By Scott Gossage
Everybody always asks me this question. The answer depends on a number of factors. Students can begin as young as three years, or even two years. There is a great advantage in beginning early, which is it gives us more time. The disadvantage is that students are up against the limit of their development in learning a lot of the basics: balance in sitting and standing, fine motor control, focus and concentration, following directions. This means we will go slower than if we start a little later. It also means that the student needs lots of help from his parents. The parents need to learn a lot to help the student effectively. Parents who feel they may not have the time or inclination to work very diligently every day, and attend to many details of the child’s study, progressing pretty slowly at times, will probably want to wait until their child is a little older, say 7 or eight, to begin.
At the age of seven or eight, the student will be able to learn more quickly. The disadvantage of starting lessons at this age is that the student will have less time before she reaches high school and time demands become acute. Another problem with starting at 7 or 8 is motivation. When they are 3 or 4, they want to do stuff with mommy and daddy; kids will naturally model the behavior of their parents, and so it is relatively easy to motivate the child. At Silicon Valley Classical Guitar School our teachers are experts at using the Suzuki Method to help parents and young students learn in this way. At ages beyond 7 a child comes strongly under the influence of their peer groups and media, and parental influence diminishes.
As long as the student has a little time every day to practice, it is possible to get good results at any age. It helps to have a good teacher, who is skilled at guiding you toward the most effective way of practicing. Here at Silicon Valley Classical Guitar School, we have a lot of experience helping students of all ages in this way.