[Home] [Up] | http://www.openguitar.com | Rev. Tue Aug 4 17:32:56 EDT 2009

Ten Lessons for Guitar

David Raleigh Arnold

Download PDF file

Ten Guitar Lessons

Corrections and Minor Revisions of “Ten Lessons” (tengtr.pdf)

These are the most important fixes in the lessons.[1] Please do not hesitate to contact me if you find more mistakes, and go ahead and pencil these changes into your copy:

  • Note: 4.1 number 4 on page 10 is played ititit... If you are using the flat pick, alternate down and up, starting with up. Yes, this is unusual, but it is better for this particular tune.
  • 8.1 No. 2 is played with thumb on the 5th and 6th strings and i and m otherwise, alternating, starting with i.
  • Appendix A, p19. The C7 has an ‘0’ at the 3rd string that shouldn’t be there, and the following A7 should have a ‘2’ on the 3rd fret of the 1st string.

Print the Ten Lessons

It might be good for all teachers, many parents, and some students to read this glowing general description[2] of the Ten Lessons. ☺

Supplements to the Beginning Lessons

Writing the Notes

I need to devise some writing tasks to help with learning the notes initially. No one teaches reading without writing, do they?

Getting Started with Slurs or Ligados

It would be nice to get to these in a first series, but not necessarily practical.


Duets for Additional Reading Practice

Nine Very Easy Guitar Duets




§1 The document was prepared using LaTeX, a collection of programs which its creators claim to be a document formatting system, and lilypond, a music typesetting program. Someday the ten lessons will be divided into a number of separate documents, for easier maintenance. I am unwilling to replace the document with a series of interim versions while I am still in the process of revising and replacing it, so this is going to take a while. Unfortunately, revising the document while keeping its present format would be a huge and frustrating undertaking.

I don’t mean that I am very unhappy with these lessons. On the whole I am very satisfied with them, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to improve them.

§2 Description:

About Ten Lessons for Guitar

Rhythm and Time

A big problem in learning the guitar is that there are many, many fundamentals. Unfortunately, the beginner is seldom a good judge of what the most important things are. The most important single thing in becoming a good musician is to understand rhythm, and the means of doing that is to understand musical time, not only by reading tunes but also by practicing rhythms in strumming.

Learning the Notes

Reading the notes on the staff lines is the easiest part of learning to read, but it sometimes can be one thing too many for the overtaxed distracted beginner. The notes are learned by the names at first, and no ground is lost because the names remain important forever. The notes are introduced at a very gradual rate, and there are frequent summaries. The theme and variations is a very old fashioned traditional way of working on learning the notes, and it is a very good way. Variations are easy to read because they are similar, but they must be read because they are not the same.

Learning the Chords

Learning the chords starts with the fingers close together on the fretboard and gets to the stretches later. The general rule is that one should learn the easiest fingering for a chord first. There is only the Dm as an exception to that rule.

The Right Hand

I like to rule out the flat pick for the first two sections because of the problem of stopping notes from sounding. Players who don't understand that notes have endings and not just beginnings remain very bad players. Minimizing the motion of the hand is also not a minor matter.

There is no mention of apoyando or rest or trap stroke for several reasons. This is a right hand issue of some importance, because unfortunately the false notion that it is possible to play decently with the last joint of the right hand fingers relaxed still has some currency. Much better to wait until the student is a strong player who has no tendency to relax anything, has repertoire which requires or at least justifies exploitation of the rest stroke, and has acquired the ability to suppress hyperextension of the last joint if it arises.


It is obvious at a glance to the experienced teacher that this document is intended for classes, but that it is extremely flexible in meeting the needs of people of varying abilities and interests. As a self instruction manual, we shall see. I look forward to some feedback.

(End of Foreword)

[Home] [Up]
©2007 David Raleigh Arnold - http://www.openguitar.com