Guitar Performance & Study

The Classical Guitar has enjoyed a marvelous resurgence in popularity over the past twenty-five years. Both new repertoire and pedagogy have contributed to making this both a desirable and accessible instrument for those that enjoy its wonderful qualities. Although the classical technique can be used in conjunction with the electric guitar the classical guitarist has no need for electronic effects or other instruments to support its vast repertoire. The guitarist that masters the technique of the classical guitar will enjoy many rewarding hours of playing music whether at home, in a concert hall, or by the side of a mountain. The guitar travels easily and needs only a competent set of hands and ears.

For those reading this that play guitar but have little experience with the classical guitar, it is really important that you begin to listen to as much classical guitar music as possible. It is equally important to listen to other classical music as well. Very often guitarists that are adept at rock or other popular forms of guitar, begin to play the classical guitar on their own without listening to the music. What results is akin to carrying on a conversation with someone from a foreign land using a textbook to speak the language of that land

A word about auditions

For those guitarists that wish to audition into the program playing jazz guitar, you will still need to enroll in Music 216 and will follow the classical curriculum for the first two years of study.

There is no longer a jazz degree offered but it is possible to design a studio guitar degree. After passing through upper division juries, we can determine which course of study to follow. This will depend in part on curricular offerings in the department of music.

Entrance Audition Information

Some of what Western has to offer guitarists

Fingerstyle Technique

Where the flatpick certainly has it's place in many established musical styles, the guitarist wishing to play contrapuntal music quickly realizes the necessity to learn and incorporate good fingerstyle technique. This technique in the long run will be adaptable to a variety of popular styles as well as classical ones.


Reading music on the guitar is essential (for most people) to becoming a complete musician. It certainly is the most practical way of integrating melody, harmony and bass line. The guitarist who can read music will have many doors open to her/him. Although the entrance requirements include reading music on the guitar, the curriculum will build on this skill.

Discipline and Focus

Essential to doing anything well. The discipline and focus required to playing the classical guitar even pretty well is substantial. Western students that pursue guitar study seriously during their undergraduate years usually find that whether they go on to play or teach guitar, they will have the skills and discipline to grow. Those that decide to pursue a career outside of music will have developed the focus and discipline and organizational ability to meet many of life's challenges with confidence and ease.


Integration of theory and harmony with guitar study is an important part of the core curriculum offered to Western music majors that choose guitar as their major instrument. There is now a "Fretboard Harmony" class available to guitar majors at Western. Few schools offer this useful class that serves to familiarize the guitarist with the fingerboard in a way that will, among other things, enable them to arrange music for the instrument.


Performance opportunities abound here at Western and the community surrounding. Guitarists are required to participate in weekly performance classes as part of their applied study. In addition, guitarists perform juries twice yearly and will give junior and senior recitals. Students pursuing non-performance degrees will perform in Thursday One O'clock Recitals and chamber music concerts. The ability to perform in front of an audience can be an invaluable tool outside of music.

Chamber Music

Chamber Music In addition to opportunities to play chamber music with other instrumentalists in the music department, guitar ensemble classes are available for credit to guitar majors in the department. Our guitar ensemble Western Guitarists perform a couple of concerts a year. Concerts usually attract a big following and in addition to ensemble performances, our concerts feature student solo performances. Recent performances include concerts at the Blaine Washington Performing Arts Center and Gonzaga College in Spokane, Washington.

The Northwest and Portland Guitar Festivals

The Northwest and Portland Guitar Festivals Western guitarists have a long history of participation in regional guitar festivals. With internationally acclaimed artists performing and giving classes, these three-day guitar festivals foster more inspiration than students know what to do with. The festivals include guitar competitions that provide a goal for many of our students who spend their year preparing for the next festival held every spring. Former Western students have placed and even taken first prize in these competitions. Western Guitars have been featured performers at the Northwest Guitar Festival in past years.

Looking for more information?

If you have any questions, we're happy to find you an answer. Call the Music Department Office 360-650-3130, or view the directory of faculty and staff.