You might be asking yourself if there is a right age to begin playing the guitar. You might be wondering if you can be too old or too young to be a guitar player. You might be curious to learn how to play guitar but feel like you are not of the right age.
However, the guitar’s popularity spans all generations. The youngest of beginner guitar players can get to grips with the fretboard as well as an older player can. And an older player can nail fingerstyle or jazz guitar just as well as any younger person. With the ease of things like online guitar lessons or video lessons, there is no need to be intimidated by the musical instrument – no matter what age you are at.
Whatever your age, career, or background, the guitar is an integral part of most people’s musical heritage, and learning to play should therefore be within everybody’s reach. You’re never too old to pick up your first guitar; and you’re never too young to try out some guitar chords.
Even at an early age, the guitar holds a certain fascination: we want to play our favorite songs, we want to imitate great guitarists like Jimmy Hendrix , Slash of Guns’n’Roses or Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin or David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.
Musical legends like these inspire us, show us that anyone has the potential to be a guitar prodigy, and tell their story through a combination of music and raw emotions. But don’t be paralysed by their impressive guitar solos: let them inspire you to be the best guitar player you can be and to play songs that you love.
We want history to repeat itself for us, and hope to step into our hero’s shoes; but is this dream reserved for children and teenagers? Can only youngsters sign up to a guitar lesson or guitar course to learn how to play the guitar? (The answer, by the way, is a big fat ‘no’.)
At what age should you start to learn to play the guitar? Do you have to wait until you have mastered the basics of music theory? Can I start with the classical guitar or are acoustic guitars best? And what about electric guitars? When is the best time to practice? When is it right to start guitar lessons?
The answer is obvious, you can play guitar at any age, either as an amateur or a professional.
If you have the motivation, the will, and the desire to play the guitar, then this is the right time. Once you have it, nothing can stop you or come between you and your instrument. Can you see yourself running up and down the pentatonic? Can you see yourself chugging out power chords or articulating intricate chord progressions?
You can learn whatever guitar tricks and techniques you want – at whatever age. However, the time it takes you to learn will depend on the level of your motivation. That’s it: it’s motivation that matters, not age!
You can learn guitar at any age!
Obviously, a child or adolescent has a greater capacity for memorization and will find it easier than an adult to learn this second musical language.
The world of music, particularly that of the guitar, is a unique one with its own notes, solfeggi, rhythms and technical vocabulary.
A good way to learn is through classes – such as bass guitar lessons or lessons on the acoustic guitar.
That being said, even if you do not learn everything by heart, the two main elements that have to be committed to memory is how to play and coordinate the main chords.
Learning the correct finger placement and stringing together the first chords is difficult before the age of 6 or 7.
After that, you should take into account that playing and learning guitar takes time, and nothing happens overnight. As with learning anything, you will have to spend many hours on your guitar to create the sounds you want.
Little ones can start guitar from a very early age!
Any budding little musician must be able to concentrate for a minimum of about 20 minutes a day. The maturity of the child will therefore be a factor in their ability to learn the guitar.
A part of the child’s free time will need to be dedicated to guitar practice. If the child lacks the freedom to play outside of practice hours they will struggle to learn and will reject the instrument if they feel forced to learn it.
The guitar is often perceived as an excellent extra-curricular activity for children: it can be a good way to let off steam after school and can introduce them to a wider social group.
The guitar is quite an easy instrument to pick up and children are usually surprised by how quickly they can play their first songs. A guitar teacher can accompany even young children in discovering the instrument through guitar lessons.
Whatever the style (rock, blues, country, jazz or classical), the available repertoire is varied and rich enough to capture a child’s imagination and open their cultural and musical horizon to sounds they would not have imagined.
Naturally, these discoveries are only possible if the child is willing to learn and is not being pushed into it by their parents.
People normally decide to learn guitar as teenagers as it is an excellent means of self-expression, but this urge is not rare in adults or even older people.
There are many reasons for this: some have only just considered the possibility, some have long harbored the ambition but have not had the time to explore it, and are only just now ready to take the plunge and enjoy themselves.
Whatever the reason, a growing number of adults are picking up a guitar for the first time.
Other technical reasons could account for why teenagers and adults embark on this musical adventure: although children are more likely to retain the basics of music, they may struggle with the technical side. Knowing how to combine chords, place your fingers, vary the rhythm with your left hand, strum with your hand or a plectrum, can prove difficult for smaller hands.
For adults the physical difficulty is greatly reduced.
If you want your child to learn the guitar as soon as possible, why not encourage their musical discovery?
Learning to play guitar requires maturity, both physiologically and mentally, but also in terms of discipline.
Music and guitar practice must remain enjoyable.
If the child is not willing, the experience will be a negative one, and there is little chance that they will return to the guitar later.
Discovering music is an excellent way to let the child take the time to learn when they are ready.
It can begin at home, with the parents helping them discover new musical worlds, different sounds, different genres (world music, children’s songs, classical music, blues, etc.)
The child can then try small instruments and the adult can see if the child has an interest in the music: do they sing or dance, do they mime playing along (especially with a guitar)? These many paths could all potentially lead to the child learning the instrument for real.
Guitar professionals, teachers in music schools, associations, cultural centers or even independent teachers have often been posed the same question: what is the right age to start the guitar? Can my 8-year-old get involved? Should I wait until he is a teenager?
Even if a 7-year-old child is open to learning guitar and music in general, around the time they are learning to read and write, the instrument does have constraints that may be affected by age.
A guitar must be handled correctly to be played well.
It requires a small amount of finger strength to apply the correct pressure on the strings with the left hand, and coordination to keep the correct rhythm with the right.
What is the right guitar for your age?
For 4-6 year olds, a ¼ guitar with a length of 40 cm is recommended.
For the 7-8 years old, a ½ (semi-guitar) guitar with 48 cm of strings is sufficient.
For 8-10 years, the ¾ guitar is very suitable. From the age of 11 into adulthood, a full size guitar (4/4) is perfect, with a string length of 65 cm.
If your child is not certain of their choice you may opt to rent a guitar. Rental prices are around $20 per month with a deposit of approximately $80.
For those wishing to buy, prices start at around $100, but for a good quality solid wood instrument it may be between $200 -$500. Higher prices are to be expected for the guitars sought by connoisseurs and true enthusiasts.
Choosing the right size of guitar is essential.
As you can see, there is no correct age to take guitar lessons for beginners. If you are exposed to music from an early age it will be a part of your world, and there are ways to begin learning guitar from an early age.
Teenagers and adults have no such obstacles; if they are motivated, rigorous, attentive, disciplined, they can begin learning guitar or take lessons at any age.
For those unsure if they are ready to embark on their guitar adventure, music schools, associations and cultural centers regularly hold information sessions on such instruments, often organized by other students. These meetings allow you to discover the instrument, ask your questions to teachers – such as how long it will take you to learn to play, and to listen to other student guitarists.