Toy guitar or ukulele for a 3-4 year old?
I've got a friend with a child who wants to play guitar or ukulele. I teach guitar to older kids (5-6 years old) by showing them melodies on the 1st or 6th string, and teach them how to strum chords by using a string mute--a velcro sandwich that I put over the 4th, 5th, and 6th strings. With the string mute, kids can play a G and C chord with one finger, which opens up a bunch of song possibilities.
I'm thinking about recommending that my friend use a toy guitar and a string mute with her daughter, but I wonder if a ukulele would be better. Any uke players know if it's easier for young kids? Can you fret some chords with one finger? How about using alternate tunings on ukuleles to make it easier for kids?
I don't know what you were talking about with the muting thing, but why not start them off on a proper electric guitar? They're pretty cheap for a proper mini one these days.
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An uke is normally tuned as string 1-4 on a standard guitar (a fourth higher)
G - C - E - A
But - one finger chords... hmm lets see:
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There's probably more - but I haven't really considered this problem before - besides I'm not exactly a well trained Uke player...
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My son started playing at 5 years old on a very small classical - 1/4 size guitar. It almost looked the size of a uke, so that might be an option. Do a web search for 1/4 size guitar.
By the way, my son was taught by a program called Child Bloom. I am not connected to the program in any way, other than having a son in it. I just wanted to give anyone who is interested in starting their young child on the guitar their website. It is a franchise thing - our local instructor bought into the program. So, it is only in a handful of cities in the U.S. As a parent, I was amazed at how well very young kids are doing. My son is now almost eight and can play, read music, etc.
IMO he would be better getting a half size acoustic or a mini electric.Sting tension and high action on a ukelele might be hard work for those little fingers.
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Ah, I hadn't considered string tension and action--so ukes have more of both, eh? From the few times I've played a uke, I remember them having high action, but I just figured they weren't set up well.
A tiny electric guitar is an interesting idea. Without an amp, it would be easier on the parents' ears, and probably more durable than a 1/4 size acoustic. Plus, it would look sooo coooool.
Thanks for all your ideas,
srmaximo wrote: A tiny electric guitar is an interesting idea. Without an amp, it would be easier on the parents' ears, and probably more durable than a 1/4 size acoustic.
IMO, an electric without an amp is too quiet to be rewarding to really play.
An electric is going to also be much heavier than an acoustic, and if this child is only 3 or 4 years old, that may not be practical.
When my mind is free, you know a melody can move me
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Thanks for the idea of the 1/4 and 1/2 sized guitar, I have a 5 year old(nearly 6) who always wants to play around with mine. I think if she had one that fit her it would be more enjoyable and encouraging.
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String muting for 1-finger chords? Why not just use an open tuning?
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You don't need more than 1 finger to play a IV or V chord in any open tuning. You barre at the 5th fret for a IV chord, and at the 7th fret for a V chord. I is open strings or a 12th fret barre. I can teach a kid to play a 12-bar blues in 5 minutes.
"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
Good point, but little kids barely have the strength to fret one note (at least when they're beginners), much less six. By one-finger chords, I mean one finger, one note.
Might not be as bad as you think. Take a look at this site:
They have a whole system for teaching little kids barre chords on open tunings. I haven't tried this yet, but I will when my nephew gets a little older.