How To Teach Kids To Play Guitar

 Teach Kids Guitar, Chords For Children

"If it ain't fun NOW they're not doing it"

Click This Text To Download A Free Kids Colour In Guitar Chord of C Mini-Poster

Click Here To Download A Free Kids Colour In Guitar Chord of Dm Mini-Poster

Click To Download A Free Kids Colour In Guitar Chord of E Mini-Poster

Teaching Kids Guitar

Guitar Lessons for kids require a slightly different approach to instructing older people. Children are less likely to take on board the notion that they have to practice technical elements of guitar playing for their own sake or for some reward (a better technique) at some indeterminate point in the future. Basically "if it ain't fun NOW they're not doing it!" and the teacher who does not take this simple fact on board when giving guitar lessons to kids will simply not cut it. The following material looks at some important factors to take into consideration when teaching children to play guitar

A short video (it even makes sense with the sound muted) looking at a series of first guitar lessons for children

Below is a video that we have up there on youtube which looks at a plan for a series of child friendly guitar lessons designed to get kids guitar playing off to a flying start. The video looks at the best eight guitar chords for any beginner (not just children) to learn and provides information relating to a system used by guitar teachers around the world to set their younger beginner students off on the right path to becoming competent guitar players. Experienced guitar teachers know that in the early stages (usually only the first few weeks) of teaching a child to play guitar it is a great idea to present some of the chord shapes to be studied in a "reduced" one finger form. By doing this they ensure that a child produces a "good" noise from the very first lesson. It is very important to realise that the one finger shapes presented are not alternatives to the full chords which would require a child to learn a new shape later in the course of study but are instead "reduced" versions of the chord shapes. This means that in order to play the full chords a child need only add fingers to the shape that he or she is already playing.

How to teach kids to play guitar chords, Best Childrens Guitar Chords

A First Kids Guitar Lesson

The first section the video outlines a lesson featuring the chords of G and Em. Even though there is no stretching involved in playing the Em chord and most children would have little difficulty in forming the full open chord shape (being as the notes to be fretted are within easy reach of each other) it is a great idea to have a child's introduction to the instrument be as simple as possible.Things dont come much simpler than putting a finger down and then lifting it up and placing it somewhere else

Even though the approach to giving kids guitar lessons differs slightly from working with older students the basic objectives with regards to chord work are absolutely identical. Guitar playing is stripped back to the basics. During these earliest lessons there are no bar chords,palm muting or solos going on (that comes later when a child is confident and at ease with the instrument) In the early stages all we need to do is get kids to a place where they are able follow these simple two steps....

Step 1

Form two basic kid friendly guitar chord shapes


Step 2

Move between those shapes in time with music

That will lead them to think..........

"Hey! I can do this!"

If you study the material on this page you will see a selection of the best chord shapes to introduce to children in the early stages of playing. One of the images features a handout that goes along with an early stages (or even a first?) guitar lesson that requires the student to move between the chords of G and Em (playing a single strum of each chord as it changes) you will observe that the G chord (which in its "full" form requires that the student should be able to stretch right accross the entire width of the neck to play the bass notes to be found on the E and A strings) can also be played with a single (the third) finger just so long as only the four thinner strings are strummed or struck with a plectrum (the X's above the E and A Strings on the diagrams indicate that the student should not strike or pluck those strings).
By following the diagrams a kid can be moving between two very important and great sounding chords within minutes of being introduced to the guitar. Great for developing that all important feeling of "Hey I Can Do This!" which will encourage kids to pick the guitar up between lessons

The Best Guitar Chords for Kids

Below is an image showing our range of letter sized mini-posters that you can print for your teaching studio wall and/or distribute to your younger students. Two of the chords (C and G) require relatively large stretches in order to sound the thicker (lower pitched) strings and as a consequence are often presented in a "reduced" one finger form during the first few weeks of guitar lessons.

How to teach kids to play guitar

Below are some of our printable sheets that show the "reduced" one finger versions of three of the chords. The links below the image will allow you to download free samples of some of our resources aimed at guitar teachers with younger students.These resources are easy to photocopy and I have had great results with groups of kids running informal competitions with children competing to see who can do the best job of colouring in the sheet between lessons (first prize a free plectrum!).
These resources seem to go down very well with kids and parents alike and help to keep children engaged with the instrument even when they are not playing it.

 Guitar lessons for kids, Chords For Younger Children

Click This Text To Download A Free Kids Colour In Guitar Chord of C Mini-Poster

Click Here To Download A Free Kids Colour In Guitar Chord of Dm Mini-Poster

Click To Download A Free Kids Colour In Guitar Chord of E Mini-Poster

 Blank Guitar Chord and Tab Grids for Children's Guitar Lessons

Blank Guitar Chord and Tab Sheets for Children's Guitar Lessons

Our materials also feature a range of blank guitar chord and tab sheets some of which are shown above. The sheets (many of which also double as coloring in activity sheets to help keep a child interested in the instrument even while they have not got a guitar in their hands) are designed to help a guitar teacher to teach single note riffs, passages,solos or melodies as well as new chord sequences etc as required. They are an important (and FUN!) part of any guitar teaching programme pitched towards younger musicians. In my own lessons with younger kids I find that the sheets provide a fun way to keep kids "on topic" between lessons by running colouring competitions (with a plectrum as the prize). The child who turns up with the neatest (or most imaginative) coloured in sheet from the previous lesson gets a plectrum. Deceptively simple but they seem to love it.

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Download free kids guitar lesson plans

How to teach kids to play guitar

A Handy Guitar PracticingTip for Kids

Studies have shown that a child's effective atttention span in minutes is roughly equivalent to his or her age in years and armed with this information we can help them to progress without really practicing too much formally. You can get to see great progress in playing by simply getting kids to practice guitar during the commercial breaks on TV. When the adverts kick in they should mute the set and play. That way over the course of an evening's viewing they get to develop square eyes and a better guitar technique.

Guitar Chords For Children's Groups

A trick for teaching small groups of younger kids is to "spread the chords around". Get each student to hold down a single chord, turn on the backing track and point at the relevant player when it is time to change. The more able guitar players can still change chords as required but everyone gets to stay involved and (hopefully) encouraged.

Guitar Teaching Games for Groups of Children

Another device that I find useful when teaching guitar to groups of children is a variation of the old children's game "Simon Says" where you would say (for example) "Simon Says E minor" before counting in 1-2-3-4-. If you dont use the phrase "Simon Says" then no matter which chord you tell them to strum they are not supposed to play it?

The game provides a great fun way of getting kids familiar with guitar chords and the element of competition introduced seems to have the effect of concentrating the mind. It is perfectly possible to get great results from a group using this simple game and the chords on the "First Guitar Chords" sheet for an entire lesson. They are learning to move between chord shapes (you can shorten the count in to "3-4" to speed the changes up if required)

Parental Support

In order to see real progress in kids guitar playing it is neccesary to get the parents on board to help ensure that when the guitar comes home from the lesson it is taken straight out of the case and tuned. Children can't practice on a guitar that isn't in tune and just as importantly when they get home from school or guitar group they just want to dump their stuff (usually on the floor) before running off to park themselves in front of the XBox. If parents are not vigilant then a week can go by without the instrument ever leaving it's case. The results in terms of progress and acheivement (as well as let's face it guitar teacher's eventual income?) are obvious.

Moving between chord shapes in time with music and the importance of using backing track to help keep a novice player in time

It is enough during the early stages to ask kids (and adults come to that) to play only a single downstroke with the strumming hand (see the video above for a more detailed explanation)
By far the simplest, best (and the most fun!) way to get children to play the guitar in time is to have them play along to a backing track. Backing tracks are essential to the process because. A mistake that is often made with relation to teaching (and learning) in the early stages is that students are introduced to chord shapes and move between them but they (and their teachers) forget that music is as much about time (rhythm) as it is about the notes being produced by the instrument.
Working to backing tracks is a great way to accelerate and encourage progress because from the earliest stages a learner (adult or child-its all the same) is used to not only learning new chord shapes but is presented with the opportunity to move between them in time to a rhythm section (a drummer and a bass player). Even the simplest single strumming patterns (a single strum as the chord changes) can sound very convincing and professional. This has the dual effect of helping players develop a good rhythmic feel and (just as importantly) helping them to realise that within a relatively short space of time they are becoming capable of providing convincing performances on the guitar. This in itself produces a "benign circle" The better they sound the more they practice. The more they practice the better they sound.

 Kids guitar lesson backing tracks

Kid Friendly Guitar Backing Tracks for Beginners

Helping kids to learn the "right" guitar chords and getting them used to changing between them in time to music?
The teachwombat backing tracks are designed so that students can start by playing single strums of easy chords with plenty of time between the chord changes so that fingers will be able to move (at first slowly) to form the next shape. As they progress tempos increase of players are required to change chord more quickly as there may be more that one chord in a single bar of music. Teachers can introduce more complicated strumming patterns or single note "lead guitar" solos as they see fit and as the opportunity presents itself

An important part of the $25.00 "Deluxe Guitar Teacher's Download" available from this site are a set of twenty backing tracks (standard mp3's) with 46 handouts which is all that you need to get started teaching effective kids guitar lessons. The tracks are based around the eight chords that a beginner should learn first and a combination of full and "reduced" chord shapes (one finger versions of C, G and Em) can be used as required.
At the end of a lesson you can drop the backing tracks onto CD's and mp3 players or even email them to your students if you like?

You might also like to take a look at our page dealing with the "First Eight Guitar Lessons" that form the basis of a teaching programme for younger and older guitar students alike.

You can read a more detailed explanation of how the handouts and backing tracks might be used if you visit our "First Lesson" page which gives a detailed guitar lesson plan suitable for a complete novice (kids and adults)
The progressions and the backing tracks are especially devised to help the teacher to put together the first few months of guitar lessons for a complete beginner.

guitar lessons for kidsWith beginners it is often a good idea to resist the temptation to teach them loads of chords. Instead experienced guitar tutors know that a much more effective technique is to teach them a few guitar chords that will allow them to do loads of things?

Again the eight chords (C A Am G E Em D and Dm) that you can find on the "First Guitar Chords" handout will usually provide a sound basis for (at least) a couple of months of weekly guitar lessons.

Modern Day Guitar Chord Studies For Kids

Below are details of a few songs that I find that kids (and adults) just starting out seem to get a buzz out of being able to play (you can also add "anything by Ed Sheeran" to this list :).
"Wild Thing" (two strums on A followed by two on D two on and E chord and finally two more on A) always seems to go down well and has the advantage that there is a gap between each chord change so that students have plenty of time to move their fingers on the guitar neck.

"Rockstar" by Nickelback (one bar each of A D G and A again for the main part of the verse) and "500 Miles" by The Proclaimers (Two bars of G followed by a bar each of a C and a D chord) also seem to hit the spot. In addition I have also had some good results results teaching power chords to kids using songs like "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" by Green Day (the verse features two even strums on F followed by two on Ab, Eb and Bb repeated for the verse until you get five strums on C). This gets students used to moving power chords around the neck and prepares them for the full bar chords to come.

Children's Guitar Chords for Smaller Hands

When first introducing Children to guitar chords it can be a good idea to speed progress by teaching them to play three and four note versions of some guitar chords suitable for kids rather than the full voicings favoured by more mature learners.


The teachwombat guitar teaching resources feature chord sheets aimed at guitar students with smaller hands designed to give results and encouragement to younger players. Once they have got used to the "easy" versions of common chords and their dexterity and reach improves they can be gradually encouraged to move on to more conventional shapes as appropriate

Below you can see our printable colour guitar "mini-posters" of the best chords for a beginner to learn that you can print and distribute to younger kids. The posters can be used to decorate a child's bedroom or playroom and make a great memory aid. They can be given all at once or introduced gradually in a "guitar chord of the week" way. Its up to you really?

 Guitar Lessons For Kids, Chords For Children

When Can A Kid Learn to Play Guitar?

I don't want to start this very important and relevant section with a "cop out" but the rather predictable answer is that it depends on the individual child rather than its age. If I suddenly "lay down a law" on this little bit of the internet that says eight or nine is a great age to start playing the guitar because thats the age that I start to teach groups of children in schools then folks out there in the real world would quite rightly howl about a fresh from the maternity wing kid they once saw on the internet who made Jimi Hendrix look like Forest Gump. I dont start teaching groups of kids until they are about eight or nine years of age mostly from a classroom management point of view. Anyone who teaches groups of students will know well enough the variety of "dynamics" that can exist within different groups and if you factor in the behaviour and attention span of a group of seven year old children then it shouldn't be a surprise that sometimes a lesson would not go to plan.
So as a general rule of thumb I would say if you are teaching a single child with a reasonable attention span for its age then (at a push) six or seven would be a reasonable age to start playing the guitar. There will be exceptions and it all depends upon circumstances but at this kind of stage the main thing is that lessons need to be FUN! guitar lessons for kids, chords to colour

Kid's Guitar Lessons

Single Note Favourites

Children wanna play guitar stuff that's relevant to them. I teach guitar to kids aged eight upwards and their parents are typically in their late 20's and early thirties. The music that these kids hear at home reflects that reality. Faves at the minute single note wise are the Simpsons Theme That three note thing from Shrek and (strangely?) Smoke On The Water(!) You can still get them into playing the odd Christmas Carol on the guitar because as streetwise and cynical as todays children may regrettably be they still love the season of getting free stuff but in the main, along with the classic rock they want to play the music of now (or at least of the fairly recent past).

It may be a good idea (not just with children?) to teach fragments of songs on guitar rather than whole complete pieces of music? This way your customers feel as if they are learning more and are less likely to get bored and frustrated by being forced to bang away at the same thing for hours on end?


Here are a few ideas that I have found effective to mix and match during recent kids guitar lessons aimed at children who are complete beginners
Its nice to have a few sheets with versions of simple tunes and figures which use only a single string for absolute novices (this also has the advantage of allowing students to get a pleasing result from a guitar that may not be properly in tune)

The theme from Shrek
Happy Birthday
Police Siren (E string 3rd fret to the E string open and repeated as required)
Smoke On The Water (single note version starting from an open A string)

How to teach kids to Play Guitar
The teachwombat guitar teaching resources have a range of sheets with JUMBO sized Tab and notation so that you can easily create your own "Master copies" of often used fragments or licks (these sheets have large graphics designed to be studied from a distance ideal for shorter segments of music) from there it's just a case of scanning or photocopying the originals to ensure that you have a library of material that you can add to and use over and over again.
There is money to be made (and a lot of satisfaction to be derived) from teaching guitar to children but as with "regular" instrumental instruction the key to an effective, stress free (and profitable!) lesson is preparation.

How to Teach Kids to play Guitar: The New Reality?

I've seen the books and the "teach kids to play guitar" stuff thats out there and some of it (while worthy) is a bit wide of the mark.
"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" "Merrily We Roll Along" and all sorts of stuff like that? They have Playstations and School Of Rock for crying out loud!!
Show me a nine year old kid who wakes up with a burning desire to play "Twinkle Twinkle" and I'll show you a child stolen from the 1950's and beamed into the present day (and to be perfectly frank he or she would probably have been a bit of a wierd kid even in the 50's).

The only real reason that the stuff like "Frankie and Johnny" and "Merrily We Roll Along" is in the guitar books in the first place is so that the publishers don't have to pay the composers and owners of the songs because they are out of copyright. The fact that a tune is out of copyright presents no incentive for a nine year old kid to want to learn it on their guitar .

As Guitar and Bass Teacher's we have to compete with the free stuff that's up there on youtube (some of which lets face it is very good) so it would seem a bit silly to rely on out of copyright tunes that are recognised by an ever decreasing number of people?

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The "Deluxe" Package

Get All of our Resources (including the kids guitar material) in a Single $25.00 Download

Over 300 printable Sheets and 20 backing Tracks in a single Download.... All of the teachwombat products with a single one off payment

The "Deluxe" Package contains......................................................................

How to teach guitar to kids and adults

The "nuts and bolts of any guitar teaching business

Kids Guitar Lessons other sheets More than 100 handouts featuring Scales, Open Chords, Bar chords, Power Chords, Major, Minor, Pentatonic and Blues Scales plus loads of blank neck, chord and tab sheets to ensure that you are never stuck for the materials that you need to get your message over?

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Teaching Kids Guitar, Lessons Backing Tracks and Chords
Consisting Of ..............

20 Backing Tracks and 46 Handouts.

An invaluable aid for teaching both rhythm and lead guitar." If they can't play in time then they can't play?"

Plus 100 Giant (letter sized) Guitar Chord Grids

Kids Guitar Chords
Above you can see just some of the 100 "GIANT" (letter sized) Chord Grids (with some "reduced" guitar chord shapes for use in kid's guitar lessons that you can come as part of the "Deluxe Download". Laminate them for display during group guitar lessons, or distribute them as "mini posters" to your guitar students (kids love them!). Alternatively you can just stick them up on your teaching studio wall?

The "Coolest Wallpaper on the planet?"

Also included as a "freebie" in the "Deluxe Download" is.........

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teaching kids guitar and bass teacher's resources
Over 60 Handouts for anyone who already teaches (or who wishes to teach) bass guitar covering Scales, Chords, Fingering Exercises etc

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Here's some stuff from The BBC all about teaching kids to play the guitar