Metz Middle School Guitar

Grace E. Metz Middle School

Guitar Syllabus : 2016-2017                                  

Mrs. Darlene Dawson

    1. 5 inch Binder for guitar materials only (not to be shared with other classes)
    2. Five Tab Dividers
    3. 12 Guitar Picks (heavy)
    4. Pencils
    5. Pencil Pouch inserted in the binder (to store pencils and picks)
    6. Method Book (books will be provided for class use
    1. Full-Size Acoustic Guitar (either nylon or steel string)*
    2. Electronic Tuner (Snark recommended)
    3. Guitar Picks (Heavy)
    4. Pencils
    5. Method Books
    6. Guitar Stand
    7. Music Stand

*The purchase of a personal guitar is not a requirement for this exploratory guitar class, however, the most successful music students are those who consistently reinforce the skills through practice at home. Having a home guitar would be a huge advantage in learning.



Beginning Guitar offers instruction for students who have had no prior guitar experience. This is NOT an electric rock n roll guitar class, but will set the stage for students to advance to that level with great fundamental skills. Instruction will focus on music literacy (standard and tablature), instrument technique, chord progressions, and basic musicianship.



Each of these goals aligns with the National Standards for Arts Education and the Virginia Standards of Learning for Instrumental Music (SOLs).

  • To learn how to play chords, accompaniment and melodies on the guitar.
  • To learn to read music notation, guitar tablature, and chord frames.
  • To develop an understanding of music fundamentals and theory.
  • To learn how to perform, write, and create music.
  • To listen and learn music of many styles, and begin to describe and analyze it.
  • To develop the ability to match and sing a pitch.
  • To develop an understanding of music as it relates to history and culture




Guitar classes will cover the following units of study:

  • Common major, minor and seven chords and progressions.
  • Notation and performance of notes in 1st position.
  • Reading and performing rhythms.
  • Strumming.
  • Tuning the guitar.
  • Reading music symbols and vocabulary.
  • Different music styles (folk songs, blues, classical, rock, reggae, etc.).
  • Performing alone and in small groups.
  • Improvisation



  • Is seated on time with required materials on hand.
  • Does not disrupt/interrupt class
  • Participates in all class activities.
  • Rehearsal skills deductions occur for the following:

Regular class participation is required. Each student receives 100 participation points every week. No points will be deducted if the student:

  • Missing materials (binder, pick, pencil)
  • Inappropriate playing and/or talking
  • Unexcused tardy to class    


 Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Individual Playing Tests: both announced and unannounced
  2. Written tests, quizzes, worksheets and written assignments
  3. Maintaining the guitar binder. There will be periodic binder checks.


  1. Follow the directions of the teacher the first time they are given
  2. Respect your teacher, your classmates, and the equipment
  3. Do not play your guitar or talk when you are supposed to be listening
  4. Be on time and bring all materials
  5. Do not bring gum, food, or drink into the guitar room.Consequences for Breaking Class Rules (in addition to loss of rehearsal skills points):



Every student in the guitar class deserves an excellent learning environment; therefore, the following class rules will be enforced:

  1.      Verbal Warning or Teacher/Student Conference
  2.      Put the guitar away for the rest of the class period and complete an alternate assignment
  3.      Parent Contact
  4.      Referral
  • FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)A:  The best guitar for a beginning student is an acoustic guitar. Please do not use an electric guitar! All students will use a school guitar for class instruction. Beginners may prefer a nylon-string guitar because those strings are more durable and also gentler on the fingers of beginning players. A steel-string acoustic is also perfectly acceptable. At school we use a mix of nylon and steel string instruments according to the student’s choice. You can buy an acoustic guitar at any music store, such as Music and Arts, Guitar Center, Nova Music Center, or Jessica’s Music Studio. A good beginning level acoustic guitar should cost around $125. Good brands are Yamaha, Fender, Takamine and Ibanez. Rogue is not a good brand. and are reputable online dealers that offer great deals. We have a class set of guitars to be used at school. Your purchased guitar is for home practice. You do not need to bring your guitar to school. Q: Why can’t I use an electric guitar? A: The school will provide your book for class use. These books remain in the classroom for all classes to use. It would be great if you could get a book for home practice too. All of the local music stores either stock or can order the book series we use. We use two primary book sources: H.O.T. (Hands On Training) Level 1 by Nancy Marsters and Mastering the Guitar Level 1 by Mel Bay.Q: What kind of tuner should I get? A:  It is quite normal for the fingertips of the left (or fingering) hand to be tender or sore at the beginning. You will develop calluses after several weeks. If it continues to be a problem after that, you might have a problem with the “set up” of your instrument, meaning the strings are too high off the fingerboard. A local music store can have this fixed for you. Also, please remember that in order to play the guitar correctly, fingernails should be trimmed short.Q: Do I need to provide my own pick? A: Some students like to use a footstool, some do not. We have a class set for use at school. You can make a decision whether or not to get one once you know if you like it or not.Q: Do I need extra guitar strings? A:  A strap is used when you have to stand up and play. We will learn to play in the seated position, so a strap is not necessary at this time.QHow long should I practice? 



A:  Regular daily practice of good quality is more important than quantity. Plan to practice 20 minutes every day and work up from there.   Your progress in guitar playing is almost totally dependent upon you. YOU absorb the instruction, YOU systematically apply it to practice patterns, and YOU discipline your fingers. It is very difficult to be successful without practice which is why I strongly recommend having a guitar at home!!


QShould I use a strap when I play?

A: The school will provide the strings for the class guitars. You are responsible for providing extra strings for your guitar at home. Be sure you get the correct strings! Only nylon strings can be used on a classical guitar. Only steel strings can be used on a standard acoustic guitar. Strings are generally sold in complete sets of all six strings, rather than individually. You will want light or extra light gauge strings for a steel-string, or low tension strings for nylon-string.


Q: Do I need a guitar footstool?

A: Yes. The beginning classes will start to strum chords and notes with the right hand thumb, but then move into using a flatpick. Students should purchase at least 12 picks and bring them to class daily inside the pencil pouch. Heavy gauge picks are recommended. Picks can be purchased in class for 25 cents each.


QWhat if my fingers are sore?

There are many brands of tuners available. We recommend the Snark for ease of use and how it can stay on the guitar. Korg is also a good brand. There are also great tuning apps that are free or inexpensive. Go into the App store, and look up any of the following: Tuner, Cleartune, Martin Tuner. There are many more!!

  1. Q: Where do I get my book?
  2. A:  When just starting, you need to learn to develop a good tone and you also need to develop good left hand technique. An electric will not give you the flexibility in developing a good acoustic tone or finger strength and dexterity. Some electrics have such low action or ease of fingering that you may be starting on an instrument with fingering too easy. As a comparison, how much good would you get by doing a “push up” if you only had to go half way up? Learning on an acoustic first will make you a much better guitarist! Everything we learn can apply to an electric later.
  3. Q: What kind of guitar should I get and where should I get it?