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Effective: Fall 2012

Advisory: Advisory: This course is included in the Guitar Class Applied Performance family of activity courses.
Grade Type: Letter Grade, the student may select Pass/No Pass
Not Repeatable.
FHGE: Non-GE Transferable: CSU/UC
2 hours lecture, 1 hour laboratory. (36 hours total per quarter)

Student Learning Outcomes -
  • The successful student will be able to apply music theory as they perform beginning fingerpicking styles and categorize chords into primary and secondary triads.
  • Successful students will be able to make a comparison of folk and pop melodies based on an understanding of beginning right and left hand techniques.
Description -
A performance based course in beginning guitar (nylon, steel, or electric guitar) with a concentration on folk music. Traditional and popular songs will be used to demonstrate the development of right and left hand techniques. Standard music notation, tablature, and chord symbols will be presented and students can choose instrumental or popular vocal selections to play.

Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. Apply the fundamentals of music theory as they relate to the guitar.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of primary chord positions (I-IV-V) in C, G, D, A, & E.
  3. Analyze the form and structure of contemporary and traditional popular songs.
  4. Demonstrate strumming and finger-style techniques for folk and popluar song accompaniment.
  5. Memorize musical notation for the guitar (tablature, chord diagrams and standard notation).
  6. Practice how to change chords rhythmically using different meters.
  7. Examine left hand technique (alternating bass, hammering-on, pulling off, and bass runs).
  8. Examine right hand technique (strumming, arpeggios, and finger picking).
  9. Compare the contributions made in the guitar repertoire from people of diverse backgrounds and cultures with changes in technology.
Special Facilities and/or Equipment -
  1. Classical, steel string, or electric guitar
  2. Music staff paper.
  3. Classroom with staff lined board.
  4. Music stands.
  5. Access to AV equipment, DVD and CD player.
  6. When taught via Foothill Global Access:
    1. On-going access to computer with Email software and capabilities.
    2. Email address.
    3. Java-script enabled internet browsing software.

Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
This course is a study of the guitar in the pop music idiom. Through analysis, singing, performing and listening, various songs and styles will be studied. This is a performance based course with the broad range of folk and popular music as its subject matter.
  1. Rudiments of music
    1. Note values, meter, chord theory, and transposition
  2. Guitar maintenance
    1. Tuning, how to change strings, sitting and holding the instrument
  3. History of folk music
    1. European influences
    2. American style (Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotton, Pete Seeger, Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Leo Kottke, Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and others)
  4. Techniques and skills in the folk style
    1. Finger-style picking
    2. Strumming
    3. Use of a pick
    4. Tablature reading, note reading, and chord identification
    5. Bass runs, arpeggios
  5. Exposure to performance in this art form
    1. Live performance
    2. Media: video, and DVDs.
Methods of Evaluation -
  1. Tests and Research
    1. 2 written, and 3 performance midterms
    2. Final written and performance test
    3. Research on a favorite guitarist
    4. Reading and performing in required texts
    5. Song comparison essay
Representative Text(s) -
Shipton, Russ, The Complete Guitar Player, Music Sales Corporation, 2002.
Leonard, Hal, Play Guitar Today Level 1, with CD, Hal Leonard Corporation, 1999.
Leonard, Hal, The Ultimate Guitar Scale Chart, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2000.
Leonard, Hal, Basic Guitar Chord Chart, Santorella Publications, 2004.

Disciplines -
Method of Instruction -
Lecture, Discussion, Cooperative learning exercises, Self-paced, Oral presentations, Electronic discussions/chat, Independent study, Laboratory, Demonstration.
Lab Content -
One hour of supervised in class guitar practice is required per week.
  1. Additional Resources:
    1. Library : books for MUS 15A are on reserve at the front desk. The books cover a wide spectrum of music theory and folk music
    2. Media Center: Film and Music Review: 7 segments of Martin Scorsese's PBS special on "The Blues."
    3. On-line resources: The Smithsonian Institute ( and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ( Artist assignments will vary by quarter.
Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
This project consists of the following 3 parts:
  1. Oral Presentation (30 points)
  2. Two 3x5 cards turned in on the day of the presentation (35 points)
  3. Directed listening: representative musical example presented for listening analysis (35pts)

Similarities and Differences Assignment
  1. Select 2 songs that you have played in class and make a copy of each.
    1. Title of the 2 songs
    2. Write a short paper and make a comparison noting what is similar and what is different between the 2 songs, whether they are instrumental or folk songs with words. Some of you have been working on instrumental folk songs, classical pieces, or blues songs so feel free to make a choice between any 2 songs that you enjoy playing. Here are some possible ideas:
      1. The song length
      2. Instrumental or vocal style
      3. Accompaniment style (alternating bass, bass runs, movable chords strumming, arpeggio, finger-picking)
      4. Reading method: tablature, standard notation, or chord symbols
      5. Key
      6. Subject matter of the lyrics (conversational, political, philosophical?)
      7. Poetic devices: rhyme, alliteration, simile, repetition, metaphor, assonance personification, symbolism, onomatopoeia. BE SURE TO ANALYZE AND WRITE ON THE LYRIC SHEET FOR THIS PART
      8. Form (verse, chorus, bridge?)
      9. Style
      10. Melody (stepwise or large intervals?)
      11. Rhythm
      12. Chord analysis
      13. Performance challenges on the guitar and how you solved them
      14. Something you learned about the guitar from playing this song
      15. Why you selected these 2 songs