Each year, I host a guitar recital for my students. The recital presents an opportunity for students to demonstrate what they have learned over the previous year and to showcase performance pieces for family and friends. This year, 7 students participated in the Winter 2015 Guitar Recital. Here are a few pictures below.
In the case of guitarists, that neglect is even more common than among other instrumentalists. Of course, many people learn forms of popular guitar music without ever learning to read standard notation. This is a shame since standard notation is the “lingua franca” for musical language throughout most of the world.
The basic ability to read notes in standard notation is easy to achieve. But the ability to read standard notation carefully with an eye for details is much more rare. This book of exercises by Robert Benedict (professor at the University of Toronto) is a valuable resource for training both students and professional guitarists to read with more accuracy and precision. Most of the exercises in this book are fairly simple on a technical level, but they test a guitarist’s abilities in the areas of timing, dynamics, and phrasing.
Most of the exercises are 1–4 lines in length and are designed to be used for daily practice. Each level concludes with a series of rhythmic exercises. Benedict provides a basic introduction to the various dynamic markings that a guitarist will encounter along with tempo indicators and more complex rhythms. This book is a wonderful supplement to the student who has achieved a basic technical proficiency over the first position within a year of study. This book, along with its second volume (levels 4–6) has greatly aided me in reading and playing with more precision and attention to minor details in the notation.
I recommend this book to students, teachers, and professional performers.
A large part of guitar playing (rhythm guitar styles in particular) is filled with the use of chords. Every guitar player needs to know at least a basic set of chords by memory to play effectively in different situations.
Naturally, there are many books on the market filled with chords and diagrams for the guitar student to use as a reference resource. It is best if the student learns the music theory behind the construction of chords. Simply memorizing forms has its value, but the theory sheds light on the why of chords, not simply the how. Nevertheless, most early students do best when they are given simple forms to memorize and then as the chord forms become more complex, theory is introduced to explain the nature of the more complex chord forms.
Many chord books suffer from one of two problems: (1) too few chords and little lasting value or (2) thousands of diagrams with no immediately apparent application. Mel Bay’s Guitar Chords strikes a good balance between these two problems and provides a simple reference to chords, yet it is comprehensive enough to aid the student that is further along as well. This book claims to be the best selling chord book of all time and I would not doubt that to be a fact.
The value of this book lies in its simplicity. It uses a threefold approach to teach chords. It provides the following information for each chord form:
- Picture of the chord being played.
- Chord displayed on the music staff.
- Detailed chord diagram.
This threefold approach aids a variety of learners in grasping each chord form. This makes the book great for beginners and younger learners. All the basic major, minor and 7th forms are displayed in large print with pictures and diagrams. This is a great way to teach chords to younger students. The book also includes diagrams of more complex chord forms that are useful to the student advancing in their knowledge of chords. Many of these forms are movable and therefore learning one diagram provides the student with a wide range of possibilities and equips them to play in different musical contexts; able to quickly find the chords they need.
This is a great cheap ($4.99) little book that serves as a wonderful teaching aid for students.
For the student interested in gaining a solid foundation in classical technique from the very beginning, I highly recommend Frederick Noad’s “Solo Guitar Playing” as an exquisite, well structured, and balanced instruction book on solo guitar playing.
This book has been popular for decades among classical guitarists and students as a way to learn Classical Guitar. It is one of the best introductory books available on the market.
What sets this book apart from the rest is:
- This book is comprehensive. Noad covers the whole gamut of basic classical technique and basic repertoire. The length of the book makes it valuable since the beginning student will be able to benefit from the book for years.
- It emphasizes constant sight reading. There are no shortcuts here. The student is taught to read music and to use that skill throughout the book to achieve mastery of the musical concepts.
- It teaches basic music theory to the beginning student providing foundations for later studies.
- It has exercises that are generally fun and musically interesting. These exercises are far better than most books with their accompanying etudes and exercises.
- It is rigorous in drilling a new concept. There are generally many exercises with each lesson allowing the student to practice the concept for a sufficient amount of time before moving on to the next concept.
- It contains additional repertoire in the back preparing the student for more complex pieces and provides a context for application of the concepts learned within the book.
Some negatives of this book are:
- More integration of chords and chordal theory would be helpful.
- Additional solo repertoire would have been more helpful.
- The book is not spiral bound. At over 250 pages, this makes it difficult to preserve the binding of the book. Your best bet is to take the book to Office Depot or a similar office store and have them change it to spiral-bound.
This book is one of the best introductions to Classical Guitar on the market. It has proven its worth over decades of use.