I use ukulele basics by Lorraine Bow

    Ukulele Basics: Ukuele Teaching Method https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0571535887/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_XwHQBb9YEMPE5

    Which is more chords and strumming.

    There’s loads of books out there . I wouldn’t try just one. If you find a cool one let me know. I’m always on the lookout for more repertoire.

    Hope that helps.
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  • Thought about a uke but Im wondering if one of the small sized actual guitars would seem more like a real grown up guitar to him? I've seen a pretty cool half size tanglewood LP shape for example.

    He has already shown interest in what the strings (and every other component) are called so already doing this with him. for simplicity all my guitars Ive fibbed a bit and as far as he is concerned are tuned in standard*...even the 5 string bass and the 8 string :) 

    *I dont believe any of my guitars are tuned in standard
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  • I've been told conventional wisdom has it that children have the necessary manual co-ordination and capability for abstraction (needed for reading music) by the age of 8. I have taught successfully a bright 7yo. But if anyone younger shows interest and capability then I'd be very happy to welcome that little person to the wonderful world of music on the guitar.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • The youngest I've ever taught is 9, and even then they're not physically developed enough to hold a guitar properly. I tend to not take on children younger than 10 for this reason. However every now and then you will get a 1 in 1000 child who will get to grips with it very quickly, on a full size guitar as well. Also the older the child is the more it'd be their decision to pick it up, not the parents. 

    And I wouldn't do chords with any young children below 12, just single note melody stuff.
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  • robgilmorobgilmo Frets: 1388
    Either you have a very very big 2 year old or you have never seen one of these mini guitars in the flesh. My wee man is 2 1/2 and we have a little mini Encore Strat, he cant lift it, he cant get his fingers around the fret board and sits on the floor strumming it flat across his legs. Hes a big enough lad , normally mistaken for being older. We bought the guitar for my 6 year old daughter, she struggled to get her hand around the board and in the end took up the piano instead which she enjoys much more.


    Those mini guitars in my view are a waste of time, you need to use really heavy gauge strings to get any tension at all, the fretboards arnt mini fretboards, ours is the same width at the nut to a full sized guitar so small hands struggle, imagine having a childs hands and trying to play a 42mm nut fretboard?

    I wonder if anyone has ever modded a mandolin to 6 string standard tuning?
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  • robgilmorobgilmo Frets: 1388
    edited October 4
    If you took say , this,

     https://www.gear4music.com/Guitar-and-Bass/Epiphone-MM-30S-A-Style-Mandolin-Antique-Sunburst/F2N#full-des

    Then cut a nut for it to accept 6 strings evenly spaced, then modded the bridge and tail again for 6 strings, then with its 27mm nut width and body/neck size you would have an almost perfectly scaled down half size guitar would you not? The string tension is another battle but its a start? 
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  • PolarityManPolarityMan Frets: 4231
    robgilmo said:
    Either you have a very very big 2 year old or you have never seen one of these mini guitars in the flesh. My wee man is 2 1/2 and we have a little mini Encore Strat, he cant lift it, he cant get his fingers around the fret board and sits on the floor strumming it flat across his legs. Hes a big enough lad , normally mistaken for being older. We bought the guitar for my 6 year old daughter, she struggled to get her hand around the board and in the end took up the piano instead which she enjoys much more.


    Those mini guitars in my view are a waste of time, you need to use really heavy gauge strings to get any tension at all, the fretboards arnt mini fretboards, ours is the same width at the nut to a full sized guitar so small hands struggle, imagine having a childs hands and trying to play a 42mm nut fretboard?

    I wonder if anyone has ever modded a mandolin to 6 string standard tuning?
    Interesting...no I havent seen one in person. So maybe a vaguely guitar shaped uke that can actually hold tune is the way to go.
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  • robgilmorobgilmo Frets: 1388
    Aren't Ukes the same kind of nut size to a guitar? I've only ever seen cheap ones and they had plastic strings and a huge action, not ideal, my thoughts are young children should want to learn so why make it anymore uncomfortable than it has to be. That's why I thought mandolin, decent action, small strings, smaller size at nut and neck.
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  • KitsuneKitsune Frets: 223
    My eldest had a toy plastic guitar, then a toy wooden one - both untuneable. Will get her a small starter acoustic and see how she goes with that.

    Really, I should just do what I had and leave some laying around the house. The Tele, as that can take a battering.
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  • Balrog68Balrog68 Frets: 34
    Mandolin = very high tension = very sore, tired little fingers very quickly. I've got an octave mandolin that has the top 4 acoustic guitar strings on for my 3yr old Granddaughter and nieces and nephews to play with. They seem to be OK with that and you can play proper 'part' chords on it if they actually want to learn. 
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  • danowensdanowens Frets: 5
    I've got a beater uke for my 2 year old, tuned it to Open C and let her bash around on it, with me playing along. I also bought her a set of combi bells so we can play some melodic recall games (not yet though!!)I bought a Yamaha GL1 for her but in researching strings and tuning I've decided to probably keep her on the uke (or upgrade to one that'll stay in tune). I want her to enjoy and explore music so she is motivated to improve and not just be a pushy parent who lives vicariously through her. Too many of my friends who I grew up playing with in orchestras no longer play, whilst my teenage band friends still love music. I think it has a lot to do with facilitating their own exploration rather than leading it,
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