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Guitar Department Handbook

Mr. Swick


Contact Information: E-mail:

Phone: 702-799-7800 Ext.  4009

Office hours: Daily 10:00 – 11:00 and 12:30 – 2:00

Course Description:  This course is designed to assist students in playing the guitar.  Students will receive guidance and direction in solving problems related to playing the guitar on all levels and will learn many of the different styles, skills and techniques required to become a successful musician.  Areas of concentration include: correct posture, note-reading, aural skills, rhythmic patterns, chord study, finger-picking styles, melody construction, musical forms and performing experiences.


Course Goals for Beginning and Intermediate Guitar Classes:

1.      To develop independence and strength in both left and right hands.

2.      To learn to recognize and know the placement of all notes in both first and fifth positions.

3.      To learn to recognize and execute intermediate-level rhythms.

4.      To analyze simple chord progressions and be able to play the guitar as an accompaniment instrument.

5.      To learn to read multiple voices and play the guitar as a solo instrument.

6.      To be able to perform two octaves Major, Mixolydian and Dorian scales in every key.

7.      To be able to perform two octave arpeggios for all Major, Mixolydian, and Dorian scales.

8.      To learn to execute dynamics, timbre and tempo.


Course Goals for Advanced Guitar Class:

  1. To develop independence and strength in both left and right hands.
  2. To learn to recognize and know the placement of all notes in first, fifth, second and seventh positions.
  3. To learn to recognize and execute advanced-level rhythms.
  4. To analyze intermediate-level chord progressions and be able to play the guitar as an accompaniment instrument.
  5. To learn to read multiple voices and play the guitar as a solo instrument.
  6. To be able to perform two octaves Major, Mixolydian, Dorian, Natural Minor, and Locrian scales in every key.
  7. To be able to perform two octave arpeggios for all Major, Mixolydian, Dorian, Natural Minor and Locrian scales.
  8. To learn to execute dynamics, timbre and tempo.


Course Objectives:

1.      To enrich and enhance the life of each student through music.

2.      To develop in each student a respect for music.

3.      To cultivate responsibility and mutual respect among students.

4.      To understand the basic elements of music: melody, harmony and rhythm.

5.      To experience music as a tool of individual and group expression.

6.      To become familiar with the music of various cultures, ages and styles.

7.      To deal with the discipline and challenges of learning a musical instrument.

8.      To develop skills of critical analysis.

9.      To share the result in the form of live performance.



All levels of guitar classes follow CCSD curriculum guidelines.  Brief course descriptions can be found in the Course Catalog at Varisty 1 information is available at  The Edmodo code for the class is 3ekj71.  Varsity 2 code is xfxfyv.  Varisty 3 code is 4e996v.

Guitar will be a foundation for playing in a wide variety of styles.  Students will learn both the

melodic side of the guitar as well as how to use the guitar as an accompaniment instrument. 

Right-hand techniques will include playing with a flat pick as well as finger-style.  Left-hand

techniques will include learning all of the notes in various positions, major scales in all keys

and chords in all keys.  Improvisation and introductory music writing will be discussed and



Four-Year Outline:

    First Year

        Complete "First Position Studies" 1-16

        Complete "Jazz Rhythms" 1-16

Complete "Right-Hand Preparatory", "Book One," "Book Two," "Thomas Coffey,"       and "Book Three" from the classical guitar Repertoire Series

Learn and perform assigned parts to various ensemble pieces for a minimum of four performances

    Second Year

        Complete "Wohlfahrt Studies" 1-16

        Complete "Jazz Rhythms" 17-32

        Complete "Gasper Sanz," "Robert DeVisee," "Ferdinando Carulli," and "Matteo Carcassi”  from the classical   guitar Repertoire Series

 Learn and perform assigned parts to various ensemble pieces for a minimum of four performances

    Third Year

        Complete "Wohlfahrt Studies" 17-32

        Complete "Jazz Rhythms" 33-40 Vol. 1 and studies 1-8 in Vol. 2

        Complete "Dionisio Aguado," "Finger-Picking Good," "Mauro Guilianni," and "Fernando Sor" from the classical guitar Repertoire Series

 Learn and perform assigned parts to various ensemble pieces for a minimum of four performances

        Perform in a recital

   Fourth Year

        Complete "Wohlfahrt Studies" 33-36

        Complete "C. Rose Studies" 1-12

        Complete "Jazz Rhythms" 9-22 Vol 2.

Complete "Finger-Picking Good Vol. 2," "Ferdinando Carulli Vol. 2," "Francisco Tarrega," and "Heitor Villa-Lobos" from the classical guitar Repertoire Series

        Learn and perform assigned parts to various ensemble pieces for a minimum of four performances

      Perform in the Senior Recital    


Books & Materials: All books and materials will be supplied as part of the class fee.  Students will need to provide a 3-ring notebook which will hold all class materials and will be brought to class each day.  Students should not remove any materials from this notebook during the school year.


Students will also need a guitar pick each day, a pencil, and a polishing cloth.






Grades: Grades will be earned according the following formula:

1.       All grades will be distributed between two assessment buckets: formative and summative. Weighted percentages will be as follows:

30% formative, 70% summative

2.       Students will have the opportunity to retake any exam one time for a maximum of 75% of the new score.  This also applies to all playing tests that are 3 or more days late.

3.        Semester Final Exam is 20% of the semester grade.   This will consist of a written final exam which will count for 10% and a performance jury which will count for 10%.  Combined, the two exams will county for 20% of the semester grade.

Late Work Policy:  Students may make up unexcused late work for a maximum of 75% of the score.  This applies to any work which is 3 or more days late.   Any make-up after 10 school days will receive only 50%.


Make-up Work: After any absence, a secondary student is required to initiate contact with the teacher(s) to obtain appropriate makeup work within three school days immediately following the absence. Once contact has been made with the teacher(s), specific makeup work must be completed and returned to the teacher(s) within a reasonable length of time, to be determined by the teacher and communicated to the student/parent or guardian. The makeup work must be returned to the teacher(s) by the specific due date if it is to be acknowledged.  Students shall be allowed a minimum of three (3) days to complete makeup work.


Citizenship Grade:  Every student begins each quarter with an “O” (outstanding) and will maintain an “O” unless s/he gives cause for the grade to be lowered.


Progressive Discipline:  In order to guarantee students in the guitar classroom the positive learning climate they

deserve, the following discipline plan is utilized.  Every student is expected to:


1.   Follow directions.

2.   Keep hands, feet and objects to oneself.

3.   Play or speak only after being recognized and given permission.

4.   Be on time and seated with instrument, pencil, music and polish cloth.

5.   Avoid bringing gum, food or beverages into the classroom.


Consequences for Breaking Class Rules

1.  Verbal warning

2.  Putting instrument away for the remainder of the class

3.  Phone call or note to parents

4.  Behavior Referral & lowered citizenship grade


Each action will be accompanied by the loss of daily participation points.  The above consequences are not listed in any order.  Any one consequence may be used depending

on the severity of the action of the student.  Any behavior which disrupts the entire class is considered cause for administrative discipline.


Tardies: “Being on time” is an excellent personal trait that is highly valued by society and employers. Students are expected to be on time to school and to each of their classes.  Student tardiness is a serious disruption to the educational process.  Any student who is more than thirty (30) minutes late to class will be counted absent for that class.  These absences are included in the total number of absences accumulated by a student.  Students that are habitually tardy to classes may be:

·         Required to attend “Lunch & Learn” Detention

·         Required to attend after school detention

·         Receive a reduced Citizenship Grade

·         Placed on Required Parent Conference (RPC) where parents and administration may develop further incentives to ensure students are not tardy


Recommended Materials/Supplies:


Music Prodigy:

Music Prodigy is an assessment app which works on most mobile devices, a lap top and/or desk top computer allowing students to perform and be graded.  Students are assigned two performance pieces each week, one single-note study and one classical solo piece.  Each student has an assigned day of the week in which his/her assignment is due.


The assignment is to perform each of the two pieces a minimum of 10 times each week in the Assessment Mode.  The highest score will be recorded.  Students may perform as many times as they wish until their desired goal is reached.  If a student achieves a 100% prior to playing 10 times, they may stop.  The goal for each student is to achieve mastery (100%) on each of the two pieces each week.

Why Use Music Prodigy?

          Each student is100% in control of his/her grade. 

          The assessments are 100% objective

          Each performance in Music Prodigy is recorded

Each performance provides a graded copy of the music so students may have a visual assessment

          Each performance is followed by a score providing for immediate feedback

          Incorporating technology in the learning process makes the experience relevant

          Each student has documentation of his/her practice time for the week


Best Practices Using Music Prodigy

Each student has 7 days each week from one test date to the next.  For best results, students will perform and assess their assigned pieces 2 times each day for 6 or 7 days and will have documentation of daily practice.


Waiting until the day before or day of to perform all 10 times does not provide the same results as playing 2 or 3 times each day, every day.


Missing Assignment

Any student who does not complete his/her two assignments on the due date will receive a missing assignment.  Like all missing assignments, students will have 3 class periods to do a make-up.  After 3 days, students will only receive 75% of the graded score.


Solo Pieces

In addition to performing into Music Prodigy each week, students will perform their solo pieces for the teacher with the intention of having points added for tone quality and musicianship.  At no time will the Music Prodigy score ever be lowered in this process.


The Cost

The cost to use Music Prodigy is $35 a year per student.  Music Prodigy is so important that we use the $40 semester fee to cover the costs, so there are no additional fees, but it makes paying the semester fee on time even more important.  Annual fees are due no later than the last school day in September.


Lab Fees:

All guitar students will be responsible for paying a $40 lab fee due at the beginning of the school year. Fees include maintenance of classroom guitars, replacement strings, Solo Repertoire Books (which students keep), technique books such as "Jazz Rhythms Vol. 1 & 2," "First Position Studies," "Fifth Position Studies,"  "Chord Melodies Vol. 1 & 2,"  etc. (all which students keep) and a one-year subscription to Music Prodigy.  Fees should be paid no later than the last school day in September.


Daily Participation, Daily Attendance and Concert Attendance:

Due of the nature of this activity, personal attendance, attitude and participation in daily

rehearsals affect the product of the entire ensemble.  For this reason, great importance is placed on this area.  Please keep in mind when contemplating tardiness, absences and behavior in class.


Every member of the guitar class is a key performer and has a vital role in the musical ensemble. The success of the entire ensemble depends upon EVERYONE attending each performance. PERFORMANCES ARE NOT OPTIONAL!  PERFORMANCES ARE A REQUIRED PART OF THE CLASS. Dates and times of a performances are posted on the class website:  Here is the link for the list of performances:    


Students will be dismissed from performances ONLY after the stage has been completely cleared and all equipment has been returned to the classroom.  Students leaving before dismissal till receive no credit for participation for the performance.


Peer Review:

All students are required to complete a Peer Review each quarter, or a total of four per year.  Students will attend a school music performance other than a guitar performance and complete a Peer Review Critique.  Failure to complete a quarterly Peer Review will result in a lowered quarter grade.  All Peer Reviews are due 3 school days following the event.



Concert Dress:

          The uniform for formal public performances for Varsity 2 & 3 will be a black tuxedo, white tux shirt, black bow tie, black socks and black shoes.  The price may vary depending on where this is purchased.  We recommend Jerry’s Tux Shop located at 8650 W. Tropicana.  The phone number is (702)248-4777.


          Varsity 2 & 3 girls will be expected to wear a tea-length, black dress with black shoes.  This is the standard dress for all LVA formal music performances.


The uniform for informal public performances and trips will include the LVA Guitar Black Polo shirt, solid black dress pants, solid black belt, solid black socks and solid black dress shoes.   Jeans and tennis shoes are absolutely unacceptable!  The Guitar Polo Shirt will be made available for sale at school shortly after school begins.  The cost will be $20.  All guitar students are expected to purchase this shirt and only need to do so one time unless it needs to be replaced.


Varsity 1 students will not need a tuxedo or formal wear, but will need the LVA Guitar Polo Shirt, black dress pants, black belt, black socks and black dress shoes.  


Daily Participation Points:

Every student begins each quarter with 100 points in participation.  Each day is worth 2.2 points.  Students may lose their daily participation points for tardiness, class disturbance, refusal to participate, missing materials, etc.  Lost participation points may be made up.


Class Placement:

Each student will be placed into a guitar class based on skill level.  There are three levels, Varsity 1, Varsity 2 and Varsity 3.  In order for a student to progress to the next level class, s/he must earn a grade of a “B” or better and a citizenship grade of “S” or better for all four quarters of the school year.  Earning a quarter grade of a “C” or lower may result in the student remaining in Varsity 1 or Varsity 2 with no promotion.  A student in Varsity 3 who does not maintain a “B” average may be placed in Varsity 2 the following year. 


In the event more students qualify to move to the next level than there are available seats, placement will be decided by grades and the following additional considerations.


Additional considerations for progression to the next level:


1.       Attend all concerts and rehearsals

2.       Follow the dress code and uniform requirements for all performances

3.       Perform a minimum of 8 solos per quarter

4.       Do not exceed five absences per quarter (20 per school year)

5.       Turn in a Peer Review each quarter 3 days following the event

All students will follow the Four-Year Outline described earlier regardless of ensemble placement.


Travel-Varsity 3 Only: 

Varsity 3 is the premier guitar ensemble at LVA and frequently competes for the opportunity to perform at national music conventions and/or national guitar festivals.  Every year since the inception of the guitar program, Varsity 3 has traveled to participate in one or more national conventions or festivals.  These trips are educationally sound and have been the highlight of many guitar students' experiences at LVA.


All students in Varsity 3 are expected to travel.  These trips are NOT OPTIONAL.  Any student wishing not to travel during the school year may opt to be removed from Varsity 3 the first week of school.


It is the teacher’s discretion if a student travels with the group or not.  Considerations include academic eligibility, classroom behavior, disciplinary record, medical considerations, history with the student, etc.


Costs and Commitments for the LVA Guitar Program:


1.       There is a $40 annual fee all guitar students

3.       Varsity 2 & 3 students will need formal wear for concerts.  Boys will wear a tuxedo and girls will wear a formal, tea-length black dress.  The costs of these items may vary.

4.       Students participating in Solo & Ensemble and Honor Guitar Ensemble will be asked to pay fees.  The cost is $5 per round for Solo & Ensemble and $25 for Honor Guitar.

5.       Varsity 3 students will have the cost of travel.  Most trips are approximately $200.

6.       It is recommended each student own a better-than-beginning quality classical, nylon string guitar.



1.       LVA Guitar classes meet daily for 84 minutes

2.       Students are expected to practice daily lessons outside of class

3.       It is recommended students take private lessons

4.       All guitar class performances are required attendance

2.       Students will be expected to purchase an LVA Guitar Polo Shirt for $20

5.       Students will have weekly playing tests

6.       Students will have a semester exam and a semester jury (performance exam)

7.       Students will attend at least one performance each quarter other than a guitar performance and write a Peer Review

8.       From time to time, there will be after school rehearsals and weekend commitments which will all be a part of the final grade


Academic Dishonesty:  Includes, but is not limited to, cheating on tests, plagiarism and collusion.

bullet Cheating on a test includes; copying from another student’s test paper.
bullet Using material during a test which is not authorized by the individual administering the test.
bullet Collaborating with another student during a test without authorization.
bullet Knowing, using, buying, selling, stealing, transporting, or soliciting in whole or in part the contents of an un-administered test.
bullet Substituting for another student or permitting another student to substitute for one’s self, to take a test or bribing another person to obtain a test that is to be administered.


Plagiarism – The use of another’s work and the unacknowledged incorporation of that work into one’s own written work for credit.


Collusion – The unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing a written assignment.



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Return the signature portion below (the top of the page should be retained by the student/parent). 

Our signature below indicates my child and I have read the above materials and agree to abide by the policies of the class. Return to class by September 30.

Student Name: ________________________________ Signature_____________________________________



Parent Name:  ______________________________ Signature: ___________________________Date________



Best Day Phone Number: ________________________   Email: ______________________________________













LVA Music Handbook


Please visit the Performance Schedule and copy the dates into your calendar

and/or planner.  Performance Schedule


Please sign this portion of the handbook and return it to Mr. Swick.


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I have printed and read the LVA Guitar Class Handbook and Performance Schedule

for the school year.  I understand performances and rehearsals are a required part

of the class.  I also understand the costs and commitments to the LVA Guitar Program. 

I understand this is my child's major course of study at LVA and will assist him/her

in fulfilling the commitments as outlined in this handbook.



_____________________      ____________________________     __________

Student's Name (Please Print)            Student's Signature                                              Date



_____________________      ____________________________     __________

Parent's Name (Please Print)                Parent's Signature                                              Date



Parent's Email Address: ______________________________________________________

                                               (Please Print)



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