Ok, so I was a month late.
In my defence, after Dave and I reviewed the initial draft, we doubled the length of it to a full 60 pages or songs, exercises and techniques, so it's a very comprehensive introduction to playing classical guitar!
The book, Classical Champion, mirrors our Classical Champion course that we offer to students. We often pull elements from each of our courses to create each students personalised guitar journey, so for current students, we'll get you a copy of the book if it's relevant for you (or if you are keen to explore a new genre).
If you're wondering whether or not Classical Guitar is for you, check out this guide which explains the benefits of learning beginner classical guitar.
Now, onto the fun stuff. Let's go through what the course covers!
Everything in the Classical Champion course is written in standard notation, from chords to songs to exercises, so if you don't know how to read music yet, you sure as hell will by the end of the course!
Specifically, we'll get you comfortably reading songs in 4 keys with a variety of rhythms, which is enough for you to be able to work out pretty much any song in standard notation in any style (it's kinda like when you first learn to read tabs - once you have the basics down, you can read any song. Playing it however, may be a bit more of a challenge).
We mostly focus on open position to begin with, with a few extra challenges reading up the fretboard in the later songs.
Keys become a lot more restrictive in classical than they are in rock when you're first starting out, as certain keys are easier to play and read on the guitar.
The Classical Champion course starts you in:
- C Major,
- A Harmonic Minor
- G major and
- E Harmonic Minor
All the songs and exercises are in one of these 4 keys, which happen to be the most common for the guitar, so you'll become pretty great at them.
Future books will cover other keys, but you don't necessarily need to learn the ins and outs of each key before you play a song in that key, so don't let that hold you back from trying songs outside of this book in other keys.
Diatonic Chords & Scales
I hope I haven't lost you with a scary word like 'diatonic'. All it means is that we're going to teach you all of the chords within each of the 4 keys - the 'diatonic' chords, which are the chords that are made up from the notes within the original key without any alterations.
This means you'll have to work on a few augmented and diminished chords, which aren't as common outside of classical guitar, but many of the major and minor chord shapes should be more familiar.
The scales are all in open position, and are great warmups to try when you're working on fretting or picking technique.
Classical Guitar Exercises
3 unique exercise types are included in the course, which cover:
- using your picking fingers correctly to make classical pieces easier to play and more fluent
- rasgueado strumming, which is what all the crazy fast Spanish and flamenco techniques use for their awesome rhythms
- tremelo picking, which is for super fast picking along one string as a really impressive rhythmic techniques
If you can master these 3 techniques, you can pretty confidently tackle most classical pieces from a picking hand technical point of view.
The Best Classical Guitar Songs (Solo & Duet)
We've got arrangements of Spanish pieces, Romantic pieces, Classical pieces, Waltzes - you name it - to give you a really full repertoire of beginner songs to learn.
From there, you'll start to get a feel of what you enjoy the most, which will help you choose the next few songs to perform after this book too (chances are if you like one piece by a composer, you'll probably enjoy their other compositions too).
Many of these songs are arranged as duets and solo pieces, which gives you multiple performance options too.
Am I at the right level to start this course?
This isn't a complete beginner course, so you will need to know:
- How to play with your fingers
- Basic open chord shapes
- The basic notes on the guitar in open position (you'll get better with this during the course, so don't worry if you're not super comfortable with every note yet)
- How to play a few simple songs on the guitar
Note that you don't need to know how to sight read music yet, and you don't need to know any music theory either (though you will by the end).
Now, if you're already a very proficient player in another style, or your technical skills aren't the best, there are multiple levels for many of the songs and exercises in the book, so you can always jump straight to the harder levels if the simpler levels aren't challenging enough for you or stick to the easier levels if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed.
The lower level songs still sound great on their own, so you'll be able to play some awesome songs no matter which version you attempt.
Where do I get the book?
Currently, the Classical Champion book is only available for current students, so if you're not currently enrolled in lessons with us, please book yourself in for an evaluation lesson here and we can run you through what's involved.
Later on, I'd love to make this course available online, but we need to create some more supporting material before that dream can become a reality (many techniques are simple to explain in person with direct feedback between teacher and student, but aren't effective to learn from a book alone).
If that's something you're keen on finding out more about, join our free Guitar Master Club below and we'll send you any updates on the online course as it's developed.
In the words of Beethoven, "Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman," so (without judging Beethoven for being sexist) pick up your nylon string and start lighting fires and melting hearts!