#1
Hi forums

A friend of mine has asked that I teach her 4 year old daughter guitar. She has either a quarter or half size acoustic with nylons, and apparently she sits and strums on it all the time.

I've taught guitar before, but never a child. I know most people are going to say 4 is too young- I agree, but it's for a friend, so I have to try, and knowing the kid I wouldn't instantly dismiss her ability to learn anyway.

From what I've read, it looks like I need to turn it into a series of games. I need to get her playing something she likes the sound of while never making it seem like a chore. My biggest concern is that she won't be strong enough to fret the strings; there are only so many strumming and rhythm excercises you can do before you need to start fretting something.

Anyone ever teach someone this young? Any advice? If it doesn't work out it doesn't work out, but I need to give her a chance.
#2
Quote by Rumpleskinstein

From what I've read, it looks like I need to turn it into a series of games. I need to get her playing something she likes the sound of while never making it seem like a chore. My biggest concern is that she won't be strong enough to fret the strings; there are only so many strumming and rhythm excercises you can do before you need to start fretting something.


This. It goes without saying you have to keep the mental aspect of guitar to a total minimum and make it as fun as possible.

My boss (a guitar teacher himself) and I usually default to this book at work. It's perfect for that age group and we've had a lot of success with kids as young as three.

https://www.google.com/search?q=children%27s+guitar+method&espv=2&biw=1440&bih=712&source=lnms&sa=X&ei=NP_KVKvxO4eWgwTFmYDQDQ&ved=0CAUQ_AUoAA&dpr=1#q=children%27s+guitar+method+mel+bay

The other thing to be aware of is that progress is going to be at a snail's pace compared to a ten year old or adult. Expect to spend multiple sessions on the G and C chords and note names on the high E string (E - F -G) alone.

4 is not too young to start guitar, it just has to be taught differently than you would a teen seeking to be an "artist." Whatever that means.

Feel free to ask me whatever, we get a lot of little kids at my workplace.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#4
I have a four year old student. I was teaching her today.

My advice is not to worry about the lesson length.Just let them play as along as they like.
Listen to their stories and interject with playing bits of your favourite songs.

If the goal is just to inspire, then 4 would be okay to start the guitar.
Many songs can be adapted to open strings for instance say you was playing stand by me.
The the student could pick an open G and D strings in time with you as you play the chords

|G|G|Em|Em|C|D|G|G|

I find some students prefer to have the guitar on their lap.You can hold it in place , and they can play to a backing track.
Fretting with the thumb and all kinds of bad habits.But Sometimes you just have to balance this with the student enjoying music.
#5
I learned when I was 5, I was singing along with the radio, or trying to, when I was 2. So I think 4 is not too young.

Teach her 3 chords and put it together with some sort of simple song. Old Macdonald or anything, a kid song. It will be slow, but if she already tries to strum the thing, she has an interest, all you have to do is teach her a few chords and figure out a way to keep that interest alive.

My uncle taught me "Little Brown Jug", an old folk song. He and his brother kept at it, teaching me whatever I could handle over the next few years, and of course always telling me I was doing great, even when I'm sure I sucked out loud...By the time I was 8 I was playing songs with them and singing lead or harmonies. Most kids haven't even tried to start by age 8...

It started when he caught me playing with his guitar, an old Silvertone acoustic, same as any 5 year old kid will. He told me if I was going to play it, play it right. I said I didn't know how. He said he'd teach me so I said OK...the rest just took on a life of its own. Soon as I learned that first song I knew I could do it, and wanted to learn more. Still learning...54 years later...

I've taught 6 year old kids, it's slow and tedious, but if you get them a song to play and get it across that it takes practice, keep it fun, it will work.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
Last edited by Paleo Pete at Jan 30, 2015,
#6
My 4 year old plays open tuning with a slide and makes up his own songs on the fly. Its not always the greatest sounding but his improvisational skills totally put mine to shame.
If your friends child is already spending time with the guitar then don't do much else, imho. About the only thing you can do there is make it boring and rigid and destroy their love for it. I don't think pdaying anything in key is very important at this age, but thats just my 2c.
Last edited by innovine at Feb 7, 2015,
#7
I have a theory on that.

Little kids, to us, often improv really well because they haven't developed any creative filter where they are subconsciously (or consciously) throwing out ideas without demo-ing them first.

Their playing and goofing contains traces of that "liberation" that many strive for.

Teaching them right won't destroy creativity or love for anything. If you can keep the kid engaged they will take to it like a duck to water.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#8
When someone brings a young person to me to teach, that age, I start with a ukulele. If they can do well with a 1 finger chord, and learn some chords on a uke and some songs, and they show commitment...those chord shapes are the same as the 6 string guitar, but with an added note or two.

If they can't make it on a uke, they won't make it on the guitar. I use the ukulele as a "proving ground" to make sure the parents arent spending a ton of money, and at the same time, show if their kid is actually ready and willing to put the time in to learn. If not, they got out cheap, and if so, they transition to the guitar very very well.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Feb 9, 2015,