Classical Guitar Instruction

Introduction to Classical Guitar Instruction

If you’re interested in undertaking classical guitar instruction, there are a few areas that you’ll likely concentrate your studies on, so it’s good to have a basic understanding of what's involved before you begin. Studying the classical guitar takes time and dedication. These areas below will give you a good idea of how you'll be spending your practice time.


Perhaps more so than any other genre that you’ll study, classical guitar emphasizes proper technique, from the way you hold the guitar to the way in which you’ll position your hands. Because classical guitar involves simply the guitar itself without any external amplification (besides, possibly microphones), the tone that you produce through your technique is absolutely critical.

Nail Care

Another distinct area within classical guitar study involves the care and preparation for one’s fingernails. The tone produced by the fingers is soft and warm - a good sound - but you really need to grow your right hand nails in order to produce a wide array of sounds. If you’re unable (or unwilling) to grow out your nails, there are many artificial nail solutions available for the classical guitarists, some are dedicated classical guitar nails while others are “off the shelf” solutions that one can find in, say, a local pharmacy.


Part of classical guitar instruction is mastering basic classical repertoire. There are a few names that are common amongst classical guitar students - Sor, Carcassi, Giuliani, Villa-Lobos. Fortunately, there are pieces that are available for virtually any skill level - beginning, intermediate, advanced. For students who are just learning how to read music, there are even repertoire collections that include tablature.

Sight Reading/Reading Skills

While you can find classical guitar repertoire with tablature (and it’s worth noting that, historically, tablature precedes standard notation), it’s important for you to learn how to read music and apply it to the guitar. While classical guitar doesn’t emphasize sight reading like, say jazz does, it’s important to be able to sit down and work your way through a piece of music sight unseen though most classical teachers will affirm that one’s reading skills best serve your ability to memorize a piece of music for performance or to add to one’s repertoire.

Musical Interpretation

The classical guitar, as primarly a solo instrument, is very expressive and requires the student to master certain aspects of musicality in order to interpret and communicate a piece of music properly. To that end, students will work on guitar techniques that are common to many styles of music besides classical - vibrato, slurring, legato, etc. - are all aspects of one’s technique that help contribute to a guitarist’s capacity to interpret a piece of music that translates well to performance. Many pieces do not have the markings that one might expect to interpret a piece of music, so it can be left to a performer to do so on his or her own.

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