Response to a blog by Michael Albertson

Please read the following:

My response:

Dear Michael I see you are on the NYSSMA research committee. Please tell me what the NYSSMA requires for guitar in the NYSSMA manual? As I remember it is “classic” guitar literature and not soloing over the ending Am G F (G) progression in “Stairway to Heaven”.

Realize these all-state guitar ensembles are what is needed. This is what school administrators are used to seeing with BOC (band, orchestra, and chorus). I ask you, how do you expect a group of 30 or more students who have not played together (and for that matter don’t know each other) get together for a weekend and play a concert? Being able to read music is necessary. This is just a small part of what I expected in my multi-level guitar program. Those “guitar kids” (as my administration used to call the students in my class) could pick a bluegrass tune, solo over the blues, play in the jazz band, play for the school musical, play classical solos and play ensemble literature. They read tab, they read chord grids and they read music. There is a reason that guitar students should be familiar with all types of notation and competent with all styles of literature available to them. They need to be literate musicians. Am I making the point clear enough that they need to communicate with other musicians not just other guitar players?

Teaching any class is a matter of numbers. Teaching a “combo” would be fun but my administration expected at least 30 in a class. As far as conducting goes there were as many as 56 students in my guitar ensemble class. Note the number, it was a popular class. I had students conduct as well as myself and the group played better with a conductor.

You should not assume what goes on in a guitar class by this article. If you get a chance, hear Ed’s “guitar kids”. They are fine musicians. I never heard John’s students but I am sure they are/were equally strong. Perhaps you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, any positive exposure that guitar education receives should be gratefully appreciated.

Your comments would be appreciated. ~ Glen McCarthy 1/7/13