Although I hold an Associate of Arts as well as Associate of Science degree from Cuyahoga Community College and have tutored college chemistry and physics there, I have no degrees, per se, in music. However, I am proficient at sight-reading and have taken music courses at Cleveland Music Settlement as well as Cuyahoga Community College in both guitar and piano. My studies have included the study of Classic Guitar. Over the years, I have observed how the music instructors who taught me, interacted with their students. The approach, I felt, overall, was impersonal and uncreative. I'd come to class. They'd watch me stumble over a guitar piece I was attempting to master, and would look at me and nod. Occasionally, they'd point to a part of the guitar and made some suggestion or other. They were, in a word, "detached". Aloof, inside their little cubicle, and inaccessible to me. Rarely, did any of them perform any initial assessment of what I knew or didn't know about guitar. Consequently, I came to the conclusion that most of these instructors were simply out to get paid. That they weren't, in the least, interested in my learning guitar. It is for this reason, that I've designed my course objective to address the most important learning step a student needs, necessarily, to take in order to have a chance at some day becoming proficient with guitar. I am, myself, a case-in-point; I consider myself to be a work-in-progress. I am able now to play sufficiently well to actually entertain myself and others. This came, I believe, from mastering the basics of sight-reading. Being able to see a note and play that note, automatically, without thinking. Being able to place one's fingers on a 2-tone chord, automatically, without "rolling" from one note to the other. This ability came with practice, to some extent, but mainly because I became aware of sight-reading as a fundamental weakness of beginning students. Hence, in my very first lesson, I will show my student how to name ALL of the notes on the guitar.
I will demonstrate how basic and simple this is; and will then require my student, over time, to do the same. Of course, to be able to name all of the notes, a student must grasp what is a sharp and what is a flat. He or she will also have, necessarily, to understand that some positions on the fingerboard have more than one name (enharmonic), and importantly; that there are no half-steps between E and F or B and C. This can best be demonstrated using a keyboard, which I will do for my student in class. After my student is able to name all the notes, we will go from there to an understanding of what is a STAFF? What are upper- and lower-ledger lines? What is musical arithmetic? In other words, I will conduct a workshop to ground the beginning student in the essentials necessary, before they can go on to more formal private instruction.
The text I will require is no longer in print. So I will supply a copy to my student, free of charge. It is called GUITAR Workshop, and was written by Joseph Castle. Of course, if you can find a copy, yourself, that's just fine. But we will be working from this text until, as I said earlier, you can look at a note on the musical staff and immediately strike that note, without hesitation or having to figure anything out. This is the goal and focus of my Pre-Guitar Workshop course. If you are already past this level of proficiency, then my course is NOT for you. My workshop is for individuals who cannot read guitar music and who want to reach a degree of proficiency that will allow them to play and enjoy easy, finger-style guitar pieces. Finally, the repertoire I will be focused on the student acquiring will consist of seven finger-style songs: Cripple Creek; Down in the Valley; Drunken Sailor; Hush, Little Baby; It Ain't Gonna Rain No More; Rain; and Shady Grove. Of course, I wouldn't ask you to be able to do anything, I can't do myself. It is hoped that a student pursuing the ability to read guitar music would take this solid foundation and go to Cuyahoga Community College or some similar institution and take their first formal course in guitar without feeling inadequate or intimidated. "A good beginning is the safest road to success." -- Anon.