Children's Guitar Lessons: Facts & Ideas
Expert advice and interesting facts
- Guitars were first played in Spain in the 14th century where they developed out of an instrument called a ‘vihuela’. The first music for the guitar was published in 1546.
- Early guitars had three double sets of strings and one single string, but now guitars have six single or double sets of strings. At first, guitar strings were made of animal guts, but in 1946 guitar makers started using nylon instead.
- Guitars are made and repaired by luthiers.
- There are two major types of guitars: Acoustic guitar and electric guitar.
- The most expensive guitar sold at auction was a Fender Stratocaster guitar that had been signed by a host of music legends. It fetched US $2.7 million (then £1.6 million) at a charity auction in 2005. Stars who signed the guitar included Bryan Adams, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page and Brian May.
- The smallest replica guitar was based on a Fender Stratocaster, carved from a block of silicon and measured ten micrometers long or 1/20 the thickness of a human hair (the size of a human blood cell!) It was made in 1997 by scientists at the Cornell University, New York. Each of its six strings were only 0.05 mm thick (equivalent to 100 atoms laid end to end!). When plucked, the strings vibrated, but at frequencies 1,000 times higher than the human ear can pick up.
- The longest marathon playing guitar by an individual is 114 hours 6 minutes 30 seconds and was achieved by David Browne at the Temple Bar Pub, Dublin, Ireland in June 2011.
- The largest guitar ensemble was achieved by 6,346 participants in Poland on 1st May 2009.
How to pick a guitar teacher for your child
What should you be thinking about to help you choose the right guitar teacher for your child?
- Does your child want to play the guitar ‘just for fun’ or would they like to take exams? Can the teacher accommodate either of these?
- Do you have to buy a guitar for your child straight away or are instruments available to borrow short term until you and your child are sure they want to continue with lessons?
- Do you need to buy music books or are these included in the price of the lessons? Do these need to be purchased in advance?
- Do you have to commit to booking a term of lessons or can you pay half-termly?
National associations & clubs
There are three examination boards accredited by Ofqual that offer guitar exams. These are:
Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music – an internationally recognised education body based in London that provides examinations in music.
Trinity Guildhall -Trinity College London
LCM Examinations – a department of the London College of Music within the University of West London.
Qualifications & exams
Examinations are open to all. There are no minimum age restrictions and the choice of learning material is intended to appeal to candidates of all ages. However, in practice, whilst candidates of all ages enter for Initial Stage to Grade 5 examinations, it is unlikely that candidates below the age of 16 will possess the musical maturity for success at Grades 6-8.
Graded Examinations in Acoustic Guitar: Likely age groups
7 - 18+yrs old Initial stage & Preliminary
10 – 18+yrs old Grade 1-3
13 – 18+yrs old Grade 4-5
16 – 18+yrs old Grade 6-8
(From the LCM syllabus for acoustic guitar)
Qualifications of tutors/coaches etc
There is no minimum qualification required to teach music at home. However, passing grade 8 practical and at least grade 5 theory will indicate an acceptable level of competence regarding playing ability and musical knowledge. A Music Degree would be advantageous.
Learning from the activity
- Fine motor skills
The guitar has always been considered the cool instrument; by learning to play a guitar, a teenager may find a way to ‘fit in.’
Tony Blair (born May 6, 1953) plays the electric guitar. The former Labour prime minister fronted a student band called Ugly Rumours while at Oxford University. Among his favourite songs are ‘That'll Be The Day’, ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and ‘Blueberry Hill’.
Actor Jonny Depp (born June 9, 1963) received a guitar from his mother when he was 12 and started playing in bands. He dropped out of school to follow his dream of becoming a rock musician and enjoyed some success before he became an actor.
Actor Kevin Bacon (born July 8, 1958) plays the guitar with his older brother Michael, calling themselves "The Bacon Brothers".
Cbeebies and ‘I Can Cook’ presenter Katy Ashworth (born Sept 8, 1988) plays the acoustic guitar.
Australian actor Russell Crowe (born April 7, 1964) famous for films such as Gladiator and Robin Hood, has performed lead vocals and played the guitar for various bands since the 1980s.
There are, of course, thousands of celebrated guitarists. Some of our favourites are Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richard, Mark Knopfler and The Edge.
I’m Yours. This is a must-see video of a child playing the guitar and singing Jason Mraz - I’m Yours. (Actually we think it’s a ukulele, not a guitar, but it still is very sweet!!)
Sungha Jung (born in South Korea Sept 2nd 1996) didn’t start to learn the guitar until the age of 10. Now he is a You Tube phenomenon! He typically takes three days to learn and practice a new piece and video-record it for upload onto YouTube. You never know what those music lessons might lead to! Here Sungha has arranged and played "Someone Like You" by Adele.
Why don’t girls play guitar? This article discusses which instruments are favoured by which sex and some of the reasons why.