By far, the most popular instrument to learn at my music school is the guitar. It is after all the definitive instrument of modern music for at least the last 50 years or so. But it is also by far the most poorly taught of all the instruments. The Internet is inundated with programs, cds, even free online lessons, all not geared to teach guitar lessons any more then they are to teach brain surgery but just anything more than how to make a quick buck off of unknowing people. Ive never met anyone who has told me , all I want to learn is how to play some simple cowboy chords so I can strum some simple silly sing along songs like Kum Ba Yah. Yes, there able to play the intro to Smoke on the water; in the wrong key; Back in black, whoop dee do; and if they really practice, maybe theyll be able to play All along the watch tower or the ending of Free bird, you know, the jamming part, chords only though. All this might make the complete novice say, cool, but a guitarist, this does not make. At best, there no better then the guys who can hit those big colored buttons to the right timeing in Nintendos guitar hero game. Its not only the fault of the fools who try to teach themselves, believing the internet hype of whatever product they found, but there are a slew of so called teachers capitalizing on this. Every week they will simply show their students how to play another song that the student thinks is cool. Awesome dude. Well, now they know that. What is that? Nothing. Just that. Nothing. They can play those songs. They dont know how, or why. What about the notes? What are those chords? What key is it in? You know what Im talking about. What about the music!? Thats what its all about, the music, and that evil word: theory. But to the parents who are paying for the lessons, they hear little Jonnie play the opening to Sweet home Alabama and think, wow that was great. Cant wait for you to play it for grandma, and uncle Tony. Private teachers that come to your home are the worst offenders in the business. Not that there arent any good ones, even great ones, but it has been my unfortunate realization that the vast majority arent qualified to teach. Even the ones that come from companies that claim to specialize in the at home service. I know good teachers who work for these companies but never even met any one from the company, no credentials were checked and no test given. They were simply asked what there schedules were and with in the week they were handed appointments, all their business done by phone, and into your house they come, to sit with your children. Even recommendations arent good enough, because they may not realize it either. Just ask grandma and uncle Tony. But, its the best defense you have. If you know someone whose child has taken some lessons and seems to be doing well and likes the teacher, hear how he plays and ask him a few questions. Ask about the theory, ask what chords he was playing, in what key, scale, notes, any thing. It doesnt matter that you have no idea what the answers are, so long as he has some. That will at least show that there is some sort of real lesson happening there. Teachers at local music schools and those at the back of storefront music stores are usually better then the at home lot. They have a boss who has a local reputation and business to maintain. Do the recommendation and question thing there as well. It doesnt hurt. After the lessons begin, be involved, ask the questions of your own child, encourage, and praise. You might be doing us all a favor. The world is ready for the next Eric Clapton. Lord knows its been a long time coming. I know, its hard but your best effort and using your gut instinct will probably be the best lesson for all involved.