Member Orientation Course
First and foremost I would suggest you grab a coffee and spend 20 minutes going through the Member Orientation Course. This comprises eight short videos that will teach you how to get the most out of this site.
Courses & Certificate Courses
There are two ways to go through the lessons on this site:
- Pick and choose your lessons based on topic (i.e., Technique & Musicianship or Notation & Sight Reading, etc.)
- Use the certificate course, which takes ALL of the lessons in each grade and arranges them for you in a structured, easy-to-follow roadmap.
I would suggest using the certificate courses, as they provide the most structured way to go through the lessons. The individual topic courses are great for revision or a specific area of focus.
The submission dates each year for the Certificate Courses are:
- October 1
- April 1
The course books are free for Annual Members. These books can be accessed under each Grade on the courses page. You will see a tab that says “Course Materials.” Please download one book at a time to work with, it will help you focus and make progress.
Grades & Difficulty
The Fundamentals course is intended for the absolute beginner. If you have just started learning classical guitar start with the Fundamentals course.
Grades 1 through 8 are sets of comprehensive courses and lessons aimed at a particular skill level. They can take anywhere between 3 months to 2 years to complete, depending on your current level of experience, the time you dedicate study, and your practice approach.
This course covers the essentials that every classical guitarist needs to know. If you are starting out make sure you go through the Fundamentals course from beginning to end.
Notation & Sight Reading
These courses will teach you to read standard notation and also include guidance/practice material for sight reading. Grades 1-2 are intended for those starting from the beginning. As the grades progress the notation course covers what is needed to play the repertoire from that grade.
Technique & Musicianship
These are substantial courses that teach core technique concepts for the classical guitar. The techniques taught in each grade correlate with the techniques you will use to play the repertoire for that grade. Many of the lessons have specific exercises, please complete these exercises before moving on.
Please know that many of the lessons (rest stroke for example) could be re-visited and studied multiple times and different stages in your development. These core concepts are not something to be “ticked off the list” but rather a constant work in progress.
At the end of the Technique & Musicianship Course you will find Progressive Technical Routines. These routines are intended to last you quite a while so don’t feel pressured to rush through them or tick them off the list. Learn each routine so that you can play them fluently and comfortably.
When you are in control of all the exercises in a routine you can progress to the next routine. These routines will overlap with your repertoire studies and they offer a balanced set of exercises to incorporate in each practice session.
Theory & Analysis
This course is short and sweet but the ideas are very important. I encourage you to go through this course several times. Once before delving into the repertoire once during the repertoire and once after working on the pieces for some time. The lessons will mean different things to you at various stages of development.
The repertoire pieces in Grades 1-4, like the technical routines, are arranged in a progressive level of difficulty. Once again I encourage you to approach them in order and to complete all of the pieces if you can. They all have specific musical and technical benefits. It would be to your benefit to go through all of the pieces in each grade as they have different technical and music focuses.
Grades 5-8 repertoire is intended for short to medium length recitals. The pieces are chosen for their pedagogical value in addition to their musicality. Aim to work up the entire set of pieces and perform them. Even if it is just for the dog!
Masterclasses & Repertoire Workshops
Masterclasses and taught by guest teachers, these are available to Annual Members only. They are in-depth explorations of repertoire.
Repertoire Workshops are taught by me (Simon) and are in-depth studies into single pieces of repertoire. These are available to Monthly and Annual Members
Building a practice session
At any given point in time limit your practice session to one technical routine, one or two pieces, and some sight reading. Resist the temptation to graze around the site and focus intently on your current place in the courses.
Re-visit your lessons
The beauty of online education is that you can constantly re-visit previous lessons and let the information soak in over time. Once you are into your repertoire I highly suggest you re-visit lessons that are appropriate to that piece of repertoire. Right hand position, free stroke, accents etc.
It is very common and easy for bad habits to creep in, so check in in with the lessons on a regular basis will be very beneficial.
A final word…
A temptation that is common to all of us (I definitely include myself in this one) is to move on to the next shiny object as soon as we can.
Learning classical guitar takes time, and as with so many other pursuits in life, mastering the fundamentals is incredibly important. If you feel like you can successfully complete an exercise or a piece, challenge yourself to stick with it for one more day or one more week. By focusing in on an element you will have the opportunity to progress faster than if you skimmed across a lot of material quickly.
The pieces I have chosen for this level all have some beautiful music in them, it is up to you to bring that music to life.
Enjoy exploring your sound, enjoy making music, and enjoy the process of discovery.