Playing an instrument offers a lifetime of fun and learning! Children benefit greatly from musical education in both cognition and reasoning. These benefits carry over to school and achieving greater success in all areas, especially math. However, sometimes with children, getting them to do what is best for them is difficult. Here we’ll offer some advice on the best approach to practicing guitar with your child to reduce potential stress and keep your child motivated.
Start With the Basics
To start with, it’s important to choose the right guitar for your child. There are many guitar sizes available to fit smaller bodies: 1/4 size, 1/2 size, and 3/4 size guitars are great for children four to eleven years, or full size for ages twelve and up. It’s crucial to find an appropriate size, as playing a guitar which is too large can be painful for children’s hands and arms, leading to significant frustration.
You also need the right guitar teacher – someone who will understand that children learn differently than adults, and that the lessons need to remain interesting and fun over time, and not just for the first lesson. A teacher who can consistently choose interesting yet challenging guitar songs for kids will motivate your child to love the guitar. A highly motivated child will be likely to succeed in the face of a less than wonderful teacher, but no one can be highly motivated all the time, so it’s important for the teacher to be engaged and consistent even when your child isn’t.
Motivate Your Child
The largest hurdle you and your child will likely need to overcome is how to remain motivated in the face of sustained practice. There are ways you can support your child more effectively, and avoid the power struggles and stress that can easily take over.
Avoid bribing your child by rewarding practices with other activities- such as TV- or with gifts, which can lead the child to believe that learning is only a means to an end, lacking its own inherent value. Also refrain from punishing a child who refuses to practice, as this leads to conflating practice with chores and duties.
If practicing isn’t interesting to your child it’s very important to understand why. Perhaps the materials need to change. For example, finding more suitable guitar songs for kids. Or, perhaps support is needed for difficulties, or your child is not getting enough feedback about the successes and progress they have made. Make efforts to understand and adapt, and you will surely find your child more willing to practice guitar.
Timing and Length
Children are typically less likely to be aware of the long term gains they reap from their efforts in any area. When the dream of becoming a famous guitarist falls away, more abstract benefits may fail to motivate a child who is struggling. Focus on validating and supporting your child’s short term goals, while ensuring that the material your child is learning is appropriate.
It is far less important to have practiced for a certain length of time than it is to have learned something in a certain amount of time. When your child is given homework from their teacher, focus on helping them achieve excellence in a small portion of that material at a time. For example, ask them to practice until they can play eight bars of a song perfectly three times. This method encourages the child to feel good about playing well, and not feel burdened by learning too much at once, or having to play long after they are bored. A practice session which begins with learning and ends with success is highly valuable.
Shorter, more focused practices lead to a more confident child, and less struggle for parents. If your child practices a specific portion of their homework each day until you and they can see some progress, skill building will become natural and require far less struggle to achieve.
Finding Great Guitar Songs for Kids
Times have changed! Most children learning instruments today are going to be put off by having to blunder through “Mary Had a Little Lamb” before they can move on to modern popular songs.
A teacher who can gear material to your child’s interests and age is necessary if you want your child to be invested in their own learning. An instructor’s ability to find guitar songs for kids which are both relevant to your child and at the appropriate skill level is invaluable.
Keeping a child focused over the years it takes to master an instrument can be challenging. Remember to begin well with the proper sized guitar and a compatible teacher. Keeping practices low-stress and focusing on achievements instead of time are solid ways to ensure success.
Ready to start your child’s musical journey? Find a great guitar teacher for your child today!
Photo by Gianni Sarti