When shopping for a guitar for guitar lessons, I would recommend buying from the salesfloor of a guitar store as opposed to shopping online. When considering the needs of young people, and the wide variety of guitar shapes and sizes, I think it is important to ‘try on’ the instrument like it were a pair of shoes: Your child will tell you honestly if they are comfortable or not holding the instrument. Oftentimes music stores will have guitar teachers in-house who can be available by appointment to assist in wisely advising what instrument to get for your child, having worked with many types of clients already.
Electric or acoustic?
There is a prevailing notion that people should begin on an acoustic, because the strings are heavier, and that it will be harder to learn, so that must mean that learning on an acoustic guitar will produce a higher quality player. I disagree with this notion: The guitar can already be a difficult instrument for some students, and there is no need to compound the difficulty for any reason if it can be helped.
Again, this is where I would advise consulting with a teacher, having them teach a chord or two, and trying multiple guitars out. Maybe your student loves the sound and feel of an acoustic. A guitar teacher will jump at the opportunity to help pick out a guitar that they believe the student will have long-term success playing.
Maybe your student prefers the slimmer body shape and tonal possibilities of an electric guitar. Whichever guitar is selected, electric or acoustic, the strings and string height can be adjusted for greater ease of playability.
For young people, ages 5 and up, I would recommend a 3/4 size guitar, and a nylon string guitar when possible for very young people. Some people who are very young are not bothered by having to develop callouses by playing a steel string guitar (standard acoustic), although some are. A nylon string guitar eliminates this possibility altogether. Later, if they desire a steel-string guitar, that can be considered (playing nylon strings does build callouses, but cause much less pain to the fingertips than steel).
Once the average child turns 10 years or older, manipulating an adult-size guitar becomes steadily possible. I have seen some children younger than 10 prefer to play adult-size guitars and achieve good results, but it is somewhat rare. I have seen some children older than ten prefer to continue to play on a 3/4 size guitar for a little while longer. Almost all high-school aged students can manipulate an adult-sized guitar, just fine.
When selecting a guitar teacher:
* Be willing to travel to the location if possible.
* Find a guitar teacher that can offer recital opportunities.
* Many parents assume that all guitar teachers will be able to teach written music notation.
Ask if the teacher is capable of teaching treble clef note-reading. Your child may prefer a formal approach with classical training, but you’ll never know if your teacher insists on a by-rote/by ear approach, simply because they do not read music!
Once you have your teacher:
* Establish early on with the teacher what level of commitment to practice that you and the teacher can agree on as generally being ‘good’. As every child is different, you perhaps should weigh differently the practice commitment of a child who is active in sports and many other extracurricular activities in addition to guitar lessons, then a child who is enrolled only in music lessons. The level of commitment expected should be clearly communicated to the student, through parent and teacher.
* Establish whether you want your child to read musical notation, play by ear, or both. A qualified teacher can do both.
* Don’t be afraid to let your guitar instructor know what you’re looking to get out of lessons for your child, and encourage your child to speak up and voice opinions about material covered. There is such a wide range of repertoire available for the guitar that it is not asking much of an instructor to tailor material for the student, within reason.
John Farmer is a guitar instructor at Matt’s Music and is currently enrolled at ULM studying Music Education. When not teaching lessons, he can be seen playing around town at places like the Warehouse No.1 Restaurant and with the ULM orchestra. He can be contacted at email@example.com for information about guitar lessons.
Read or Share this story: http://tnsne.ws/2sMSgUP