For a beginner guitarist, I would have a hard time deciding on a single beginners book. I would recommend the following two titles, “Pumping Nylon” by Scott Tennant WITH the DVD, and the “Solo Guitar Playing” books 1 and 2 by Frederick M. Noad.

Pumping Nylon Is a great stand alone book, but the DVD is a must for beginners and experienced guitar players looking to jump into the world of classical guitar.  I had my initial doubts about this book due to it’s physical “Jock” style cover presentation.  Giving it the impression of a hook to appeal specifically for Heavy Metal macho Nascar types, I passed over it for some time.  Due to it’s popularity I finally picked it up to give it a fair review.  I found this to be a hardcore classical guitar book.  One of the best things I like about this book is it is direct to the point, without excess idle wordiness.  This makes it a great technical reference.  With the addition of the DVD, you have the extra color and filler so you can sink in what the book is talking about along with the personality of  Scott.   Scott Tennant is a masterful performer, one of the world famous L.A. Guitar Quartet.  He brings his core knowledge and understanding of classical guitar to the forground with this book.  His work is referenced and referred to by many of the leading performers.











Pumping Nylon w/ DVD on Amazon


Solo Guitar Playing books by Frederick Noad has a more beginners approach to the introduction of classical guitar.  Brushing these books off as a simple beginners book would be a mistake.  Just as the Pumping Nylon book, Solo Guitar Playing goes into the foundation of classical guitar and progresses through each detail of development in a more gradual pace than Pumping Nylon.  These books also work through some aspects of theory and specifically musical notation for reading music.  This is an absolute must for a beginning guitarist.  As you progress and work through these books, there are exercises, practices and pieces to work through along with key practice and performance notes for each piece.  With the Noad Solo Guitar books, you get a technique, theory and repertoire rolled up in one neat package that will serve you for many many years.  I would recommend the CD as that is always helpful, but look to youtube as there are many people who are diligently working to post the works from these books.

        Solo Guitar Playing on Amazon

Frederick M. Noad is a renown educator and performer of classical guitar, as well as an original founder of the Guitar Federation of America.  Noad was famed for his popular instructional television show,Guitar with Frederick Noad which was originally televised on PBS in the mid-1960s, resyndicated in color in the early 1980s, and continues to be broadcast today.  Frederick Noad had studied under both Andrés Segovia and also Julian Bream, Noad brings his knowledge and educational experience to bear in this series of must have books.

Classical Guitar Technique by Aaron Sheerer is a basic introduction to classical guitar along the lines of Solo Guitar Playing series but on a smaller reference.  The Aaron Sheerer series includes technique books 1 and 2, along with three additional supplimental books that cover more detailed aspects of classical guitar technique and theory, and an additional note speller for classical guitar.  This modular design makes this series an accessable study resource for students to progress through without a heavy cost up front.













Aaron Shearer was one of the most widely recognized and respected Classic Guitar teachers in America. He had been director of the guitar program at Peabody Conservatory and the North Carolina School of the Arts and towards the end of his life was adjunct professor of Classic Guitar at Duquesne University. Dr. Shearer had lectured throughout the United States and Canada, and had received numerous citations for his contributions to guitar pedagogy. In the early part of 2008, prior to his passing, Aaron Shearer finished his magnum opus “The Shearer Method” a comprehensive treatise that covers his entire approach to teaching and learning the Classic Guitar. This work is detailed not only with illustrations and examples but with insightful DVD presentations on hand movement and preparation. This work is slated to be published in late 2010.


Classical Guitar for Young People by Dr. Matthew Hinsley.  This is a newer book designed specifically for the young learner in an educational setting.  The cover of the book is clear and uncluttered, as is the learning path for the student.  The objective of the book is to deliver musical learning to a young student without being cluttered and in a fashion in which kids will learn best.  As if Dr. Hinsley had not done enough for the world of classical guitar, through his work and outreach with the Austin Classical Guitar Society and contributions for the development of not for profit organizations, he has brought his skill, experience and expertise to develop a highly successfull school based classroom classical guitar curriculum.  As an advocate for higher education for youth, Matthew has continued his work and passion with this guitar method.  The book is ideally used with the support of an instructor which involves the student participating in the creation of music from the get go.  For example, one of the first pieces has the student begins playing a duet with the teacher utilizing only open strings. The result is a wonderful piece that is highly musical and rewarding for the student and teacher alike.

On a side note, I am currently working on incorporating this into my guitar studio as a core lesson system.










Classical Guitar  for Young People   Also check out Dr. Matthew Hinsley and his fine work with classical guitar, the community and youth.


The Art of Classical Guitar Playing  Before Pumping Nylon, I was introduced to The Art of Classical Guitar Playing by Charles Duncan.  This book was used by my teacher in his University program performance degree.  He loaned the book to me for some time in which I copied out notes, diagrams and his foot notes that he made on the pages.  It was clear to me, this was a must have book.  I ordered this and subsequently the companion “Classical Guitar Playing 2000″.  Art of Classical Guitar Playing goes into the mechanics and some of the mental aspects of playing classical guitar to a higher level.  For more advanced players, I would highly recommend this book, as well as “Pumping Nylon” for a well rounded addition to their technical library.

Take a look inside with Google Books

The Art of Classical Guitar Playing                                             Classical Guitar 2000


Relaxed playing, and playing without tension are concepts covered in both “Pumping Nylon”, and “The Art of Classical Guitar Playing.”  This is a fairly difficult concept for a learning guitarist to comprehend.  It takes a great effort of self awareness and practice at relaxing to be able to learn how to relax.  At one time, I scoffed at guitar camps that included things such as yoga for guitarists.  Why would anyone waste their time on such fluff when there were master classes, recitals and other more serious workshops going on.  Now I know better!  Fortunately, with advanced lessons and also the help of “Classical Guitarist: Unlock Your Potential”, a book by guitarist Jean-François Desrosby the concepts and a method for relaxed playing can be learned, and one can begin to understand fully that which is laid out in Pumping Nylon and The Art of Classical Guitar Playing.

This by no means is a beginner book.  But it should also not be neglected by the serious beginning student.  I made constant use of a dictionary, clarifying terms and learning new concepts of physiology and biomechanics.  The only drawback I could criticize this book on is a need for more diagrams.  Not for the lack of diagrams present, but more for the lack of my own visual understanding.  Based on the medical technical terms used, and cross referencing dictionaries, I managed to make my own sketched diagrams to better my own understanding.  I would seriously love to be able to sit down for a session with Jean-François to review concepts he discusses.  I believe that such an opportunity would prove an invaluable lesson!

“Classical Guitarists: Unlock Your Potential” is a book to be taken seriously, and look for Jean-François Desrosby both in his performances and master classes.  As a teacher, I believe his students must be very fortunate indeed!



How Mucis Works is not a book, but rather a BBC Documentary with composer Howard Goodall.  Released in 2006, there is no associated DVD for this production.  There are 4 hour long episodes analysing the fundamental components of music which consist of:  Epidsode 1: Meldoy, Episode 2: Rhythm, Episode 3: Harmony, Episode 4: Bass.  The production value and content of these shows are superb and a pure joy to watch.  This is something that I recommend to everyone, students, friends, anyone who appreciates music or a good program to watch.  This can be found in many places on the internet, particularly on youtube.  Each program can be found in its entirety or broken down into smaller segments.

Episode 1: Melody

Episode 2: Rhythm

Episode 3: Harmony

Episode 4: Bass




Leonard Bernsteins Norton Lectues

For those of us who have not pursued a musical degree, or those that have not reached the hallowed halls of Harvard, forget the Big Bang Theory, for here there are the Leonard Bernstein famous Norton Lectures, “The Unanswered Question.”  This is a 6 part lecture on the higher levels of music it’s meaning.  It is a delight to watch the intellectual brilliance of Leonard Bernstein as he discusses and postulates concepts on music, communication and the thought process behind their development.  This is not for the faint hearted, each lecture is long, very long.  As elegent a speaker as he is, he packs a huge amount of meaning in every sentence.  Working through the first 3 lectures, I compiled a large amount of notes, stopping, starting, rewinding as I went.  The journey was well worth it.  I was fortunate enough to catch the first 3 on youtube, but the content has since been removed due to copyright issues. They can however still be found online in a video package ideal for the music studio!




120 Right Hand Studies by Mauro Giuliani are an essential study to begin after establishing the  rest stroke and free stroke for fingers and thumb.  Luckily, the work is public domain, and there are many sources on  the internet to find clean copies, or facimiles of the score for the work.  The exercises utilize simple chords, but as Jason Vieaux explains, the exercises work also as a left hand study as well.  Avoid placing the fingers at once in the chord shapes, and “walk” your fingers through the exercises.  This will establish a stronger, efficient technique.  So important are the exercises that they have been incorporated in one form or another into the requirements for RCM grading.  Study hard, and study smart with the ever proven Guiliani 120 Right Hand Studies.  It’s free!

 Royal Conservatory Of Music presents BRIDGES series for classical guitar

The RCM Bridges series is the latest repertoire book offered.  The RCM series offers an assorted selection of graded musical pieces and studies for the beginner to advanced guitarist including a preliminary level book.  Also in the series is the syllabus that outlines the graded requirements for RCM tests.  It’s very common in the guitar community for guitarists to exclaim that they are at a given level of guitar.  It’s one thing to play a high level graded piece, but that does not mean that the player is playing at that graded level.  The Bridges Guitar Technique book outlines all the specific requirements for each grade.  Scales, cadences, tremelo patterns, ear training, and sight reading.  To play at a given level, these are all required, to teach a given level of classical guitar requires a very solid understanding of these technical concepts.  That is the quality you get with RCM!  When you purchase an RCM repertoire book,for your level, you know that you will be challenged but able to play every piece given.  Each piece will have a different element of challenge for you, but they will all be within your grasp.  This makes the choice of RCM books economical for early and intermediate guitarists as opposed to buying assorted collection books which half the pieces may either be far below your ability or vastly above what you can play.

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