(Written by Justin Miller) Learning how to play a musical instrument is a rite of passage for many children. Some parents choose the instrument that their kids will learn to play; other parents leave that decision up to the children. Of course, children’s interests change with the wind. If your child has shown interest in playing the guitar, here’s how to keep him or her interested for the long haul.
- Make cost less of a factor. Consider renting, leasing or buying a used guitar.
While guitars don’t require the financial investment (and space) that a piano requires, the cost of a guitar and required accessories can add up, especially if your family is on a tight budget. If you rent, lease or buy a used instrument, you won’t have to worry about your child losing interest in playing the guitar as much. If a child doesn’t feel pressured into playing an instrument, he or she will be more likely to associate the task with pleasure and be more likely to stick with playing the guitar.
- Make guitar playing part of your child’s routine.
Children thrive in an environment with familiar tasks and stable schedules. For your child, guitar lessons should feel more like a fun activity, like playing in a youth sports league, than something necessary but tedious, like homework.
- Speaking of lessons, there are a variety of choices available.
Private lessons are offered by professional guitar players. If your child is showing serious interest in guitar playing, professional lessons may be a worthwhile investment. If your child is just beginning to show interest in playing the guitar, you can buy books and computer software for use at home. Make sure your child has an area of the home where they can practice undisturbed (and hopefully, without disturbing the rest of the family.)
- Show genuine interest in your child’s guitar playing.
It’s not enough to provide the instrument and lessons. Children need to know you care about the activities they are doing. Ask your child on a regular basis to show off what they have learned, even if it’s just playing simple chords. Encourage them when they get frustrated, which happens with every musician, both budding and professional.
- Keep it fun.
Try games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band (Lego Rock Band for the younger kids). Break out the Wii and make playing music fun for the entire family.
- Send the kids to camp.
Music camp, that is. Consider sending your guitar-obsessed child to a rock music camp like Camp Jam. There are many similar programs offered throughout the country. Not only will kids learn guitar playing techniques, but also how to work with others successfully in a band and how to market themselves.
- Make guitar playing a reward.
Use the opportunity to practice and perform as a reward for completing chores, getting good grades and other examples of good behavior.
- Consider making music a group effort.
Kids can help keep each other motivated. If you have a child that enjoys group activities, consider getting them involved in a musical group in your community. This could be with kids in the neighborhood, a group at church or an organization at a community center, just to name a few opportunities.
- Give your child a break.
Forcing your child to play guitar will likely lead to stubborn resistance. Let your child take some time away from guitar playing, then gently encourage them to return to the instrument.
- Loosen up!
Allow your child to experiment with their guitar playing. It may just sound like “noise” to you but creative expression should be encouraged. Once they’ve practiced their scales and completed their lesson for the day, allow your child to let loose on the guitar and create their own music. This also helps each lesson end on a positive note.
Whether your child is destined to become the next Eric Clapton remains to be seen, but at least you can foster a healthy environment to help your budding musician strum their way to stardom.
Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including guitar lessons online. He writes for JamPlay.com, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ acoustic guitar lessons for beginners in HD.