#1
Ok
So obviously told my 6 year old cousin that if he got his own guitar I would teach him how to play. I say 'obviously' because I don't ever remember saying this, but he swears up and down by it and I really wouldn't mind teaching him how to play except I have absolutely no idea where to start(I'm self taught).

So guys do you know anywhere that has any information on what the best way to teach a 6 year old how to play, or if you have any experience yourself in this type of situation, all help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Peace
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#2
I believe the word you are looking for is apparently, not obviously.
I would start by teaching him the proper way to play (how to hold the guitar, fingering, picking, expressive techniques, etc...) and when he has the ability to actually play the guitar, teach him music theory.
Probably want to start by teaching him easy songs he likes so that he wont get bored.
#3
Only thing i can think of is teach him songs he is intrested in so he stays with it. Then if he wants to continue get him into different techniques.
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#4
Quote by Frontbassman
...So guys do you know anywhere that has any information on what the best way to teach a 6 year old how to play, or if you have any experience yourself in this type of situation, all help would be appreciated.
I have been teaching students of all ages for many years. My opinion, based on this experience, is that a six-year-old is too young to begin guitar studies. You're setting you and your cousin up for a lot of frustration. A child that young has insufficient attention span, insufficient hand size, and probably has little tolerance for the pain they'll encounter in the early stages of learning the instrument. And any "guitar" scaled small enough to fit his frame will have terrible intonation, another source of frustration for both you and him.

My advice would be to tell your cousin you'll gladly start teaching him when he turns 10. This, by the way, is the absolute minimum age at which I'll start a student.
All things are difficult before they are easy.
- Dr. Thomas Fuller (British physician, 1654-1734)
Quote by Freepower
For everything you need to know - gpb0216.
#5
Quote by gpb0216
My advice would be to tell your cousin you'll gladly start teaching him when he turns 10. This, by the way, is the absolute minimum age at which I'll start a student.


If I recall correctly, I once saw an 8-year-old kid appear on Conan and he played "Crossroads" with the band, including the solo, and he was good.
#6
Quote by pwrmax
If I recall correctly, I once saw an 8-year-old kid appear on Conan and he played "Crossroads" with the band, including the solo, and he was good.
One in a billion.
All things are difficult before they are easy.
- Dr. Thomas Fuller (British physician, 1654-1734)
Quote by Freepower
For everything you need to know - gpb0216.
#7
gpb0216 - Agreed. The guy I studied with as I was getting my degree in classical guitar had a guideline that he followed. According to him, until about the age of 8, the muscle and bone structure in the hand are insufficient to do anything with any meaning on the guitar.

From my own personal teaching experience, I had subsequently refused to teach anyone under the age of 8. My experience with 8-year-olds seems to validate this. My success with them has been spotty for the reasons that I and gpb0216 pointed out.

I practice what I preach. My oldest daughter is *very* musically inclined. We started her with piano when she was about 5 or 6. She's taking violin now and has done recorder. She turns ten this summer and I'll be buying her her first axe.

She has the background to read music in treble and bass clef, to use both hands to play music, to finger strings over a fretboard, and has a great ear. She'll quickly gain over kids who started guitar at 8 or 7 or whatever.

CT
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#8
Quote by gpb0216
I have been teaching students of all ages for many years. My opinion, based on this experience, is that a six-year-old is too young to begin guitar studies. You're setting you and your cousin up for a lot of frustration. <snip> My advice would be to tell your cousin you'll gladly start teaching him when he turns 10. This, by the way, is the absolute minimum age at which I'll start a student

Depends on the child, I've taught hundreds of children from age eight with great success, some of whom have gone on to Conservatorium and university performance study in both jazz and classical.
There are specialised methods, such as the Suzuki, for younger pupils, but you do need to know what you are doing. In general I decline pupils under eight unless they demonstrate aptitude in certain areas of co-ordination etc as determined by a few tests.

Quote by gpb0216
A child that young has insufficient attention span, insufficient hand size, <snip>

IMO this is in general true and can be obstacles for those under eight years if not using a specialised approach.

Quote by gpb0216
<snip> ..and probably has little tolerance for the pain they'll encounter in the early stages of learning the instrument.

This statement alarms me. Besides perhaps initially experiencing mild discomfort to fretting finger tips, no pupil should ever experience any pain whatsoever . EVER. Pain is a symptom of incorrect, inadequately prepared or misdirected technique.

Quote by gpb0216
And any "guitar" scaled small enough to fit his frame will have terrible intonation,
another source of frustration for both you and him.

That's completely subjective and dependent on the quality of the instrument. Besides intonation problems unually manifest themselves in higher positions, a beginner is unlikely to encounter them before upgrading instruments. Full size nylon string guitars, in conjuction with a capo, are also a good option, especially age 8 upward.
#9
teach him basic recognisable nursery rhyme melodies mary had a little lamb, twinkle twinkle on the gbe strings. Then just let him practice that till he's got it down while you give him the odd pointer on posture and technique etc. When he thinks he's got the first one down pretty good introduce him to a metronome and get him counting/ tapping without his guitar and then playing his nursery rhyme along with the metronome.

Try to encourage him but if he gives up he's not ready. If he takes to it like a duck to water keep going.

Just introduce basic ideas of melody, notes, posture, and timing. Show him some sheet music for the nursery rhymes and slowly teach him what it means. So he can have something to look at too.

When he can play his first couple nursery rhymes at a good steady rhythm start introducing slightly more complex melodies but not anything too demanding or taxing. Eventually maybe a hammer or a slide - that'll give him something to work on just give him something new to work on until he eventually surpasses you in skill or just gives up.
Si
#10
Success rate for teaching 6 year olds = very very low.

6 is just too young, unless it's a special circumstance (like a musical family where the parents are HEAVILY involved), and the kid is uniquely mature for his age.

I generally tell parents to bring him/her back when they are 8 or older.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jan 8, 2009,
#11
Quote by gpb0216
...and probably has little tolerance for the pain they'll encounter in the early stages of learning the instrument.
Quote by R.Christie
This statement alarms me. Besides perhaps initially experiencing mild discomfort to fretting finger tips, no pupil should ever experience any pain whatsoever . EVER. Pain is a symptom of incorrect, inadequately prepared or misdirected technique.
Don't be alarmed. To a typical six-year-old, "mild discomfort to fretting finger tips" is pain. Again, this is my experience. Perhaps you're teaching a hardier group of children.
Quote by gpb0216
And any "guitar" scaled small enough to fit his frame will have terrible intonation, another source of frustration for both you and him.
Quote by R.Christie
That's completely subjective and dependent on the quality of the instrument. Besides intonation problems unually manifest themselves in higher positions, a beginner is unlikely to encounter them before upgrading instruments. Full size nylon string guitars, in conjuction with a capo, are also a good option, especially age 8 upward.
I would be happy to learn of a correctly-scaled guitar in the price range of the typical parents of the new six-year-old student. I don't dispute that such instruments exists, I have simply never encountered one. And even if I did learn of an affordable, tiny, correctly-scaled guitar, I still wouldn't take a student younger than 10. But that's just me.

To the thread starter: I say again that, in my opinion, you're setting yourself up for some serious frustration. But of course, that's your call all the way.

All the best,
gpb
All things are difficult before they are easy.
- Dr. Thomas Fuller (British physician, 1654-1734)
Quote by Freepower
For everything you need to know - gpb0216.
#12
Quote by gpb0216
in my opinion, you're setting yourself up for some serious frustration.


+ 1

Not sure if this was mentioned, but the maturity issue is very important as well.
Most 6 year olds don't have the patience for it. (and in most cases the true desire isnt there either.... or at least it doesnt last long when they realize it's work).
shred is gaudy music
#13
Wonderful to see so many of UGs pros and teachers in the same thread, giving out good advice. I'm not as experienced as most (all, I think... ) of the teachers posting here, but my main work is dealing with groups of young children. All but three of my pupils are younger than 12 at the minute.

While they may not make much progress, I think there's certainly no harm in helping them to play without pushing them too much. There's a kind of kid I see at work that doesn't really mind what happens during a lesson as long as at the end of the day we get to crank a 10W and he gets to jam on an Em chord for 5 minutes.

If the threadstarter is enthusiastic and easygoing, I'm sure that the kid could be introduced to the "fun" side of guitar, a few really easy riffs, and just let them make some noise.

That's completely subjective and dependent on the quality of the instrument. Besides intonation problems unually manifest themselves in higher positions, a beginner is unlikely to encounter them before upgrading instruments. Full size nylon string guitars, in conjuction with a capo, are also a good option, especially age 8 upward.


The nylon string guitar is brilliant for beginners, fo sho. Unfortunately, re: shorter scale guitars, the kind of money that most parents will spend on a guitar for a 6 (or even 8) year old is not enough to purchase anything that escapes poor intonation.

We actually have a mini-guitar at work (can't remember the exact scale) where the 2nd fret sounds nearly a minor third above the open string...
#14
I am definately not a pro teacher, but I thought I'd share my experiences here. When my son was about 18-21 months old, he was showing a great interest in my guitars, as you couldn't leave him for a minute without him being in the music room slapping at the strings and such. This was not a once or twice thing, it was all the time. For his second birthday we bought him a $20 kids acoustic from Walmart. Since he was obviously way too young to teach, we simply told him it was his, and left it at that. He was all over it, banging away, then moving to this 2 handed open string strumming technique. Before long he was grasping the rudiments of song structure. I vividly remember this conversation when has barely 3, and he was showing us his song, saying "and this is the slow part" *slow noise* "and this is the fast part" *fast noise* and "this is the sad part" *sad noise* "and this is the angry part" *angry noise*.

He's 5 now, 6 in April. We got him an Ibanez Micro (nice little guitar for only 130.00 and small enough to be managable if a little big for a 5-6 yr old) for his 5th birthday. He was realizing that he couldn't sound like me (not sure this is a good thing!) on his little acoustic and was getting frustrated about this, so we got him that and gave him my old practice amp. He still doesn't have any theory or know conventional chords or scales. He strums 3-4 string open chords, and alters them by fretting one or two notes with his thumb and a finger, but he's developed a knack for getting them to sound good. Sometimes he'll play little single note lines too. His rhythm is absolutely rock solid, and his use of dynamics is very good.
Here's the thing, though. You put on a backing track, and with no theory, and limited technique, he will play something, and it will just work. I don't know how to describe it. It just works. My wife and I will be out on the patio having a smoke, and we will look in, and he is in an absolute trance, just totally one with the music.

Over the years, I have actually physically taught him almost nothing. All I have ever done was encourage him, acted excited (didn't have to act, he's my son, I was excited) whenever he showed me something, never forced it on him, and maybe gave him one or two tips about holding the guitar and strumming and such. Later on, and if he's interested, I'll give him more tips along the lines of chords and scales, and aspects of technique, but he's too young for that now. But it seems that he's already learning something far more fundamental and powerful than that.

So I think kids that age can learn a whole lot about a musical instrument, but in most cases it's probably soon for conventional teaching. Expecting a 6 yr old to spend to spend hours practicing changing from a D to a C chord would probably turn him off the instrument at that age. Just let him discover the instrument, be supportive of his efforts, and just give him a few tips here and there.
#15
se012101 - That is one of the most awesome stories I have ever read. I really hope that my son/daughter one day will show just as much enthusiasm. You must be very proud. Rock on.

MadTaco
"He who controls the past, controls the future. He who controls the present, controls the past." - Orwell
#16
se012101 unless you are completely exaggerating (which parents usually do - no offence intended) your son, if you teach him is going to become legend if you teach him.

When I started learning guitar there was me (9), my friend (8), a guy I didn't like much (9)
and a smaller kid (6). The guy I didn't like much and the smaller kid ended up quitting. At a time I wanted to quit, but I made a promise... a promise to myself that I wouldn't quit my dream.

So Frontbassman ask your cousin to promise you that he won't quit no matter how tough it gets.
#17
The way I see it, a kid must be really eager if he is voluntarily asking for lessons. Why shouldn't he be given the opportunity to try?

I would start off by teaching him how to hold the guitar, how to play notes in time with a metronome and then introduce him to tabs.
Practice. Play. Sleep. Repeat.

Quote by pearlJam_31490
i take it next your going to tell me that Cb is a note too!
#18
i teach 6 year olds guitar ,
I use the rgt initial accoustic grade book .
where possible Isuggest simple single note studies on the G,B and e string of the guitar .
using notes up to the 3rd fret.
Play lots of music , get students to write songs with felt tips ,
The G pentatonic major scale is a good place to start ,
that's

G:0,G:2
B:0,B:3

e:0,e:3
if you start on e:3 you can find a version of "old mac donald had a farm " with these notes

e:3 e:3 e:3 B:3 (you play)
e:0 e:0 B:3 (student answers )
B:0 B:0 G:2 G:2 G:0 (You play )