Guitar Lessons — TMC Curriculum Level 1

Playing the Guitar – Music in Notation

An introduction to quickly and easily help you become familiar with the basic elements of music. Music notation is the language of music and is recognized by musicians all over the world. Once you learn how to read music, you can learn to play a piece of music even if you never heard it before. Notation helps you easily communicate your musical ideas to other musicians and is also a way to preserve your own compositions. This is a general survey of all inclusive guitar methods, which begin with musical rudiments, the staff, note and rhythmic values, note reading, simplified chords and full chords. Includes basic music theory and musical terms.

  • Basic guitar Methods
  • Methods for children
  • Advanced Methods

Genre Specific Guitar Methods

Learn how to play your favorite style of music. Explore other styles of music you may be unfamiliar with or experiment to expand your playing vocabulary. A variety of methods are available to appropriately match the learning style, ability, skill and interest of each student. Music rudiments, note and rhythmic values and note reading are covered in the beginning of each level 1 method. Initially simple chords are covered and gradually move on to full chords. Theory is introduced as skill levels increase. Most methods generally progress smoothly to increasing skill levels and include songs, solos, duets and technical exercises.

  • Classic Guitar
  • Jazz Guitar
  • Rock Guitar
  • Metal/Thrash Guitar
  • Electric Blues Guitar
  • Acoustic Blues Guitar
  • Bass Guitar
  • Folk Guitar
  • Country
  • A variety of other methods are available such as Bluegrass, Gospel, Celtic, etc.
  • Theory workbooks
  • Technical Exercises – Introduction to developing right and left hand control through various fingerboard exercises. In notation and tablature.
  • Supplements – Additional songs, solos, duets and exercises to enhance the learning process


Tablature is a type of short hand for music notation and is generally represented by 6 lines for strings and numbers for fret locations. Tablature is often used to help you start playing your favorite music as soon as possible. This allows the process to be enjoyable, as you stay focused on your developing skills. To help facilitate the process during your lessons, most material will be hand written in tablature and some in hand written notation. Chord and fingerboard diagrams will also be used for easy reference. Many of the following styles and methods are available in notation and tablature.

  • Basic guitar in Tablature – Various styles (rock, country etc.), Power Chords and open position chords
  • Play your favorite songs - Learn to play guitar from your favorite CD’s - several thousand songs already transcribed
  • Rock
  • Acoustic
  • Finger-style
  • Classical guitar
  • Jazz
  • Folk
  • World Music/New Age
  • Country  
  • Worship


Just learning as little as 3 chords can have you playing many of your favorite songs. A chord is a group of musical tones played together. A series of chords played one after another creates a basic foundation and background for songs.

  • Open position chords
  • Power Chords
  • Rhythm– Using various rhythm patterns to strum chords and play arpeggios

Rhythm Guitar

Rhythm guitar often sets the pulse or feel of a song or piece of music. It defines its heart and character. The rhythm guitar often plays the most recognizable parts of a song. Many songs are instantly recognized by their first few opening chords or arpeggios.   

  • An introduction to playing chords, rhythm patterns and arpeggios
  • Open position major and minor chords
  • Major bar chords – The three basic shapes and their variations
  • Minor bar chords - The three basic shapes and their variations
  • How to select a rhythm pattern
  • Learn to play rhythm from some of your favorite songs

Riffs and Licks

Similar to the effect of opening lines for rhythm guitar, riffs and licks are generally single note patterns or phrases that set the feel of a song or piece of music. They define a songs mood and character. Many songs are instantly recognized by their first few opening riffs or licks.

  • An introduction to riffs and licks   
  • Moveable riffs and patterns
  • Licks and phrases
  • How riffs and licks are created
  • Learn to play riffs and licks from some of your favorite bands

Lead Guitar

Have you ever wondered how your favorite lead guitar player knows what notes to play while soloing? You can acquire these skills by learning how scale patterns and soloing techniques are used with chords in a variety of keys.

  • An introduction to scales and improvisation  
  • Minor Pentatonic Scales
  • Major Pentatonic Scales
  • Blues Scales
  • How to use scales with chord progressions
  • Learn to play riffs and lead solos from some of your favorite bands


Music theory enhances your enjoyment and understanding of music. It helps you understand what makes music sound good to you and how those sounds are made. Theory can help you learn faster, be more creative and effectively communicate your ideas with other musicians.

  • An introduction to theory using the musical alphabet, tablature, fingerboard and chord diagrams
  • Analyze Chord progressions and harmony from tabbed and notated songs
  • Learn the theory behind the music of your favorite bands


Technical exercises are designed to help you play smoothly, accurately and efficiently for faster musical development. They will increase your endurance and help you improve your overall sound.

  • Technical exercises in notation and tablature for left and right hand development
  • Many exercises are hand written for your specific needs

Song Writing

Do you hear music in your head but can’t translate it to your instrument? Do you have difficulty finishing songs you already started to write? Do you have a melody but can’t find the chords for it? Learn how to create, write and complete your own music.

  • An introduction to basic song writing techniques
  • Simple melody and harmony – finding melody in scales, chords and rhythm
  • Basic chord concepts - open position and bar chords
  • Movable chords with open strings  
  • Arranging – Song layout
  • Theory and analysis of melody and chord progressions
  • Analysis of songs from your favorite writers and players
  • Developing your own musical sound


How to practice effectively to get what you want from your guitar and music. Develop an effective practice schedule that fits your lifestyle and musical goals

  • Practice naturally – play what you like
  • Your practice environment - setting yourself up for successful practice
  • Practice Record Book – The how and why to record assignments and related musical goals and projects
  • Custom designed practice schedules


Learn how to accurately tune your guitar. One of the most important, but frequently overlooked elements directly related to musical ear training and musical development. Hearing accurately is the beginning step to recognize pitch, intervals and chords, which accelerates the learning process and helps you quickly locate them on your guitar.  

  • The importance, use, benefits and features of accurately using a calibrating, chromatic electronic tuner
  • Tuning to and with other instruments
  • Using a tuning fork – tuning by ear
  • Unison and octave tuning – tuning by ear
  • Various tuning methods – tuning by ear

Ear Training

Learn to recognize pitches, intervals and chords and to quickly locate them on the fingerboard. Ear training will help you get the music from your head to your guitar and increase the effectiveness of your musical communications with other musicians.

  • Scale tones
  • Major, minor and perfect intervals
  • Major and minor chords

Guitar Care

How to keep your guitar playing, sounding and looking it’s best.

  • Maintenance – Learn how to properly clean, condition and polish your guitar. How to clean, condition and oil the fingerboard and bridge
  • Tuning And Tension – Learn how tuning and tension effect you guitar and your musical ear
  • Guitar set up and adjustments – learn the importance of a properly adjusted guitar and the basic skills for set ups and adjustments
  • Temperature and humidity – Learn the effects of temperature and humidity on your guitar and how to compensate for it
  • Simple modifications – bridge pins, strap buttons, strap locks, knobs, pick guards, pick-ups and electronics.
  • How to buy a guitar – Learn about basic guitar construction and inspection and how to select the right guitar

Areas of Study

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