Sample Unit Curriculum

by Andrew Marino

Class: Learn to Play the Guitar – Beginner Group Class

Unit: An Introduction to Classical Guitar

Audience: Guitar students, ages 8-10 (grades 3-5)

Rationale: This unit is designed to teach students the fundamentals of guitar technique, beginning fretboard harmony, and ensemble playing. It is important for students to learn the information and acquire the skills in this course in order to form an understanding of music and an understanding of the instrument. This unit also serves as a building block to the next unit, as well as forming the foundation for further intermediate- and advanced- level guitar study.

By the conclusion of this unit students will:

  • Implement proper care and handling of the guitar.

    • Part of learning an instrument is learning how to care for it and be respectful of it. Students do this to learn how to properly maintain, carry, and store their instruments which helps avoid damage.

  • Identify types of guitars and will be able to locate and label parts of guitars.

    • It is important to understand that there are different types of guitars: classical, steel-string acoustic, and electric. Students need to be able to distinguish between the various types. It’s also important to know the parts of a guitar as part of mastering the instrument.

  • Show their mastery of a healthy seating position with a properly sized instrument, chair, and a footstool or other guitar support.

    • Any discomfort caused by improper position or improperly sized instruments will have negative impacts on learning and practice.

  • Demonstrate mastery of basic left and right hand positions.

    • Building good habits at the beginning of the learning process is important for future success.

  • Employ proper right hand finger technique; independently use P, M, I (free stroke), as well as alternating I and M fingers (rest stroke).

    • Right hand technique presents unique challenges for guitarists. Establishing good habits at this stage eliminates the need for any remedial work later. This is intended to be right-hand-only work on open strings.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of a 4/4 time signature and three fundamental rhythmic values: whole, half, and quarter notes

    • Important to “internalize” the beat and understand how a measure can be divided into small units.

  • Recognize notes in first position on the treble strings (first, second and third) from standard notation and use these to read single-line melodies.

    • Guitarists are not merely “technicians;” we are musicians and to that end it is important to understand the “language” of music. This is also fundamental in building students’ understanding of fretboard harmony. Notes will be learned comprehensively string-by-string starting with the first.

  • Demonstrate knowledge of basic chord forms in first position.

    • Understanding basic harmonic structures is essential to playing a harmonizing instrument like the guitar. Chords will be played on the three treble strings. In this unit students will learn four chords: E minor, C, G, and G7

  • Use proper right hand technique in the playing of basic block chords, as well as ascending and descending arpeggios.

    • This builds upon previously learned skills, with the added application of left hand fingers.

  • Prepare melodies to be played as an ensemble.

    • Music does not happen in isolation; therefore, it is important that students play music with their peers early on.

*The unit will culminate with each student taking part in an end-of-unit graded performance jury.

Standards: https://nafme.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014-Music-Standards-Guitar-Harmonizing-Instruments-Strand.pdf

https://www.nbpts.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/ECYA-MUSIC.pdf

 

 

Goals:

In this unit of study, divided into five class sessions, students will develop their knowledge of the instrument, rhythms, and music notation. Students will also build their knowledge of the fretboard by learning the natural notes in first position on the treble strings. We will also develop proper playing techniques. Students will demonstrate the knowledge and skills acquired in this unit by passing a written evaluation and a performance evaluation given during the fifth class session with a grade of 80% or higher on both.

 

Objectives:

Session 1

  • Students will be able to label 8 out of 10 parts of the guitar on a written evaluation given in the last class session of this unit.

  • Students will demonstrate appropriate positioning. Students will also apply proper playing technique to rudimentary exercises for both left and right hands.

Session 2

  • Students will apply previously learned playing techniques, and will use fundamental rhythms, to play two melodies using notes on the first string.

Session 3

  • Students will apply previously learned playing techniques, and will use fundamental rhythms, to play two melodies using notes on the first and second strings.

  • Students will construct a three-string E minor chord and a three-string G major chord.

Session 4

  • Students will apply previously learned playing techniques, and will use fundamental rhythms, to play two melodies using notes on the first, second and third strings as a group.

  • Students will construct a three-string G7 chord and a three-string C major chord.

  • Students will apply two previously learned chords (E minor and G), as well as the two chords learned this session to accompaniment patterns in 4/4 time played in a group (ensemble).

Session 5

  • Students will demonstrate their knowledge acquired during this unit by passing a written evaluation with a grade of 80% or higher, and they will demonstrate the skills acquired in this unit by passing a performance evaluation with a grade of 80% or higher.

 

Outcomes:

  • Students will show their knowledge of the instrument by correctly labeling three types of guitars on the written evaluation at the end of this unit.

  • Students will be able to locate and correctly label 8 out of 10 parts of a guitar on the written evaluation at the end of this unit.

  • Students will demonstrate proper positioning during the performance evaluation given at the end of this unit based on the following four criteria: posture, instrument position, left hand placement, right hand placement.

  • By the end of this unit students will have developed proper left hand technique based on the following criteria: thumb centered on the back of the neck, hand positioned squarely with guitar neck, finger tips placed on strings directly next to frets.

  • By the end of this unit students will have developed proper right hand technique based on the following criteria: proper preparation and follow through using P, M, I free-stroke, proper follow through and release in I-M rest-stroke alternation.

  • By the end of this unit students will be able to read basic notation in treble clef.

  • At the end of this unit students will be asked to construct two short melodies in 4/4 time using the following components: first position natural notes on the first, second and third strings; whole, half, and quarter notes.

  • At the end of this unit students will be asked to utilize their knowledge of four basic chord forms to play simple accompaniment patterns.

  • At the end of this unit students will be able asked to apply their performance skills to a short ensemble piece consisting of melody and chords.