Guitar Handbook


in the woods

2019-2020 Course Expectations

Contact Information: for Mr. Swick

Phone: 702-799-7800 Ext.  4009

Office hours: M, T, Th 10:00-11:00 and 12:30–2:00

Course Description:  Each 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.  Each course fulfills the National Association for Music Educators National Standards which have been adopted by the State of Nevada.


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, fifth and seventh 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.

9.      To follow and fulfill the "Best Practices" as defined by the guitar education council of the National Association for Music Education


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.
  9. To follow and fulfill the "Best Practices" as defined by the guitar education council of the National Association for Music Education


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.


Curriculum:  Each level of guitar class follows CCSD curriculum guidelines as well as the state standards and Best Practices as outlined by the guitar education council of the National Association of Music Education.  Brief course descriptions can be found in the Course Catalog at Schedule information is available in Google Classroom  Each student belongs to two Google Guitar Classes.  Weekly assignments are posted in the class which reflects the year the student has been in the program.  The following are codes for each of those classes:  Year One:  qa4woj   Year Two:  sa3xkO  Year Three:  j5ciezb  Year Four:  5vt09v.

General information may be found in the Varsity Classes including performance dates, communication, handbook, curriculum, etc.  The codes for these classes are:  Varsity 1:  s5s9m9  Varsity 2:  sa3xk0  Varsity 3:  f1g3k1

All students must enrolled in two of these Google Classes (Year & Varsity) and all parents are encouraged to join.

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 encouraged.


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 "First Position Studies" 19-34

           Complete "Jazz Rhythms" 19-34

             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" 1-16

           Complete "Jazz Rhythms" 32-40 Vol. 1 and studies 1-10 in Vol. 2

            Complete "Matteo Carcassi,"" "Dionisio Aguado," "Finger-Picking Good," and "Mauro Guilianni" 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" 32-36

           Complete "C. Rose Studies" 1-12

           Complete "Jazz Rhythms" 11-26 Vol 2.

            Complete "Fernando Sor," "Ferdinando Carulli," "J.S. Bach," 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, a sponge and a polishing cloth.



Grades: Grades are earned according the following formula:

  1. All grades will be distributed between two assessment buckets: formative and summative. Weighted percentages will be as follows:
    1.     Regular courses                      30% formative, 70% summative
    2.     Honors level courses              20% formative, 80% summative
    3.     AP level courses                     10% formative, 90% summative
  2. Summative Assessments/Tests:  Students will have the opportunity to retake any exam one time for a maximum grade of 75%. This also applies to all playing tests that are 3 or more days late. Long-term projects, where the teacher has provided opportunities for multiple formative assessments and feedback before a final due date, are void of this retake policy.
  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 count for 20% of the semester grade.
  4. When assigning a grade of D or F to any quarter/semester report card, the teacher will contact the parent or guardian within three days after the distribution of progress reports. Teachers will also contact parents when a student maintains a grade of F or D on several assignments.


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 7 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.

Class Procedures:  Students are expected to be in their seats prior to the final bell ringing with their class binder, a pencil, a sponge, foot stool, etc.  Students are expected to store their phones in the provided area in the front of the classroom unless directed to have them out.  Walking into the classroom while the last bell is ringing is considered tardy.  All electronic devices are prohibited from use in the classroom unless directed to do so.   

Classroom Behavior Expectations

In order to guarantee students in the guitar classroom the positive learning climate each

deserves, the following behavior 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.

6.   Place all phones and other electronic devices in designated storage area when entering the room.

7.   Avoid using any electronic devices (phones, smart watches, hand-held mobile devices, laptops, gaming devices, etc.) unless directed to do so.

8.   Texting and messaging is absolutely prohibited.

Consequences for Breaking Class Rules

1.  Verbal warning

2.  Putting instrument away for the remainder of the class

3.  Contact with 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.

Citizenship Grade








Needs Improvement




0-2 UNV

3-4 UNV

5-6 UNV

7+ UNV


Tardy 0-3 times

Tardy 4-6 times

Tardy 7-9 times

Tardy 10+ times


Remains on task without reminders; works efficiently, demonstrating cooperation, respect and leadership; volunteers

Cooperative, participates and follows the lead of others; occasionally distracted

Quiet, distracted, daydreaming; eventually may get to work on assignment; Does little to participate; lets others do the work

Interrupts, distracted, or disrupts others; difficult to work with; teacher must remind student about getting to work; doesn’t get caught up after absence

Homework and work habits

0-1 assignment and/or homework not complete; answers have been checked and corrections are made

2-3 assignments and/or homework not complete; answers are not always checked and corrected

4-5 assignments and/or homework not complete; occasionally missing materials

6 or more assignments and/or homework not complete; missing materials too frequently


Models integrity and defends the LVA Way

Displays integrity awareness and the LVA Way

Integrity and the LVA Way occasionally compromised

LVA Way compromised; negative attitude; cheating infraction


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 theeducational 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 incur:

First Tardy - Warning from the teacher

Second Tardy – Warning from teacher of next consequences and assigned lunch detention with teacher. Student must be given 24 hours-notice prior to the detention.

Third Tardy - Warning from teacher of next consequence and teacher calls the parent, referral for discipline and assigned After School Detention. Student must be given 24 hours-notice prior to the detention.

Fourth Tardy - Referral for discipline. Student is placed on an RPC status.

Fifth Tardy - Formal suspension of one (1) day

Sixth Tardy – Discipline will follow with progress discipline steps as outlined on LVA Progressive Discipline Policy.  Each additional tardy will result in a one-day suspension and the student is placed on Behavior Probation.

Subsequent Tardies - Suspensions will continue until five additional tardies. Continuous suspensions will result in a request for removal from LVA for willful disregard of school rules.



Students are required to demonstrate mastery and skills without relying on others.  Unless informed by a teacher that an assignment is collaborative, students must complete their own work.

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


  • Cheating on a test includes copying from another student’s test paper or allowing another to copy answers from a test.


  • Using material during a test that is not authorized by the individual administering the test.


  • Collaborating with another student during a test without authorization.


  • Knowing, using, buying, selling, stealing, transporting, or soliciting in whole or in part the contents of an un-administered test.


  • Substituting for another student or permitting another student to claim work as their own


  • To take a test or bribe another person to obtain a test that is to be administered.


  • Manipulating electronic devices being used to determine one’s score


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.


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, 5 days each week, in the Assessment Mode. Ideally, students will perform each piece 2 time each, for 5 days each week.  Practice Mode performances do not count towards the required 10 performances.   The highest score will be recorded in the grade book.  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.

Review of requirements:

  • Each week, students MUST have scores from 5 different days
  • Each week, students MUST perform a MINIMUM of 10 times in Assessment Mode
  • Students are encouraged to use the Practice Mode, but NO scores or performances count towards the weekly requirements
  • No scores under 50% will be counted
  • It is highly recommended to perform each piece at least two times or more for 5 or more days
  • There is no limit to how many times a student performs a piece
  • Students are 100% in control of their grades. 
  • Any performance in which the recording is not clear, has been tampered with or elongated will be subject to disciplinary action as described above under Academic Dishonesty
  • It is strongly encouraged to SAVE ALL SCORES


Why Use Music Prodigy?

            Each student is 100% 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

             Teacher can demonstrate student's growth by comparing lowest to highest score each 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.  Students will receive only 50% of their score if the make-up is not completed within 7 days of original due date.  Any student with four or more missing assignments is cause to request a parent conference, particularly if the missing assignments are not directly related to absences.  Six or more missing assignments will result in being placed on probation.  All missing assignments will be reflected in student's citizenship grade.


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 only time this will not happen is during school weeks when there are only 3 instructional days in the guitar room.  This occurs during the weeks of concerts when students are rehearsing in a theater or when teacher is scheduled to be out of the classroom.  Students are told ahead of time and this information is posted in Google Classroom.


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 to students, but it makes paying the semester fee on time even more important.  Annual fees are due no later than the last school day in August.


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 August.


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 lowering the quarter grade by one letter grade.  All Peer Reviews are due 3 school days following the event.  Students will include the program and ticket of the event and will collect a parent signature.


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.  

          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.  Girls may also choose to wear a tuxedo.

The uniform for informal public performances 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.

Any student not in complete and proper concert dress will not be allowed to perform on stage. 

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, no music, using electronic devices in class, etc.  Lost participation points may not 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

6.       Level of participation in activities like performing in a recital, solo & ensemble, honor guitar ensemble, musical, etc.

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 if the opportunity arises.  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.  The costs of travel will be the responsibility of students.

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

2.       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.

3.       Students participating in Solo & Ensemble and Honor Guitar Ensemble will be asked to pay fees.  The cost is $10 per round for Solo & Ensemble and $25 for Honor Guitar.

4.       Varsity 3 students will have the cost of travel. 

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

6.       Parents may opt to purchase the Parent Funding Agreement (known as the Silver Pass) for $180 which provides admission to all guitar concerts, covers the $40 annual fee, $25 honot guitar fee, $10 solo & ensemble fee, etc.  This pass does not cover clothing (required Polo shirt) or travel.  Here is the link to learn more:  Silver Pass  



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


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