The Ultimate Parent's Guide to Kid's Guitar Lessons

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I am Kale Good, a Philadelphia-based Classical Guitarist and professional Guitar Teacher. I've been teaching guitar lessons to kids in Philadelphia since 2006.You can read more about me here.

In this round-up blog post, you'll find everything you'll need to know to get your child started with guitar lessons. 

I've organized topics in the order that you'll want to know them. I start off with links to all the "pre-lesson" questions and end by answering question that you'll have after you start lessons.

These articles are ones I point my own students and parents to as they navigate guitar lessons for their child.

If you work through this guide, you will be incredibly well-prepared once your child begins guitar lessons.

How much do Kid's guitar lessons cost?

Generally speaking, the price for private kids guitar lessons varies from $25-$75 per half-hour lesson. The price of kids guitar lessons can cover a wide range depending on many factors. The two biggest factors are the cost of living in your area and the experience level of your teacher. To read more about what to expect and look out for at each price point (including the dangers of working with an expensive professional guitarist), you can read this article

The truth is that many inexperienced teachers are unaware of the expenses that go into teaching, and thus price their lessons too low. I did this when I first started teaching, finding students off of Craigslist. Because of this, you may be able to get an amazingly low price from a recent college graduate.

However, these bargin-basement prices come with a hidden cost; one that most parents never even realize; the teachers just aren't that good (they might be good with a few more years of experience!). After a year or two, their kids quit and the parents assume it was inevitable and that music wasn't for their child. Really, though, the problem was the teacher. 

Even with mid-priced lessons from a local music store, you run the risk of high staff turnover. Constantly changing teachers will be incredibly detrimental to your child's motivation and progress.

My recommendation is ask around on pricing and find a mid-to-high priced independent teacher who was been teaching for 5-7 years.

Not sure what instrument your child should play?

Check out my guide on picking what instrument your child should play.

How Do I find The Best Guitar Teacher for my child?

Work your network. Ask another music teacher you know. Look online. If you're brand-new to music lessons, make sure you do free trial lessons with 4-5 different teachers before starting. You see, many people take guitar lessons with the first or second guitar they meet with. But, the truth is, if you find the right teacher, you'll know it right away. 

In fact, just this past week (I'm going to toot my own horn here), I did two free trial lessons and both parents immediately told me I was an incredible teacher. While that's fairly common now, it was rare when I first started. 

Most people think that a nice teacher who is friendly and fun is all it takes. It isn't. For more specifics on how to find the best guitar teacher for your child, read this article.

How much Does a kid's Guitar Cost?

Generally speaking, expect to pay anywhere from $150-$650 for a child's guitar, whether fractional or full-sized. Below $120, instruments are often of such poor quality that they don't stay in-tune through a lesson or practice session. These low quality instruments guarantee that your child will sound terrible no matter how hard they try. This will hurt their confidence and contribute to a desire to quit.


Playable guitars begin at about the $150 price-point; these are phenomenal instruments, but they also won't raise the ire of your teacher by making the learning process more difficult.


In the $250-400 range you will begin to find instruments that are noticeably better and more enjoyable to play; they play easier, have a bigger, fuller tone, and sustain notes for longer.


In the $500+ range, you begin to get guitars that are high quality. Some of these may even be hand-built by master guitar makers, like these amazing Benjamin Garcias guitars. In this price range, you'll find instruments that sound amazing. They will produce a tone beautiful enough to satisfy any serious player, even if they are fractional guitars. When my students are old enough to warrant a full-sized guitar, I encourage them to purchase something in this price range (and I would love it if all my students played Benjamin Gacrias guitars).


For even more detail on this topic, read my article on how much kids guitars cost.


What Size Guitar Does My Child Need?

This is fairly simple to determine. Many websites give an age-range for guitar sizes. However, any observant parent knows that kids can grow at incredibly different rates. Additionally, unlike violins, there is no standard size for fractional guitars (think 1/4, 1/2, 3/4-sized guitars), so 1/4-sized guitars from two different manufacturers can be pretty different in size. So these charts can be pretty far off.


It's far better to use this calculator to find the best size for your child's guitar. All you have to do is measure the height of your child's belly button. The chart at the bottom of the page can help you find a guitar.

What Other Gear do I need for my Child's First Guitar Lesson?

Most teachers will expect you to have a guitar, a music stand, a metronome, a tuner, and the method book they'll be using (if any). However, it can vary a bit from teacher to teacher. ut it really depends on what your teacher says. It depends on what your teacher says. Here is the list I give my students:

  • guitar, with case to protect it
  • a chair that fits the child
  • a foot stool or guitar support for better posture
  • the Suzuki Guitar Method Book and Recordings
  • a tuner

(Due to the unique nature of the Suzuki Method, I don't require my students to get a metronome or music stand until later)
For a thorough explanation and recommendations, you can read this article on essential kid's guitar lesson gear.

What can I expect at my child's first guitar lesson?

Most teachers and many guitar schools offer a free trial lesson for new students. This is a great opportunity to learn about a teacher's abilities and personality. You'll want to assess their ability to connect, communicate, and lead your child through the lesson. Exactly what goes into a first or free guitar lesson can vary greatly from teacher-to-teacher and student-to-student. 


How old does my child need to be to start music lessons?

Most teachers start at 5. Some well-trained and experienced teachers will start as young as 3. You can read more about it here. Regardless of what age your child starts at, it is important to remember that we do not wonder when Usain Bolt first learned to walk, when Simone Biles first jumped, or when Maya Angelou spoke her first words. It is a well-known fact that children develop at different rates. Students who appear to be slow learns often rocket through later material. This becomes more and more important the younger your child starts. 

How long and how often should my child practice guitar for?

This depends a lot on your child's age and experience. A general rule of thumb is that practice should be 2-4x your child's age. Practice needs to be a minimum of 5 days a week for steady progress to be made. Skipping days is very detrimental. 

However, one of the most important things about practice is that quality is better than quantity. I've had kids repeat the same mistake for 15 minutes because their parents told them they needed to practice or 15 minutes; removing the 15 minute requirement solved that problem and many more. 

You can read more about children's attention spans, professional practices, and use a practice-time calculator to find your optimal times here.

How can I motivate my child to practice?

Both young and old guitar students need to completely understand what they are supposed to be playing. This means both regularly listening to a recording of their performance piece (ideally, they should be able to sing the piece) and ensuring that they completely understand the teacher's practice instructions. For younger guitar students, that means parents taking clear and precise notes during the lesson. 

Beyond that, social, performance, and aspirational experiences are key to maintaining motivation. While the lines between these are not 100% clear, I provide some examples below. Generally speaking, examples earlier in the list are better for smaller kids, while later examples are better as kids age.

Social: Suzuki-Style Group class (especially mixed ability levels), recitals of more experienced kids, community orchestras (classical guitar), jazz band, band with friends. 

Performanceperformance for stuffed animals, performance for immediate family, performance for household guests and extended family, studio recitals (aka teacher recitals), performances outside of the home & studio. 

Aspirational: Seeing more experienced guitarists play. For the youngest kids, group classes with mixed ability level can provide this. Attending other student recitals is also motivational. As your child ages, taking them to see professional guitarist's can be a big motivator. 

Of course, how you communicate with them is also essential. And, if you're trying to help your child practice, use games like the ones listed here and here. You can read about why music practice is boring for kids and what to do about it here.

Where Can I find the Best Kid's Guitar Lessons?

You're in the right place. For more information about the best kid's guitar lessons online and in the Philadelphia area, read this page

Select Testimonials

Emily Collier

Parent 

Our older kid has been taking lessons with Kale Good for 3 years now, and our younger could not be more excited to start this week. Both my husband and I are classically trained, former-professional musicians, and we can say hands-down that Kale is the best music teacher we've ever encountered, anywhere... 

Ted Wongcini

parent

Kale is a fantastic teacher. He seems to know how to attune to each kid, figuring out the balance of challenging and reassuring his students. His lessons have helped our daughter grow tremendously, especially her confidence. We highly recommend Kale.


Complete testimonials here.

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