Learning to play guitar is a great adventure that will expose you to new musical horizons. Being a guitar player is more than just knowing how to play guitar; it demonstrates commitment, passion, great musicianship, and, honestly, being able to play songs is an incredible skill.
However, the question of when to practice the instrument is always key. Are you ever too old to play the guitar? Or, indeed, can you be too young to understand the fretboard or tablature, to be able to play guitar solos or power chords, to get your head around fingerpicking or the pentatonic scale?
You may well feel that your kid is too young to play guitar. Yet, as long as they are simply big enough to hold a guitar, any beginner guitar player – of any age – can become, with a guitar teacher and plenty of practice, one of the best guitarists in the world.
The usual questions: Can your 10 year-old play the guitar without prior knowledge of music theory? Will they just be too small to play guitar chords? At that age, will they even want to learn how to play the guitar?
Practice guitar at any age!
Whatever style of guitar you want to learn, blues, classical, rock, or funk; whether you want to play solo or in a band; whether you want music lessons, enroll in an academy, or you just want to attend occasional workshops at a club; the answer is the same, you can learn guitar at any age.
At 8, 12, 20, 45 or 60 years old, you can learn to play the guitar whenever you want as soon as you decide to do so. So, without further ado, let’s get you playing your first guitar, equip you with some guitar tricks, and sit you down for your first guitar practice.
Wanting to learn the guitar is not enough on its own, you must also know how you will acquire all this knowledge, both the theoretical (solfège, reading notes, reading scores, tablatures) and the practical (left and right handed techniques, plucking, tapping, playing with pick, etc.).
Don’t worry about it too much. We’d suggest getting yourself to a guitar lesson, if you are really serious about playing that new guitar, but there are plenty of options for free guitar online lessons too. The choice is yours!
Depending on your personality, one method will appeal to you more than others. There are several ways to learn this instrument, and according to your level, your availability, and your budget, you will choose a different place to be taught the guitar.
Whichever you choose, let’s ensure you get the best guitar teaching for you. You’ll be learning your barre chords, your rhythm guitar, guitar tabs, chord progressions, and ear training no matter where you’ll be – but the trick is to make sure that the guitar instruction is good enough to make you want to keep going.
One of the most prestigious places is an academy: the admission conditions are quite strict since everything is done on examination, and the course fees may vary according to your location and income. The guitar lessons are very academic and you can acquire the full basics of music theory that will push you to a professional level if that is your aim. You should start in an academy at an early age as the learning is done in cycles over several years.
Expect to come out with a technical expertise – nailing everything from fingerstyle, classical guitar techniques, and chromatic exercises – as well as a thorough understanding of theory: everything from the basic guitar theory of the major scale and minor scale, up through arpeggios to the advanced knowledge beyond.
You’ll get a solid foundation in everything to do with the guitar.
You could also learn guitar in a music school: there are both private and public schools, suitable for young children as well as teenagers, adults, and the retired.
Learn guitar at a conservatory
Teaching is done according to a pre-established methodology and taught by a certified teacher. The guitar is taught weekly (between 45 mins to1 hour per week) and balances musical training with practice, the theory of the guitar chord with fun songs to play, blues guitar and rock guitar with dexterity training and guitar technique.
If you’re not into music theory, clubs, cultural centers and other associations in your neighborhood offer guitar lessons, workshops and intensive courses. You will be able to learn the basics of the guitar with a teacher or develop your skills if you are already a seasoned guitarist.
The advantages of this type of teaching is that you do not need to know much theory (even if you will have to learn tablatures and to decipher a chord chart and a score for the rhythms) and that gives you a certain freedom in how you choose to learn.
Hire a guitar instructor for lesson help
The teacher will adapt to your requirements and you will be able to specialize in a particular musical style: if you want to learn the basics of rock and pop, you can join up with a specialized teacher. If you want to be the next Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton, then you’ll receive the training to help you get there; if you want to learn jazz guitar, blues licks, or slide guitar, you’ll also find the support you need.
If you’ve been practicing the guitar for a while and have taken a break, this type of structure is perfect to get you back on track. It’s certainly better than online guitar lessons, which do not give you commitment and personal support that you might need to rediscover your passion.
Remember that learning the guitar is easy, easier than learning other instruments.
Another solution is to take private lessons with an independent teacher – by searching for guitar lessons for beginners on the Internet or directly with Superprof. Beginner guitar lessons are really important if you want to start off with great technique.
You can learn from home with a professional – either with video lessons on Skype or in person – who will adapt to your needs and your level.
One of the advantages with this type of learning is the relationship you can form with your teacher: not only will they survey your technical progress, but they will also introduce you to new music, and help you discover sounds you would not consider on your own. They can help you learn your favorite songs as well as get to grips with open chords, other basic chords, and some tasty guitar licks.
It is the chance to build a bond with another guitar enthusiast – and for them to share with you their favourite guitar songs.
Finally, you could try learning alone, using eBooks, online videos, a metronome, or following a guitar course online from home.
This is a great way to get started and learn the basics, from finger placement to your first chords. However, it will be difficult to get to grips with all the concepts of lead guitar or fingerstyle guitar if you do not have the support of even a video lesson.
(By the way, most Superprof tutors offer one-off free guitar lessons to new customers!)
Of course, in the right conditions you can practice the guitar at any age.
You may encounter some physical challenges as you learn to play.
Playing guitar means moving your hands and fingers in new ways, which has to be learnt until it becomes second nature – until it becomes part of your muscle memory. Your movements must be fluid, efficient, fast, and accurate.
You will find you use your whole body, especially your hands, arms, forearms, shoulders, and elbows – even in the most simple chord progression.
If you want to learn the guitar, be aware that you will have to work with your body, muscles, nerves and brain.
Play guitar while staying focused.
You need to practice each movement with care and concentration, while keeping all your muscles as relaxed as possible to handle your guitar smoothly.
If you aren’t relaxed when you play your guitar will not sound right. You’ll struggle to hold even a simple major chord for too long, whilst the guitar basics of technique will seem much more difficult.
Adults and the elderly in particular struggle with tension when they learn, due to the build-up of stress from external responsibilities in their private and professional life.
To become a good guitarist, play the guitar music you like, develop a particular style like blues, rock, or learn particular techniques like the touch technique or arpeggio chords, you have to learn to free your hands, arms and shoulders from tension.
Pay attention to this when you choose your method of learning the guitar. Unlike learning violin or piano, which requires impeccable posture, relaxation is essential to playing guitar. You can’t play a guitar solo if you are stressed, nor perform the simplest of chord shapes – let alone a barre chord.
Most guitar teachers are first and foremost guitar players.
Playing guitar can be very enjoyable, but it does require training. When you get started you will have to train your wrists, hands and fingers to perform new movements.
The more you practice with your instrument, the easier it will be on your muscles, and you will see progress in each practice session as it becomes more enjoyable. Once you reach a certain level, you can learn improvisation – and you’ll be amazed at how short a time it took for you to get there!.
You might think it’s easier to play guitar when you’re young, but it’s not always the case. Children have a tremendous capacity for memorization that adults do not have, but they do not always have the intellectual or physical maturity to learn the guitar correctly. They might struggle to read music or to reach all the parts of the fret board.
Although you can buy the right size of guitar for almost any age, it is important that it is the child who chooses to play, and not the parents who decide.
Learning the guitar: a question of motivation
A music professional will be able to advise you on the right solution: accompanied musical discovery if the child is young, private lessons or a more structured music school course.
There is no need to have music-loving parents to start the guitar, nor to have ultra-technical knowledge in music, all this can be learned at the same time as the instrument.
The guitar requires a minimum of discipline, seriousness and a regular practice: and this must factor into your decision. There can be no resting on your laurels.
Are you ready to clear at least 20 minutes a day to play the guitar?
If so, then don’t hang around. There are no further restrictions: if you are motivated enough and willing to invest your time, then you will learn guitar quickly.
It is important that you enjoy learning and sharing the instrument with your teacher, your friends or your family.
Once you have the motivation, you have everything you need to be able to achieve your goal. Playing guitar will help you express yourself and show what you have inside.
Join the discussion: is there an age limit to learning the guitar?