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What Age is Best to Start Learning Guitar?

February 6, 2023

What Age is Best to Start Learning Guitar?

Is there a best age for learning guitar? We asked guitar teacher Linda L., who has taught young children, teens, adults, and seniors for her take…

My opinion on the best age to learn guitar has evolved over the years.

I started teaching myself to play the guitar at the age of 14. The book that I used to teach myself featured photos of a 7-year-old girl demonstrating how each chord was to be played. The author of the book told the readers that he had this young student of his demonstrate the fingerings so that no teen or adult learning from this book could think that their hands were too small to play a full-sized guitar. I was left with the impression that 7 is a good age at which to start learning to play the guitar.

I have been teaching students of a wide range of ages to play the guitar for well over 25 years now. The youngest guitar student I ever had was 6, and, although he might have been old enough to learn to play the guitar, especially given that he was starting with a smaller, child-sized guitar, this particular child was not mature enough to follow my directions or stay focused long enough to learn.

What age is the best age to learn guitar? This is a question that many aspiring guitar players ask themselves at one point or another. The answer, of course, depends on your individual circumstances. 

However, in this blog post we will explore some of the pros and cons of different ages for learning the instrument. So, whether you’re a teenager or adult considering taking up guitar lessons, read on to find out what might be the best age for you!

 Is Learning Guitar Hard?

Guitar can be hard to learn at first, but it’s easier the longer you stick with it – and if you follow these tips:

  • Take the time to warm-up and cool down to make playing guitar easier on your hands
  • Work on your form and technique
  • Master basic guitar chords first
  • Learn how to read guitar sheet music and tabs
  • Regularly practice guitar scales and arpeggios 
  • Understand music theory

One of the best tips for learning guitar at any age? Hire a guitar teacher! They’ll walk you through the ropes so you know exactly what you should be achieving in your practice sessions. 

Here’s an example of what you might cover in a guitar class:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwPswoolmz0 

What Age is Too Young to Learn Guitar?

You might be curious about the best age for a child to learn guitar. I’ll answer that question with a quick anecdote. 

A few years ago, I had a mother tell me that her 5-year-old son was really interested in learning to play the guitar. Remembering my experience with the 6 year old, I told her that I thought her son was still a bit too young for guitar lessons. However, it occurred to me, sometime later, that instead of suggesting that her son wait a couple of years (or maybe start with piano in the meantime), I could have suggested that she get her son a ukulele to start with, as a smaller and easier to learn, but similar instrument.

About a year after that, I volunteered for “Girl’s Rock Camp”, in Atlanta, and I discovered that some of the guitar instructors there taught the beginning guitarists to play with the guitar tuned to an open chord, so that all they had to do, for the purposes of the camp, was learn to strum! It was a brilliant, yet simple way to allow girls who had never picked up a guitar before to learn to play a song with a band, in just one week! These girls were ages 10 through 16, but this would work as a starting point with much younger children too.

And then, just last night, I discovered some videos of a talented young banjo player, now age 14 and performing professionally on a regular basis, who started lessons at the age of 4!

So obviously, the best age to start learning guitar really does vary. It depends on the maturity, skills, and interest level of the kids involved. You’ll need to assess this on an individualized basis (I’ll give you more tips to help you do this below). 

What Age is Too Late to Learn Guitar?

Can you be too old to learn guitar? No – the best age to learn guitar is, again, highly individualized. 

Some older adult students have asked me, “Am I too old to start learning to play the guitar (or banjo)?” My answer to that is, “You’re never too old to learn to play an instrument!” Playing the guitar (or other musical instrument) brings joy to people of all ages. I have taught beginners who were retirees in their 60s, and some of them have become great guitarists! Students who are really enthusiastic and persistent, and willing to spend the time practicing, can learn at any age.

What is the Best Age to Learn Guitar?

Now, when asked, “What is the best age to start learning to play the guitar?” I would say that there is no universal “best” age; it really depends on the individual child, teen, or adult. A child as young as 4, or an adult of any age can begin to learn, if they are really motivated and have a patient, creative, and devoted teacher!

Looking back, I wish I had not simply told the mother of the 5 year old boy that he was too young to learn guitar. I just hadn’t thought enough about all the ways there are to play the guitar (e.g., percussive guitar, slide guitar, open tunings), or alternatives, such as a ukulele,, in terms of teaching young children to play. Also, the lack of hand and finger strength in a small child, that might cause a teacher to look for alternative ways of playing for the youngest beginners, might also be the case for adults with arthritis, in which case the same solutions would apply.

A 4 year old child is not too young to learn guitar, an 84 year-old adult is not too old to begin, and I’m not too old to learn to be a better teacher!

What is the Best Age to Learn Guitar? 

Here are a few guidelines to follow if you’re trying to figure out the best age to learn guitar (or really, any other instrument, for that matter). 

Interest Level

This is the most important variable to consider when determining whether someone is ready to start learning guitar. How interested are they? If your child shows a strong interest in playing the guitar from an early age, don’t worry too much about the age on the calendar. Get them signed up for guitar lessons! 

Ability to Focus

How well can you (or your child) focus? A student should be able to focus for at least half an hour in order to start seeing results from his or her guitar lessons.

Motivation to Practice

How motivated are you to practice? Jamming out and playing along to your favorite tunes is one thing, but you aren’t going to sound very good unless you take the time to work on the “boring stuff” – you know, mastering chords, arpeggios, scales, and so on. 

Time to Practice

How much time do you have to practice? If your schedule is already super packed and you barely have time to even sleep, then now might not be the best time to start learning how to play guitar. Wait for your schedule to free up before you make this commitment. 

Dexterity 

This is a big one for people of all ages – show dexterity are your fingers? It can become especially challenging to practice guitar if you’re very young or very old, as your dexterity isn’t the best at these times. However, it’s also very individualized, so it’s hard to say whether two four year olds will have the same amount of dexterity and can learn how to play the guitar (and the same goes for two sixty year olds!). 

Maturity Levels

Finally, know that age shouldn’t be the primary factor involved in determining when your child can and should learn how to play the guitar. Some kids are much more mature than others (and vice versa)  – and a kid (or adult) needs to have the maturity necessary to listen to his teachers and take direction as needed.

Can I Learn Guitar in 3 Months? 

You can learn guitar in three months of dedicated practice – if you’re able to commit hours every week to practicing and learning new techniques, you should be able to develop your skills quite significantly in just a few months. Most people will take longer–  up to two years – to become proficient players. It really depends on your skill level, interests, and time commitment.

And what’s the best age to learn guitar?

If you’re looking for the best age to start learning guitar, we’ve got good news – there is no “best” age. You can start learning at any time and see great results. 

However, if you want to make the most of your guitar lessons, here are a few tips that will help you get started. First, find a teacher who understands how to teach beginners and can adapt their lessons accordingly. Second, practice regularly; even ten or fifteen minutes each day will make a big difference over time. 

Third, be patient! Learning an instrument takes time and practice so don’t get discouraged if it feels like you aren’t making progress as quickly as you would like. Be patient with yourself – you’ll see major results in time.

Linda-with-12-String-close-up

Linda L. teaches piano, guitar, songwriting, and more in Tucker, GA. She has more than 30 years of experience as a music teacher, for both private lessons and classes. Learn more about Linda here!

 

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Suzy S.