Beginning Guitar Class

Instructor: Andrew Pfaff (

Departmental Supervisor: Dr. Chevalier (



Course Description

         Beginning Guitar is an introduction to playing the guitar.  Using an individualized approach, students learn how to hold and tune a guitar, how to read music from standard notation, and how to play chords and melodies. Students are shown guitar techniques by written example and presentation as well as performed examples. Students receive individual attention to resolve specific problems and obstacles in playing. This course culminates in a public recital near the end of the school year.  Our recital takes place near the end of the school year.  The date will be published in the calendar of events.  It is scheduled in two performances due to the number of students.  You will participate in either the 4:30 or 7:30 performances, but not both.



Required Texts/Materials

Bay, William and Christiansen, Mike. Mastering the Guitar CLASS METHOD Level 1/Beginning 9th Grade and Higher, 1st ed. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications, 2000. There are guitars and textbooks available in class.  Outside of class time, however, you will want to have access to a playable guitar.  IÕm happy to help you with restringing your old guitar or doing other light maintenance to an instrument you bring in to help make it playable.  Please donÕt hesitate to ask.

We play from the textbook nearly every day in class, and classroom textbooks are provided. However, I have a limited number of textbooks available for you to check out and bring home if you wish.

All students are required to join and regularly consult the BCTHS Beginning Guitar 2016-17 Edmodo group.  The group code will be given in class.  Please join this group at your first opportunity.  I will check to make sure you all join.



Grading Policy

         You are graded on Progress and Performance.    


50% of grade:  Group Progress - How are you progressing as a group member? 

Some of you may be hesitant or scared, because you are learning a musical instrument for the first time, or for a variety of other reasons not feel confident in your ability to learn guitar.  Part of my mission is to help you get over that!  I need you to demonstrate a good faith effort in learning the material we cover in class.  This means cooperating by playing along when we practice music as a group, keeping an attitude of helpfulness to fellow students at all times, and being willing to accept help from me and others. This portion of the grade addresses you as a member of a group, and will be a daily mark I enter into Powerschool adhering to the following rubric:

A = Responsive, engaged, actively listening/participating in group practice

B = Mostly responsive, needs gentle encouragement to engage in group practice or reminder to listen. 

C = Resists or ignores reminders to attend to shared class activity or listening. 

D = Takes out non-class related item (i.e smartphone or other device not part of class activity) or outside work instead of attending to shared class activity/discussion/listening. 

F = Persists in actively disengaging from classroom activity despite reminders/warnings.


50% of grade:  Individual Performance - How are you progressing as an individual player? 

Approximately once every two weeks I will have brief 1-on-1 meetings in class so that I can hear how you're doing with the material we've covered. I'll give you feedback specific to what I feel you should focus on, and at the next session I will determine if you've used that feedback constructively as you continue in the class.  This way, I can be sure I'm assessing you on your individual progress, since everyone's progress will be different and unique.    

Each round of 1-on-1 meetings will cover the work weÕve done since the previous round of meetings.  For the current material at the time of each meeting, I will apply the following rubric:

Scoring:  F (0)--------D (1)--------------------------C (2)-------------------B (3)---------------------A (4)

                  needs extra help               emerging skill         proficient        highly proficient


The Final Exam is a public class recital performance.

The recital is scheduled for near the end of the school year.  The exact date will be published in the calendar of events.  Your performance time will be either at 4:30 or 7:30 p.m. in the Auditorium.  You should arrive 30 minutes prior to warm up and tune up. This recital is your Final exam. You must have a signed note from your parent or guardian to be excused from the performance.  Only then can an alternate final be arranged.  This note should reach me PRIOR to the performance, except in the case of an emergency. 


Classroom Expectations

         My expectations for you in guitar class do not come from rules. In my classroom, instead of rules, we have reasons.


You are expected to:  Come to class on time.  Reason: your lateness means we all have to slow down while you tune your guitar or otherwise catch up to where we are in that day's lesson. We do not want to disrespect our fellow classmates' time, which is limited. 


You are expected to:  Help each other learn.  Reason: we may arrive at guitar class with differing levels of experience or background.  You may have a way to explain or demonstrate something to another student that helps that student. Or, that student may be able to offer you help. Your level of enjoyment in playing the guitar is in direct proportion to your ability to be open to learn from all available sources.        


You are expected to:  Work well with others AND independently.  Reason: you will build individual skills on your instrument that you will then use when playing together as a group. The group will only be as good as everyone's individual effort and our collective cooperation.              


You are expected to: Play guitar outside of class (if you have access to one).  Reason: you will learn better (more importantly have more fun) if you find what excites and motivates you personally about the guitar. Work on songs you like that you find in sheet music form or in chord charts with lyrics on the internet. Get together with friends and play. Exchange things you've learned how to do.     





In Closing

         IÕm here because I love music, and itÕs been vitally important to me all my life.  Each year I teach, I learn a wealth of new information myself, and renew my awe and wonder at the power of music.  I am sure this year will be the same and IÕm looking forward to having you share the journey with me.


         Musically Yours,


                  Mr. Pfaff