Many parents aren’t sure how to best support their child in learning a new instrument. Guitar teacher Dylan P. shares his tips for parents to encourage their children to fall in love with the guitar…
You can’t teach a child to love the guitar. You can lead them there, but they have to find it themselves. For a kid, guitar is a hard instrument to play. They have to dig their fingers into steel strings, make indents, and get calluses.
They have to understand that each note has a letter, each fret has a letter, but also a number, and so does each string. These letters are represented by note heads, FACE for the spaces, Every Good Boy Does Fine for the lines, Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie for the strings.
There’s a lengthy period of frustration before the instrument even sounds good. If a child plays a middle C on a piano, it’s immediately satisfying. You have to hurt your finger a bit on a guitar.
To show a child how to fall in love with guitar, they have to find it themselves. As a guitar teacher, I want my students to understand the following things after lesson one:
• They are capable of making the guitar sound good.
• They are capable of making it sound musical.
• They are capable of figuring out how to do these things.
• They want to learn more.
Once your child has had their first lesson, how do you as a parent keep them interested in practicing? Playing guitar needs to be their choice. Here are a few tips to keep your child’s motivation up at home:
1. Don’t hide the guitar.
When you keep the guitar in its case, it becomes a process to take it out again. It’s easier to skip practice when it’s an event. The vice of too much television is common because it’s so accessible. Make the guitar just as inviting. Keep it in a spot where your child can just pick it up and start playing. Is there a room in your house where your child spends a lot of time? Keep it there!
2. Give music a strong presence in the household.
If you’re also a musician, spend time playing your instrument in the house. If you haven’t played in a while, this is a great time to bring it back. If you’re not a musician, you can make sure music is on in the house a lot, or you might even want to learn music with your child. Bring up conversations about your favorite types of music. Let this be a natural and fun process. Ask your child if they like the music you’re listening to. This lets your child know that music is appreciated here. This is a huge motivation.
3. Don’t treat it like homework.
If your child is practicing guitar at home and it sounds like noise, that’s fine. The lessons will get more difficult. Your child will learn all of the correct vocabulary, music theory, and techniques. During those first few weeks it’s important that your child simply wants the instrument in their hands. Don’t put practicing guitar in the same category as homework. Never use guilt to make your child practice. If you want your child to love guitar, it should never feel like a chore.
4. Let your child explore.
Let your child practice alone. Setting your child up to practice in a common area, with other people around, makes it awkward to explore. If they’re alone, they’re free to make noise and mess up as much as they want. If they want to practice in the same room as you, that’s fine, but it should be up to them.
There’s so much pure joy in playing music. It’s one of the most human feelings you can experience. As your child advances, they will require more discipline. In the future, they might prepare for an audition or a performance. They might write a song and record. All of these things are stressful and rewarding. Let your child learn to love the instrument first. They will keep going.
If your child is interested in learning to play the guitar, taking guitar lessons is the best way to help them learn. Search for a guitar teacher now!
Dylan P. teaches in-person guitar, music theory, and music performance lessons in Coram, NY. He has trained in many genres of guitar music and has experience working with students with learning disabilities. Learn more about Dylan P. here!
Photo by CodeFin