Teaching Myself Guitar -- Now My 5-Year-Old Wants to Learn!

by Lisa


Dana --
I ran across your web site in a search for sheet music to use in my latest attempt to teach myself guitar. I have no formal music background, so it's a bit of a challenge, to say the least, especially since I'm trying to learn music theory AND ear training at the same time!

In the process, my daughter (now 5) decided that she wanted to learn too. She's got a good ear (probably better than mine!), and falls in love with every instrument she encounters, but we can't afford lessons right now, so her selection is limited to what I can teach her / help her learn. I got her a cheap small guitar to play with for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I try to keep it tuned, but it's only recently that she's shown interest in actually learning to play rather than just randomly strumming (and actually grown into the thing, really -- it's sized for a 6-8 year old, but she's tall for her age).

In your experience, is 5 too young to learn? I've looked at the links you've posted for beginner books for kids -- are any of those more / less appropriate for a child who is just started reading? Or am I better off just teaching her bits and pieces here and there for another year or so before trying to work with a formal book?



Hi, Lisa,

If she were my child, that is exactly what I would do (teach her bits and pieces with no book) -- teach her almost entirely by rote at that age, until she had good finger skills, hand posture, and had memorized the "little" chords and could play a bit of music. After that, I would start using a combination of notereading and tablature.

Tablature doesn't usually give the rhythm, so it is limited -- but beginners do well with it. (I've heard tablature condemned almost as if it were a "gateway drug" that lures innocents away from the discipline of notereading!)

For very young kids, I've decided I prefer the Alfred book, because it starts not with note-reading, but chord symbols and a strum pattern. That's so much easier (although of course you have to sing, so that there is a tune -- a very fun thing for young kids!).

Five is not too young to begin, but don't expect her to sit very long at a time. Probably the most productive thing you can do with her right now is teach her all the chords she can reach with her small fingers and memorize, and then play and sing songs together. Simple 2-chord songs like Down in the Valley are great...


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