Teaching my grandson

Hi all.

My 11 year old grandson has asked for a guitar for his birthday(electric) and wants to spend a few hours each week ,with me,to learn the basics.

Now,Im happy choosing and setting up his guitar(luckily he likes a telecaster) and can sort out the hardware.

So,where would you start? Apaert from the basics …picks,strumming etc what would you start with first.

My first idea was basic open cords , and then find a song we can learn together. But,would you differ significantly from Justin’s teaching method?

Is it better for him to take one on one lessons with a guitar teacher?

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Justin’s Grade 1, Module 1 is the best place to start. Just start walking him thru the JustinGuitar course on the website.

Between Justin’s teaching and your tutoring, he should do well.


Surely the answer is to start him with Justin’s beginner course and you work through the lessons with him.
He needs A D and E before he can play any songs with you and Justin’s lessons start with all the basics.
Why would you want to do something different? Why reinvent the wheel? There is a professionally created - and totally free - course waiting there for your grandson.

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Hi Peter
I hope to be faced with this in 3 to 5 years, so hearing peoples’ views on you question will be interesting.
From my own experience. I started to learn to play when I was about 11 (1963). My motivation was to plays Beatles’ songs. I took 1x1 lessons. I think he was a decent teacher, but I was not a great student (didn’t practice daily) and the songs I wanted to learn were a still beyond my level. I did learn to play reasonably well and I did learn some Beatles’ songs. My hindsight view of this was: it ‘might’ have worked better if my teacher could have helped me see what I needed to do to reach my goal while he was teaching me basics. I.e. balance something fun with learning the basics, which included learning read std music notation at that time.
Looking at how I might approach this if my grandson tells me he wants to learn to play: I think Justin’s lessons are quite good for someone at any age learning to play. I would start with them and do the modules with him, acting as his play buddy and his coach. Based on observing his interest in learning, how he is doing, and how the relationship with me works, I would keep on the path and/or go look for a 1x1 teacher to augment the learning or, if appropriate, help him to let it go without feeling that he failed and with the hope that his interest reignites sometime :grinning:

It’s important the teacher is focused on finding a way to keep it fun so your grandson’s motivation is kept alive. Far too many teachers bring in theory far to early with the goal of “it will make you a better player in the long run”. That’s a really discouraging sort of goal. Justin has a good lesson that talks about the need to bring in theory only when there’s a specific goal. A more specific one than “it will make you a better player in the long run”.


Peter, I think he and you have a full set of resources! One approach could be something like: he watches one (or more) Justin lessons; then meets with you (his one-on-one teacher) to review the teachings, ask questions and demonstrate what he learned, with you providing guidance. And play songs - he can play solo, and you can play together. He has a built-in jam buddy! What a lovely way to spend quality time with your grandson. :smiling_face:

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I have a kid the same age. And another a few years younger. Both play around a bit on guitar, and get piano lessons.

I would 100% get a real-life guitar teacher with experience teaching children and NOT use online lessons.

Kids learn differently. Some things are faster, some slower. They need guidance and feedback. They have small hands.

On what you can do? Well, in showing my own kids around, they have heaps of fun doing little riffs but find chords hard to learn. So I’d show him simple riffs from popular songs. Seven nation army, another one bites the dust, etc.


Thanks .Thats really helpful. We have just had fun learning Happy Birthday and Hickory Dickory. I agree about simple riffs. He enjoys that.

I think I will help with basics-holding the pic, keeping time and riffs. Let the professional teacher teach.

I don’t think anyone has mentioned the most important question? What does your grandson want?
What image does he have of himself playing the guitar? Shredding Smoke on the Water? Punk? Disney-pop?
Many ‘professional’ teachers will have a set approach on how they teach. This might be good- or disastrous.
Would he prefer to spend time learning with his grandpa?
As someone mentioned above, keeping it interesting, but most of all, fun is the key :smiley:


I would bet that even at the young age of 11 your grandson is more computer and tech savvy than many adults. You could leverage that knowledge by exposing him to the Justinguitar courses both on the computer and the Musopia app.
As others have stated, having his grandpa take an active role in his bonding with guitar is priceless. Spending quality time with you is a wonderful motivator for practicing. Of course you need to be willing to spend the time also.
A caveat I would have for a professional teacher is avoiding the scenario in which you disagree with the teacher and confuse your grandson.

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I had two younger sons that took lessons - one stuck with it and the other one not so much. At that age, it has to be fun and they have to work on songs they like. Even better If they think their instructor is cool :sunglasses: