The best eight guitar chords for a kid to learn

The Best Guitar Chords for a Child to learn first


This page looks at the eight chords that guitar teachers the world over use in order to get their students off to a flying start on the instrument


The eight chords in the picture above have been used by guitar teachers around the globe for decades in order to get their students off to a great start when teaching kids to play the guitar. Three of the chords (G C and Em - the chords at the top of the handout shown above) have "reduced" one finger versions particularly suited to younger players who may have smaller hands or who may be still developing the motor skills required to play the guitar.

Why do experienced guitar teachers use these particular chords?


There are quite literally thousands of guitar chords that a teacher could use so it seems funny that almost all guitar teachers should end up using the same ones. A closer examination of the situation reveals that the chords in question are the perfect combination of being both "easy to play and useful to know". "Easy to play" in that they do not make "unreasonable" demands on inexperienced fingers and "useful to know" as once mastered they allow learners to play satisfying chord progressions in a couple of suitable keys (notably G and A but we'll come to that in a moment)

The best guitar chords to use when teaching kids

The Chords are Easy to Play


I could go into some stuff here about the fact that for adult sized fingers the chords (C A G E D Am Dm and Em) present no real problems in terms of stretching etc but perhaps the best way to explain why they are suitable for beginners is to point out that they are the best chords to start with because none of them are the chord of F!

F (and loads of other chords to be fair) requires that a student does something he or she is nowhere near ready to attempt during the early stages of playing guitar. To play F a learner is required to press down two strings (the B and the E string) with a single finger. There is no better way to ensure that someone gives up a musical instrument than presenting them with a near impossible technical task during the early stages of playing.

When I first started to learn to play guitar (before all of this internet malarkey) there were a whole load of books (remember them?) floating about that stated with authority that C F and G were the first three chords that a beginner should learn. This nonsense was trotted out simply because music theory is best understood in the key of C and the three chords in question are "important" in the key of C. I yield to no man in my love for music theory and how it helps us to both understand what we are playing and inspires us to choose what to play next but it has no place in influencing the choice of chords with which to confront an absolute novice. In the early stages of playing guitar students (children and adults alike) have enough on their plates trying to cope with developing a basic workable technical approach to the instrument without having to learn the "rules" of music theory that will be of no short term benefit to them. Guitarists should develop a knowledge of music theory but not at this stage.

encourage children to play the guitar with free printable certificates
If you have arrived at this page via a search engine query it may be a good idea to take a look at the first in a series of five guitar lessons for kids which introduce the eight "best" guitar chords that they can learn during the early stages of study. Each of the lessons has a free certificate of achievement and a downloadable "at a glance" lesson plan for anyone teaching kids to play the guitar to print irrespective of whether you choose to buy our resources or not. The lessons are designed to help take a child from a place where they have not even picked up a guitar to a situation in which they are familiar with changing between the eight basic beginners chords In time to music.


The eight chords here work so well because they allow us to play loads of songs

The eight chords work so well with regard to helping to develop a capability on the guitar because the ability to move between them in time to music allows a student to play thousands (and possibly even millions) of songs.
The chords work weel for songs that are in the key of G as five of the six chords that feature heavily in the key of G (G Am C D and Em) are on the list.
Within the eight chords you will also find three (A D and E) that will allow your students to get to grips with a 12 bar blues in the Key of A (perhaps the most "guitar friendly" key of all?)


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resources for how to teach kids guitar chords
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