Can a 5 year old learn the guitar?

What are some important things to consider when considering music lessons for your kids at that age? What should I expect from their lessons?


Jace Snel

3/1/20233 min read

Can a 5-year-old learn the guitar?

Every child is different, of course, but the short answer is yes.

Five is the earliest I would recommend kids start playing guitar. Maybe 4 if they just want to have a bit of fun with the ukulele. You will need to make a decision based on your own children's development. It can be based on their hand size or their development around reading numbers, for example. However...

There is nothing wrong with giving it a go!

Sometimes the guitar isn't the right fit. I often have students who come along and enjoy trying a few instruments and will often settle with one after a few months. A piano is also a great option for a 5–7-year-old since pressing keys is easier to grasp early than coordinating their hands for the guitar. Once you begin using two hands to play piano, I would say guitar then becomes easier again.

It all depends on what makes them the most enthusiastic!

This comes to probably the most important factor – Do they actually want to play or are they looking for something else (get out of class, hang out with the music teacher, etc)? While it's always going to be hard to get kids to practice regularly at that age, if they don't actually want to, it's probably not going to happen. But, you might not know until they try it out.

It can also depend on the kind of guitar they start out with. The right guitar can be a game-changer.

I see so many students come into lessons with an old steel string that has been sitting in the back of someone's garage, the neck has warped and the strings are painful to play and will be nearly impossible to make sound good.

lighted red text signage
lighted red text signage

My favorite starter guitar is the Yamaha Classical C40II. It's easy on the fingers with a roomy fretboard. It's easy to make sound nice for chords and for single notes. It can be slightly too big if your child is small for 5, but they will soon grow into it. However, if you do have a smaller child, starting with an electric guitar can be better. They are easier to play due to having smaller bodies, making them more comfortable to play. Here, I have a more in-depth look at some of the good beginner options.

Don't forget the Uke. The ukulele is a great lead-in instrument for young kids!

Hype! Don't underestimate hyping your kids up. Encouraging them, of course, but kids want to feel cool for playing the guitar too. It's obvious, even though they may never admit it! Having friends who also play is a great way to keep up the hype. Also, listening to music at home is great for them and great for me as a music teacher since they have a reference point for songs I might teach them. The hype also helps especially at times when it starts to feel difficult.

Having a guitar teacher is the best way to get started, but there are definitely resources to help them start out at home. Subscribe for more articles to support your kids' learning at home.

As for expectations... Well, 5-year-olds come in all shapes and sizes. It's an age where a lot of mental growth happens. So even just the positives that come with exposure to the instruments, the terms, the ideas, listening to music in different ways, counting, patterns, and coordination (just to name a few) can be something to consider. I've seen everything from students who took just a few lessons to learn a song, to students who took a whole year to get their first proper song down.

But, all in all, students who start younger are typically a bit better by the time they leave primary school than those who started later (8-9 y/o), but not always, as musical talent and hard work play big factors!

Hopefully, these points will help you make your decision on starting your kids out early!