Classical Guitar Lesson Topics

The classical guitar (not to be confused with it's steel-stringed cousin, the acoustic guitar) has a rich history going back several hundred years, and has been written for by composers including Bach, Satie, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Holst. Classical guitar is a specific style, with a technique handed down from teacher to student for generations. While the style can be a little difficult in the beginning, due to the unique fingerstyle method of playing, the rewards outweigh any initial discomfort. Once you learn to play with your fingers as opposed to a pick, you'll see a whole new world of possibilities on the instrument. This is particularly helpful to students interested in other styles that make use of the right hand fingers, including jazz and folk.

One should always heed the advice of one's personal instructor, but in general there are a few things you'll need to have to make your practice time constructive: a metronome, a footstool, a tuner, a mirror, a music stand, and a quality instrument. Practice fundamentals and études with a metronome often, and use the mirror to watch your hands for unnecessary movement and tension. As a classical musician, you play the role of an interpreter, so pay close attention to your technique and practice performing passages of music with different emotional feels and dynamic emphasis. Remember to listen and have fun!

Below is a list of topics likely to be covered by a classical guitar teacher. Remember to be patient and take your time, especially with the right hand. The strokes you need to learn must be executed with precision and ease to sound right.

Beginner

  • Proper playing position/use of footstool
  • Straightness of left and right wrists
  • Position of left hand thumb
  • General relaxation of body
  • Right hand technique: Use of right hand fingers (p, m, i, a)
  • Correct shaping/maintenance of right hand fingernails
  • Right hand placement
  • Right hand strokes (free stroke, rest stroke)
  • Finger independence exercises
  • Thumb development exercises
  • Scales:
    • Major
    • Natural, Harmonic, Melodic Minor

Intermediate

  • Tremolo
  • Left hand position/technique:
    • Pressure/positioning of left hand fingers
    • Slurs-ascending/descending
    • Finger independence exercises
    • Barres
  • Arpeggios
  • Sight-Reading studies
  • Andres Segovia's significance/contributions

Advanced

  • Fernando Sor Studies
  • Tarrega Complete Technical Studies
  • Villa-Lobos Works for Solo Guitar
  • Carcassi 25 Etudes
  • Giuliani 24 Etudes
  • Scales:
    • Major
    • Natural, Harmonic, Melodic Minor
  • Arpeggios
  • Sight-Reading studies
  • Andres Segovia's significance/contributions

Classical Guitar Virtuosos to Check Out and More

As with any kind of music, it's important to hear it performed by the masters. With classical guitar in particular, there are artists who have set the standard for modern players. Some of these include:

  • Andres Segovia
  • Julian Bream
  • John Williams
  • Christopher Parkening

For more of a taste of what classical guitar is all about, check these interesting sites: