Classical Guitar 101


Authored by David Newsam


Course Code: OGUIT-210

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Though the roots of classical guitar trace back to the 1600s, you can continue to hear its influence on contemporary music from around the world. Rock guitarists such as Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Ozbourne) and Robby Krieger (The Doors), Brazilian composers Heitor Villa-Lobos and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and countless others have drawn inspiration from the great works of the classical guitar repertoire. Fundamentals of Classical Guitar offers a structured, active, and comprehensive entrance into the world of classical guitar, and is a perfect fit for students with pick-style electric and acoustic guitar backgrounds.

Read More

The course begins by providing an important perspective on the history of classical guitar, including its artists and the regions in which the music developed. You will also learn about and gain an appreciation of the role that classical guitar plays in the development of rock, folk, acoustic, and Latin American musical styles.

You'll move on to develop a foundation for the techniques of executing arpeggios and scales for the picking hand, and applying these techniques to music from the past four centuries. Once these skills are developed, the course introduces more advanced techniques, including harmonics, tremolo, and rasgueado, using an ever-expanding repertoire.

The course will explore Brazilian rhythm guitar styles, flamenco, tango, and songs from folk, classic, and contemporary rock styles. Each week's assignment will include a solo performance piece and a duet to be performed to a pre-recorded backing track. Students can work at a pace that is challenging but not overwhelming, allowing for more advanced players to perform more challenging versions of the weekly assignments for extra credit.

The course material will be presented with extensive tab/notation, audio, and video, with music broken down into simple concepts that allow you to more easily master them. By the end of the course, you will have a foundational, working repertoire for the classical guitar that includes etudes, methods, and solo works from composers Mauro Giuliani, Matteo Carcassi, Fernando Sor, Francisco Tarrega, Leo Brouwer, and many more.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Fingerpick complex arpeggio patterns for the right-hand
  • Play exercises, scales, and melodies using multiple right-hand finger combinations
  • Perform a variety of solo works from the classical repertoire
  • Develop an extensive repertoire of techniques, including tremolo, rasguedo, harmonics, slurs, and percussion effects
Read Less
Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
Request Info


Lesson 1: Getting Started with the Classical Guitar

  • Background and History of the Classical Guitar
  • Classical Guitar Notation Explanation
  • Considerations for Classical Guitarists
  • Arpeggios
  • Alternating Finger Patterns for Right Hand
  • Chamber Music

Lesson 2: Arpeggios and Major/Minor Scale Development

  • Arpeggio Variations
  • Open Position Major Scales
  • Introduction to Minor Scales
  • Fretboard Note Location

Lesson 3: Articulation of Melodies in Arpeggios

  • Blame It on the Bossa Nova
  • Minor Scales
  • Melody on Annular Finger in Arpeggio
  • 3-Note Arpeggio Patterns

Lesson 4: Melody in Bass Voice

  • Melody in Bass
  • Shifts on a Single String
  • Two-Octave Scale Forms and Arpeggios
  • 3-Note Arpeggio Patterns
  • Vibrato Technique

Lesson 5: Two-Part Melodic Playing

  • Melodies in Two Voices
  • Brazilian Rhythm
  • 5-String Arpeggio Patterns
  • Two-Octave Scales
  • Introduction to Tremolo

Lesson 6: Tremolo Techniques

  • Introduction to Rasgueados
  • Melody on Ring Finger within an Arpeggio
  • Slurs
  • Two-Octave Minor Scale Forms
  • Tremolo

Lesson 7: Flamenco Technique

  • 5-string Arpeggio Variations
  • Rasgueado
  • Melody on A and M within an Arpeggio Pattern
  • Continue Slurs

Lesson 8: Three Octave Major Scales and Arpeggios

  • 6-string Arpeggio Variations
  • Three-Octave Major Scales
  • Harmonics
  • Three-Octave Major Arpeggios

Lesson 9: Harmonic and Drop-D Techniques

  • Three-Octave Minor Scales
  • Artificial Harmonics
  • Drop D tuning
  • Muting

Lesson 10: Percussive Techniques

  • Speed Builders
  • Percussive Techniques
  • Tango
  • Whole-Tone Scale

Lesson 11: Classical Guitar and Popular Music

  • Classical Arrangements of Popular Music
  • Advanced Percussive Techniques
  • Open String Scales
  • Spanish Guitar Master Francisco Tarrega

Lesson 12: Classical Guitar Alternative Techniques

  • Classical Arrangements of Rock Music
  • Diminished Scales
  • Prepared Guitar
  • Practice Routine


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Guitar Chords 101 and Guitar Scales 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.Students should have:

  • a basic knowledge of the fretboard, scales, triads, seventh chords, music notation, and music theory
  • the ability to tune their guitar into tunings other than standard EADGBE


  • No textbooks required


  • Students are required to record video while performing with a backing track for their assignments. Options for recording video include:
    • Smartphone
    • Digital camera
    • Webcam (using either video recording software, or the video recording tool that is built into the learning environment)


  • Acoustic guitar
  • Capo
  • Recommended: Chromatic tuner (software/app acceptable)


  • Students are required to capture their performance, as well as monitor audio output. Options include:
    • Input (one required):
      • XLR microphone and audio interface (recommended option)
      • USB microphone
      • Built-in computer/mobile device microphone
    • Output (one required):
      • Headphones (required if multitracking and/or input monitoring)
      • Studio monitors and audio interface
      • Built-in or external speakers
  • Note: Depending on your setup, you may also need an XLR cable, microphone stand, and pop filter.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


David Newsam

Author & Instructor

David Newsam has been teaching at Berklee College of Music since 1989 as a member of the Guitar and Professional Music departments. He is the director of the Classical Guitar Chamber program at Berklee and teaches private lessons on classical and jazz guitar. David has performed in concerts and clinics with many noted musicians, among them guitarists Jim Hall, Bucky Pizzarelli, Gene Bertoncini, Peter Bernstein, and Howard Alden; pianists Dave McKenna and James Williams; drummers Ed Shaugnessy, Louis Bellson, Bob Moses, and Alan Dawson; and jazz legends Clark Terry, Phil Wilson, Joe Williams, and Milt Jackson. He is the former Artistic Director of the Boston Classical Guitar Society, and is a member of the Back Bay Guitar Trio. David grew up in Connecticut where he was a student of Robert Shaw, and he is a graduate of Berklee College of Music where he studied with Jim Kelly, Larry Baione, and William Leavitt.

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Classical Guitar 101 can be applied towards the completion of these related programs:


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

Get Info