My 10 year old has expressed an interest in learning guitar. Does anyone know of any methods such as Pete's to learn guitar, or can his method be applied to these instruments? For instance just learning the chords and a basic strum so they can play along with me as I learn, and so we can go to jams together. I can't afford lessons so something online or dvd format would be great. I know Pete doesn't teach guitar I was just wanting to find a method like his that would be suited for guitar for a total beginner that would make "the first rung of the ladder close to the ground."
Glad to answer this question, sorry for the delay.
I teach basic guitar the same way I teach basic banjo. The most important thing to do first (besides tuning the instrument, with the help of an electronic clip on tuner) is learn how to make chord changes quickly and accurate, and as soon as possible, without looking. Two chord songs come in quite handy here! It's important that the songs be likeable to the learning player. That makes the whole thing fun right from the start, even though the fingertips do hurt at first. Be sure your son knows the hurting fingers will toughen up and be guitar-friendly within a week or two, and then they just stay that way for life.
Our Slow Jam DVD is a really useful material to start with because it's "real bluegrass", just quite slow. The basic strum on guitar ("boom/chick", a.k.a., bass note/strum) is shown right near the beginning, and then there are several 2-chord songs to get the music going. Once your son can strum along with a song and follow chord changes, he can rightfully say he's a musician!
At that point, it's up to him on what he wants to learn to play. Fancier guitar backup, simple guitar breaks, finger-picking, it's all possible with the foundation he'll have established already. A good teacher could help, or there's a wealth of good DVDs on Homespun video, mostly by Steve Kaufman, which teach all the details. Look over their selection at homespun.com and pick what he's most interested in learning.
But in some ways, the most important thing is the fun factor. If you or anyone else who's patient and friendly plays real music with him, it's a joy that's hard to describe, but that's what makes lifelong musicians. Good luck!