How to teach kids to play the guitar with games

Teaching Kids Guitar with Games

Kids love competition against adults and if you set yourself up as the evil "Collector of Points" then you can trick them into increasing their skill levels on the guitar while they think that they are just beating up on you

Theres nothing kids like better than staying up late and consuming their own body weight in chocolate unless its getting the better of an adult. Children's literature is awash with tales of the little darlings running rings around us. From Roald Dahl's "Matilda" to the philosopher stoning Harry Potter there appears to be nothing that our younger citizens like better than to make full grown people look a bit stupid. I could go off on one here about how we dont need kids to help us look daft but then that would be a very different article indeed and you are probably here because you are interested in teaching kids to play the guitar so I'd best get on with that stuff....

Teaching Kids Guitar: The "Big Picture"

If you look at the "big picture" that underpins what we do when teaching kids to play guitar you will see that in the early (and intermediate) stages we seek to do little more than have our students master eight chord shapes and change between them "in time". This normally takes place over a period of weeks and months. The lessons should be geared towards having our students move between these shapes more rapidly and with less in the way of hesitation. If all they did was move between chord shapes and strum each chord once then it would not be too long before boredom set in There are two ways to effectively achieve our objectives without boring our students to the point that they don't want to play any more. The first method is by the development of repertoire. Introducing songs (or more likely fragments of songs) that they are already familiar with that use the eight chords that we want them to master is perhaps just about the best way to "trick" kids into learning to play guitar while they think that they are just having fun. Another way is to engage them in a game of "Simon Says". All your students will be doing is concentrated practice. They will be developing the ability to move ever more quickly between the shapes but they won't really be thinking about that at all. They will just be focussed on trying to beat you!

How to teach kids to play the guitar with easy chords

This is a great activity to engage in when teaching guitar to groups of children and it can be easily be adapted to work with even a single child in a homeschooling guitar lesson. The game is a simple adaptation of the old children's favourite "Simon Says" where you would say (for example) "Simon Says E minor" before counting in 1-2-3-4- (they strum the chord once where "5" would be). 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. If any child in the group strums the chord and you have not prefixed the count in with "Simon Says" then you are free to fine the whole group an arbitrary number of points (i tend to work in millions which is great for fuelling their outrage)
For "Simon Says" (and not for the rest of the lesson I would hasten to add) I usually adopt a "cartoon bad guy" persona. The kids seem to love it almost as much as I do. The one that works for me seems to come out as a cross between Dick Dastardly from Whacky Races and the kind of English Victorian villain about town whose idea of a good time is evicting widows and orphans into the snow. Its all down to personal choice and you could draw inspiration from a cast of characters that includes Monty Burns, Cruella De Ville and any number of the pantomime villains who seem to pass for politicians these days.

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)
If you arrived on this page from a search engine it might be a good idea to take a look at our page that provides an introduction to How to teach Children Guitar: An Overview
Or you could just..........

Take a look at the video below (which even makes sense with the sound muted) The video looks at a series of lessons geared towards getting kids off to a flying start on guitar

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