The CGC Story

Classical Guitar Corner Academy is a special place.

It brings together a team of dedicated teachers, provides a world-class curriculum of study, and is home to a truly international community of musicians who are both dedicated and supportive.

I’m glad you’re here.

Here is the story of how this Academy came to be.

Core Values

I like to think of myself as an amateur. An amateur is someone that does something out of pure love for the craft, there are few if any extrinsic factors that motivate playing but rather a deep personal need to express themselves through the classical guitar. The respect I have for amateurs runs through this site, through my teaching style and I hope gets imbued into my students. I believe that an amateur can play to the highest levels of musicianship and technique, they can attain mastery of the instrument, and be empowered to share the gift of music with their community. These are my core values as a leader and educator.

In the Beginning

Classical Guitar Corner started out as a collection of resources, I had looked around the internet and compiled links to teaching materials and festivals. What I found was that the educational materials were scattered and inconsistent, furthermore there was rampant negativity, even bullying in some corners. The cloak of anonymity had given people the gall to be cruel and harsh, and I fear that many nascent musicians would have been turned off.

In 2008 I was a student at Yale University and I began to write about guitar technique online. It was a novelty to begin with, but I soon found that I was serving a small but incredibly diverse audience of guitarists who were keen to advance their skills. I received emails from Ghana, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Iraq, Germany. The audience was, and still is, truly global. With this initial response I recognized the potential for my teaching to help a large group of amateurs around the world and I began to write more consistently.

The Boy in the Attic

Once I had graduated from my doctoral studies at Yale I found myself living in a friends attic. This didn’t come as a huge surprise to me as by that point I was very realistic about what a life in music was. Rich, but without money. In this attic I had a very valuable resource, time, so I used that time to write a scale book and record some videos on technique. Out into the universe they went.

Over time I received emails about my scale book being used in Colombia, up at Yale by my former teacher and various individuals from all around the planet. Once again I saw potential to help people, so I started to write my curriculum for classical guitar.

This was the very first video I ever made for CGC!

The Power of a Good Teacher

It may surprise you to know that I did not start playing at the age of four, and I didn’t encounter a good teacher for the first nine years of my studies.

I was eleven when the guitar first grabbed my attention. It wasn’t a classical guitar, but rather an electric guitar in a band. In the early days I was listening and trying to imitate Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani all virtuosi in their own rights and more or less instrumental in their playing. In my mid teens I felt myself wandering aimlessly without any structure so I became attracted to the classical style. It had tradition, lineage and a canon of educational materials.

But, unfortunately I was paired with some poor teachers from the beginning. Teachers that gave me music beyond my abilities and teachers who did not have a structured approach. Then, I met Raffaele.

Raffaele and I worked together at the Sydney Conservatorium, and he had the conviction to say no to me. He took away the pieces that were too difficult, took away the huge variety of pieces, and made me focus on a small selection of pieces that were at my level, and he made me do them properly.

A structured approach

One of the cornerstones of this site is a structured approach to learning. It was something I didn’t have when I started out and when I did have it, it made all the difference.

Raffaele not only slowed down my frenetic pace, but he gave me focused goals of studying AMEB grades. These grades are common in the UK and Canada but are not found everywhere. They provide sets of repertoire, technique, musicianship and theory to be studied in tandem. To complete a grade you can take an exam and receive a certificate. This process was revelatory for me, and I followed it through to the last post, which was Licentiate of music.

I have taken this transformative model as inspiration for my own curriculum. One with levels that guide the student through a steady path of improvement.

Who am I to talk?

As an Australian (or maybe it was just my family) I was raised to stay relatively quiet about achievements. I believe that this site, and the content within, speaks for itself. However, I have been told by several members that I need to communicate certain things to new visitors. For me, it was summed up recently at a concert in New York where a fellow guitarist came up to me and said : “I think you must be the hardest working guitarist in New York!”

So, I will let some others do it for me…

Simon Powis is at the vanguard of classical guitar pedagogy. By following his various repertoire and technique books in addition to his various videos, one can build a solid classical guitar foundation and much more. I have been using and recommending his scales and arpeggio book for a couple of years now and find it to be one of the very best available. Simon presents all of the material with great enthusiasm, clarity and authority. He is the rare combination of a virtuoso guitarist and a thoughtful forward thinking pedagogue. – Benjamin Verdery, Yale University

One of my proudest achievements as a teacher has been teaching students that go on to form a career in music. I was so touched when Koh, who is now completing his Doctorate in New York, wrote this for me:

I had the pleasure of studying with Simon as an undergraduate at Yale University.  Simon played an influential role in my development as a guitarist and my interest in pursuing a career in music.  Prior to studying with Simon, I had been playing guitar for many years but had never received extensive training in technique and efficient practice methods.  Simon provided me with the many tools necessary for me to improve my playing and prepare me for a Master’s degree in guitar performance.  It was through Simon in which I learned the importance of practicing scales and working on technical exercises, as well as how to be my own teacher so that I could understand what methods of practicing worked for me.  In addition to giving me many helpful ideas and tips, Simon constantly pushed and encouraged me to strive for improvement and explore new opportunities, such as entering a competition and giving my first solo recital; as a result, I gained a deeper passion for guitar.  Through Simon’s guidance, I realized that I wanted to pursue guitar as a career. – Koh K.

Notable Performances

  • Carnegie Hall – New York
  • GFA Symposium
  • The Kennedy Center – Washington D.C.
  • Australian International Guitar Festival
  • Beijing – China (multiple tours)
  • Banff Center for the Arts, in Canada
  • Buenos Aires – Argentina
  • Brugge – Belgium
  • Boulder – Colorado
  • Lima – Peru
  • Oslo – Norway
  • Queretero – Mexico
  • Australia (multiple tours)
  • Chile (tour with orchestra)

Notable Teaching and Workshops 

  • Cleveland Internation Guitar Festival
  • Colorado University
  • Yale University
  • Sydney University
  • Adelaide University
  • The University of New South Wales
  • And here are some places where I gave masterclasses around the world!
  • Queretaro, Mexico
  • Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, Australia
  • Lima, Peru
  • Beijing, China
  • All over the United States!

Building a Team

I feel fortunate and privileged to work with an amazing team of musicians at CGC Academy. Each relationship came about differently but we have all ended up working together to serve our community of musicians.

David Belcher

Community Manager

David Belcher is an experienced guitarist who has performed throughout the United States. At CGC you will bump into Dave on the forum and via email as he helps manage the site and answer your questions.

I first met Dave back in 2014 when we were both living in New York City. Dave was working on the Rossiniana no.1 by Mauro Giuliani (the same piece that is the soundtrack to the CGC podcast) and he asked if we could work together on the piece. We met several times in my apartment in Harlem and then we fell out of each others orbit for a while as Dave moved away from the city with his family. When the Academy started to get a bit of traction I found myself getting overwhelmed with juggling all the different aspects and I realised that I needed help. Dave was the first person I thought of and the first person I asked and I will be forever grateful that he said yes!

Nicoletta Todesco

General Manager

Niki is an Italian guitarist with a masters in classical guitar performance from Yale University. She runs all of the events at CGC, teaches, and keeps our projects running smoothly.

Niki and I shared a teacher in Ben Verdery and after being invited up to talk to the Yale Guitar department about teaching and career building I had the chance to meet Niki. All I remember was how engaged and passionate she was about the topic of education and Ben’s recommendation went as follows: “She’s an angel!” So, when Dave and I were feeling the overwhelm of juggling the Academy I reached out to Niki and she became our colleague even though she was still finishing up her degree at Yale!

James Erickson


James Erickson has an active career teaching classical and rock guitar throughout the New York metropolitan area and Long Island. James is an adjunct instructor of music at Nassau Community College, LIU Post, and Suffolk County Community College.

James and I had met several times over the years as he is integral to the running of the Long Island Guitar Festival along with Harris Becker. James always struck me as a wonderful person and the last time I was out in Long Island we talked about having him get involved with CGC. James has contributed greatly through exams, coaching calls, workshops, and the Summer School.

Sanja Plohl


Internationally acclaimed as a virtuoso performer, Plohl has received over 30 major awards including first prizes at Córdoba Guitar Festival, Ivor Mairants Award (London) and Seville International Guitar Competition.

The most recent addition to the team, Sanja, was ironically the person I have known the longest. Many years ago when I went to festivals and competitions in Europe, Sanja and I crossed paths. I put out a notice on social media about an opening for a teacher and I was delighted when she replied because Sanja is such a formidable musician and teacher I knew she would bring a lot to the Academy.