Parent article: Guitar Lessons for Kids
Danielle has a degree in publican health education from James Madison University and has been in professional childcare for over 20 years.
Is it too early for my five year old to start taking guitar lessons?
We've said the ideal age to start guitar lessons is seven. But what about starting earlier? Maybe you have a five year old that wants to start taking lessons or just enjoys playing around with the guitar.
We'll address that specific age, since it's a commonly asked question, and many parents are looking to get their kids into an instrument as they start kindergarten.
First, I'll address the question broadly, then try to get into some of the specific things to look at and situational issues that should be considered.
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The General Answer
In most cases we'd argue five years old is too early to start organized, formal guitar lessons. While developmental milestones of a five year old often allow them to sit for longer periods of time, their fine motor skills - and the muscles that handle them - are still just learning the basics of every day life.
How to use a fork and spoon, how to zip a zipper, and how to button a shirt are all still somewhat new and can be challenging at this age.
Guitar requires fine motor skills to be a bit more advanced.
For this reason, we'd recommend waiting to have your five year old to start taking guitar lessons.
Plenty of Variables
However, we should also point out that there are always situational concerns associated with this question.
Kids and families are all different, which means a single-answer approach to any one child's education (guitar or otherwise) is usually not adequate. We'll cover some of the nuance here.
Let's start with a rather obvious one.
Most kids have short attentions spans, but it's also true that five is an age where kids start to develop an ability to sit for longer periods of time and hone in on specific topics. The technical estimate is around 15 minutes, give or take.
Simply put: You should notice their concentration improving.
However, this will vary from child to child, even within families.
For example, our four year old tends to have a longer attention span than our seven year old. Now it's true that the seven year old is advanced in other areas, but having the ability to concentrate - at least for awhile - is an important part of being able to sit down and take guitar lessons.
Most five year olds are just getting into a stage where they can concentrate. Even then, it's highly dependent on the topic at hand, whether or not it interests them.
And speaking of being interested in things:
Despite being the simplest way to predict a child's success, the interest they show on their own is something that often goes unnoticed or even ignored by parents.
It's important to understand that just because you took an interest in something, doesn't necessarily mean that your kids will follow suit. This comes out often in sports, where parents can put pressure on their kids, even at a young age, regardless of how much interest that child shows in a particular sport.
The same goes for learning guitar, or any instrument.
Key in to your child's interest, even at five years old. You can ask them, sure, but it's more important to just pay attention to what you see them show an interest in and what kind of person they are.
If they aren't showing an interest in guitar at five years old, it's best not to force the experience on them.
More on Fine Motor Skills
We mentioned fine motor skills earlier, but this is an area where kids can continue to differ significantly.
For example, my four-year old - who attends pre-kindergarten - has trouble gripping a pencil, which is something his teacher has helped him work on. In that regard he's "behind the curve" compared to other kids.
It's not a bad thing or huge problem, but it would make something like learning the guitar a little more frustrating for him.
We've said that despite having a better attention span, his motor skills should be allowed to develop more before we try and get him into an instrument.
Other Resources for Kids Learning Guitar
We've published a lot of content over the years designed to help kids learn guitar, all of which is helpful to parents who are researching the topic. In this section, I'll link to some of those resources for follow-up reading:
While we'd argue that five is too young for taking guitar lessons, I've also taken care to acknowledge some of the variables that can come up, yet I can't predict or cover them all.
If you have questions about learning guitar as it relates to this article, perhaps something I didn't cover, feel free to leave that question in the comments section below.
As always, I'm happy to jump in and help as much as I can. I'll see you there.