Classical Guitar - Books, Methods & Videos for Learning


Introduction


One only needs to walk into any big-box-bookstore or mom 'n pop music shop to get an idea of just how many products are now available on the topic of guitar instruction. Unfortunately, the resources stores promote too often are selected primarily for their ability to sell, rather than for their instructional value. While many of these well-promoted products can offer the immediate gratification of a hit song or some easy-to-learn guitar techniques, this overly simplistic, decontextualized presentation of these deceptively complex techniques and movements can instill bad habits in the student, which are difficult to break and can become deeply entrenched over time.

In an effort to combat the proliferation of these tempting but potentially pernicious purveyors of pretend pedagogy, I have devised the following list of some of the most reputable, readily available sources of guitar instruction that you can use for self-study, or as a supplement to lessons. Many of these books are frequently used in conservatories and in college-level guitar programs around the world. While by no means a complete list, anyone teaching or thinking about teaching the classical guitar should become well-acquainted with all of these sources.



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Instructional Books and Methods

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The Christopher Parkening Guitar Method - a new, comprehensive approach to teaching classical guitar written by accomplished international classical guitarist, Christopher Parkening. It includes exercises and guitar pieces, as well as historical background, basic technique, lots of textual information, photos and a useful appendix of terms. First time students of classical guitar can learn the rudiments as well as beautiful solo and duet guitar pieces.
Solo Guitar Playing/Book 1 - this classic book has been recently updated. It is a step-by-step approach containing about two years of material covering all aspects of guitar playing: reading music, memorizing, ear training, mastering the fingerboard, building dexterity and speed, and more. A version with a CD is also available.

Solo Guitar Playing II - a continuation of the above.

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Classical Guitar Answer Book, Sharon Isbin - a systematic exploration of a range of classical guitar topics pertaining to equipment, repertoire, practicing, fingernails, careers and more, by acclaimed concert artist and Julliard Guitar Department Head and founder, Sharon Isbin. This book answers many of the questions often overlooked in other instructional books that students ask when learning the classical guitar.   (front cover scan)

Learning the Classic Guitar : Part 1, Aaron Shearer - a relentlessly meticulous approach to classical guitar instruction by Aaron Shearer, not to be confused with his earlier best-selling classical guitar instructional series - now outdated. Used by more more college-level instructors than any other single source, this book and its subsequent volumes provide a progressive and thorough grounding in modern classical guitar technique.   (front cover scan)

Learning the Classic Guitar : Part 2 - a continuation of the above

Pumping Nylon, Scott Tennant - This recently published book by Scott Tennant, member of the prestigious Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ) is designed to be a "workout manual" for the classical guitar. It is packed with studies, exercises, stretches, speed builders, tips and tricks, as well as technique building music, including Mauro Giuliani's classic 120 Studies for the right Hand. The section on fingernails is indeed different from the mainstream, but by no means can be considered "incorrect" (especially after listening to him play!).   (front cover scan)

Art of Classical Guitar Playing, Charles Duncan - although not a "method" in the traditional sense, this is one of the most finely detailed sources of all the nuances of classical guitar technique, covering mechanics, functional and dysfunctional tension in both hands, traditional nail shape and care, articulation, velocity and more.







Classic Studies for Guitar

Melodic and Progressive Etudes, Op. 60, Matteo Carcassi - these are just beautiful, and make for wonderful background music for restaurant gigs, weddings and the like.

120 Studies for Right Hand Development, Mauro Giuliani - a classic, also found in a re-arranged version in Scott Tennant's book above.

Leo Brouwer: The Essential Studies - these studies by the world-renowned Cuban guitarist/composer are also good for gigs, if you have a somewhat more open-minded audience.

12 Etudes, Op. 29, Fernando Sor - the Sor studies have been studied at one time or another by virtually every serious classical guitarist for over 100 years. In addition to their pedagogical value, they are enchanting self-standing pieces as well.

Villa-Lobos 12 Etudes - He calls them mere studies, but have been part of nearly every major classical guitarist's concert repertoire for generations. A genuine cornerstone of the classical guitar repertory. The preceding link takes you to an affordable Villa-Lobos anthology of guitar works, "Heitor Villa-Lobos: Collected Works For Solo Guitar", also containing the 5 Villa-Lobos Preludes and other works. You can also buy a more professional edition of the Etudes only, if you wish.







Other Guitar Music

I personally have all these in my library, and highly recommend them. They are all very tastefully selected, carefully edited and exceptionally good value. You will get an excellent and indepth overview of the entire classical guitar repertory up to (but not including) the 20th century through this collection:

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Videos



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The Essentials of Classical Guitar with Benjamin Verdery - Ben Verdery, accomplished concert artist and chair of the guitar department at Yale University, has produced this exceptionally clear video, designed to help players improve their craft and/or provide an introduction to speed development, bars, stretches, and more.


Classical Guitar: Technique & Musicianship - this new video by pedagogue Frederic Hand teaches how to use correct classical positions in order to develop increased fluidity, better tone and overall facility on the instrument. Includes exercises and original pieces in both traditional music notation and tablature.






Useful Websites

WannaLearn.com: Classical Guitar - a well-selected collection of the top free-instructional sites devoted to the teaching and learning of the classical guitar.






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Classical Guitar - Books, Methods & Videos for Learning

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