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  1. #1

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    Hey all, I'm sure some of you teach private guitar lessons like me. I have a student who recently finished Hal Leonard method book III, and as you probably know (at least afaik) there doesn't seem to exist any guitar method book IV, not only for Hal Leonard, but for all of the method book series that I am aware of. So I'm wondering if any of you can suggest reading books that pick up more or less where a method book III tends to leave off. I'll be honest I've been teaching for 15+ years and this is the first time I've even had a student go through all 3 books. I have a few miscellaneous advanced reading books but they seem to be way too advanced for her. There has got to be something in between the advanced reading books I have and HL3. FYI, we've been doing a lot of other stuff too not just the method book: she also just completed Troy Stetina's metal rhythm book I, and has learned several random songs she likes, and even written several songs. We are probably going to have her get Stetina's metal rhythm book II as well as his metal lead book I, but I really want her to have a book that focuses on developing notation reading, without necessarily having to go the classical route. I realize the classical guitar method is the best fleshed out system for developing reading skills but I don't want to bore her with classical guitar studies if possible. It seems there is a big void for a modern guitar method in the reading development department. Suggestions?

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarzen View Post
    Hey all, I'm sure some of you teach private guitar lessons like me. I have a student who recently finished Hal Leonard method book III, and as you probably know (at least afaik) there doesn't seem to exist any guitar method book IV, not only for Hal Leonard, but for all of the method book series that I am aware of. So I'm wondering if any of you can suggest reading books that pick up more or less where a method book III tends to leave off. I'll be honest I've been teaching for 15+ years and this is the first time I've even had a student go through all 3 books. I have a few miscellaneous advanced reading books but they seem to be way too advanced for her. There has got to be something in between the advanced reading books I have and HL3. FYI, we've been doing a lot of other stuff too not just the method book: she also just completed Troy Stetina's metal rhythm book I, and has learned several random songs she likes, and even written several songs. We are probably going to have her get Stetina's metal rhythm book II as well as his metal lead book I, but I really want her to have a book that focuses on developing notation reading, without necessarily having to go the classical route. I realize the classical guitar method is the best fleshed out system for developing reading skills but I don't want to bore her with classical guitar studies if possible. It seems there is a big void for a modern guitar method in the reading development department. Suggestions?
    This is a book I wrote a few years ago for learning position playing, it has a lot of good reading exercises. Free download: Position Playing.

  4. #3

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    Mel Bay-Seven graded volumes that will turn a guitarist into a musician plus enough supplementary material to interest anyone interested in any style.

    Berklee College Method/William Leavitt-Only three graded volumes but lots of excellent supplemental publications.

  5. #4

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    I have never taught out of a book. I design my lessons personally for my students. I don't really trust most books. I've seen too many things I disagree with.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    I have never taught out of a book. I design my lessons personally for my students. I don't really trust most books. I've seen too many things I disagree with.
    Wow, that's interesting. You must be a really dedicated teacher to go through the trouble of coming up with your own material. Wish you were in my neck of the woods.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  7. #6

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    I've been doing it for a very long time. So luckily enough I have material I can borrow from lessons I've developed for previous students.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by smokinguit View Post
    Wow, that's interesting. You must be a really dedicated teacher to go through the trouble of coming up with your own material. Wish you were in my neck of the woods.
    That's a teachets job! Meet the needs of the student with personalized instruction.

    Folks--if your teacher does not do this, they have NO business teaching move on.

    Good on ya Henry, I could tell you were one of the good ones.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  9. #8

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    The last several years, since I can make PDFs of my lessons, I have gathered quite a repository of material. And with my online lessons, I keep 90% of the stuff online. Each student has their own little site on my website. It keeps everything for them right there. They need scales or arpeggios or exercises, or patterns or explanations, most of it is there already. BUT THE REALLY GOOD THING is if it's not, I can design it specifically for them, and then I have something NEW to provide for future students, if they need it.

    But it's always for the specific student. I'm a troubleshooter, solver. My job is to see what ails the student and to provide guidance and fix the bugs in their study. Most of the time I've been there with many students before. Most of the problems are similar. Guitar players seems to have the same problems learning jazz. The great thing is my students from many years ago were guinea pigs. They were beta testers. I think I've more or less perfected the method. But it only works on an individual basis.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    I have never taught out of a book. I design my lessons personally for my students. I don't really trust most books. I've seen too many things I disagree with.
    Well I agree to a point. I also personally tailor my lessons to each student. But there is no need to reinvent the wheel. I've never met a guitar teacher who didn't think they could write a better guitar method than what is available (including myself!). But it's more practical to use existing books and then make the necessary corrections or adjustments as needed. Thanks for the suggestions, to those who gave them. I'd be happy to read about more.

  11. #10

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    I've never used a book. I have a method. My scales, arpeggios, patterns, fingerings all go hand in hand. It'd be way too confusing using some other books that use different systems. They don't work for me.

  12. #11

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    What about William Leavitt's "Advanced reading studies for guitar?"

  13. #12

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    I've found that having a student, especially a motivated and creative student work on making their own music, work in a free improvisational duo situation with the teacher, and in creating regular pieces which they commit to paper, can bring out a really great course in a developing student. Teachers often pass on their own reservations and short comings to their students and at one time I thought this was out of reach of a student. Not so. A driven student given the tools for composition will be more receptive to the wider world of new materials. If she is an exceptional guitar student, maybe thinking "just guitar" is not the last step in her musical direction.

    To that address, reading works for other instruments, flute, violin, oboe... (I know you were shying away from "classical" but that too may be something a student can be made to see in a good way) and there's a lot of material out there.
    As an example: You're doing a free improvisational duo with her, and she begins to see that range, rhythm, melody are things she can use as a part of her instrumental playing. You tell her she can write a piece down, you show her how and then introduce a flute etude as an example. The creative spirit in her may not see genre barriers.

    I regularly use materials (sparingly by the way, as needed) that draw on classical etudes from other instruments. The lack of position markers and cues helps a student to know the fingerboard and their ear better. I have students who didn't "like classical" improvising on rhythms from Modus Novus now. And they love it!

    Just one observation from one corner of the teaching world.
    David
    Last edited by TH; 07-15-2014 at 08:56 AM.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    Mel Bay-Seven graded volumes that will turn a guitarist into a musician plus enough supplementary material to interest anyone interested in any style.
    +1

    You must be living a sheltered life Guitarzen. Teaching for over 15 years and didn't know about Mel Bay? Those volumes are also available in 'expanded editions', for even more reading.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave70 View Post
    +1

    You must be living a sheltered life Guitarzen. Teaching for over 15 years and didn't know about Mel Bay? Those volumes are also available in 'expanded editions', for even more reading.
    Well, apparently I didn't dig deep enough, but hey that's why I asked here because I knew someone here would have some good suggestions. So thanks Monk for pointing out the Mel Bay series . I was aware of it, but didn't realize it had 7 graded volumes. I've seen so many series that had only 3 volumes that I assumed MB was the same since I had never seen MB vols. 4-7. (I have seen vols. 1-3 stocked in the music store where I work).

    To those who only offered philosophical points of view or snarky remarks, they honestly were off topic and didn't help at all. Anyways, mission accomplished. Switching to MB immediately.

  16. #15

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    Snarky and philosophical? Hm.

  17. #16

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    I don't disagree with the MB mention. However, William Leavitt's contributions were mentioned twice. I would not overlook them too quickly.

    I lot of Mel Bay's stuff doesn't sound very musical to my ears, sorry to say. The material be challenging reading, but music needs to please the ear if you want the student's motivation to remain high.

    Food for thought teach. Good luck.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarzen View Post
    To those who only offered philosophical points of view or snarky remarks, they honestly were off topic and didn't help at all. Anyways, mission accomplished. Switching to MB immediately.
    I think a person telling you his approach does not involve books is sound advice. Remember, what works for one student will NOT work for another. The Melbay graded series is not for every student. So what will you do when you run into such students?
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by smokinguit View Post
    I think a person telling you his approach does not involve books is sound advice. Remember, what works for one student will NOT work for another. The Melbay graded series is not for every student. So what will you do when you run into such students?
    Man, I don't know why guitarzen decides it's a good idea to attack help. I neither see where it's off topic or philosophical. I mean I can see what he - you - means. But it was intended to show that one can provide EXACTLY what a student needs by giving him what he needs. And I guess also I never had a teacher who taught out of a book so it's just not part of my experience.

    That you felt my comments were being snarky is unfortunate. That's far from my intention.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    Man, I don't know why guitarzen decides it's a good idea to attack help. I neither see where it's off topic or philosophical. I mean I can see what he - you - means. But it was intended to show that one can provide EXACTLY what a student needs by giving him what he needs. And I guess also I never had a teacher who taught out of a book so it's just not part of my experience.

    That you felt my comments were being snarky is unfortunate. That's far from my intention.
    i'd guess its partly a generational thing. there are just so many more textbooks for almost each and every imaginable aspect of playing (and especially for guitar) than there were when i was learning music.

    it seems to be true in virtually all areas of pedagogy, too, not just music.

  21. #20

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    Yes it might be a generational thing. Certainly there are many more books available now. But I don't know. And this may appear to be snarky but it's not intended to be. If I had a teacher that just taught me out of a book I'd just save my money on lessons and work out of the book. I always thought books were in lieu of lessons or an addendum to.

  22. #21

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    Mel bay is garbage. I've taught for years trying various methods: Hal Leonard, Mel Bay, Leavitt, Alfred's. They all suck in various ways. Here is my breakdown:

    Hal Leonard: Book 1 is decent for an absolute beginner to music, most of the tunes are laid out for the student to have a decent skills progression. Each tune is intended to teach or reinforce a specific concept. The book focuses on learning natural notes on each string in first position, learning 3-note chords then later 4, 5, and 6-note chords, and tunes in the keys of C, G, and D. It's boring and the tunes are kind of lame, but in my experience it works.

    Unfortunately, books 2 and 3 fall off the cliff. They're more intended as reference guides than methods. They kind of bounce around in no apparent order and teach a bunch of random guitar ideas. These books seem suited for people who just want to dabble in guitar as a hobby and don't have a teacher to guide them.

    Mel Bay: I have only used book 1. On the positive side I do like how this book has chords written out in notation, so the student learns to read chords instead of just single lines, but other than that I don't have much good to say about it. The tunes are *horribly* lame. I can't believe there are 7 volumes of this junk.

    Leavitt: I have only used book 1 because it's so boring nobody seems to ever make it to the others. It assumes that the student will be able to get the hang of the entire first position C major scale right away, which I like (high expectations are good, better than the other books which assume the student is stupid). I also like the way the Leavitt notates chords, instead of just using those box diagrams (these have a place, but not as a substitute for reading notes).

    On the downside this book is long and so very boring. As a student I only got about 75% of the way through before abandoning it. I can't imagine doing books 2 and 3, plus the supplementary material. Every tune in the book is written for the method, so this book does nothing for repertoire development, which is crucial when learning any style of music. It has some value for learning to read, but it has too many fingering aids and once you work out Leavitt's fingering tricks it kind of stops being reading practice.

    Alfred's: Have only used book 1. It's basically Mel Bay redux.

    Obviously these books have some merit, particularly for teaching reading and fretboard knowledge (although the fret/string numbers defeat this purpose so I don't know why the books have them) but they all neglect other aspects of learning (such as repertoire development) in a huge way. I can see using a method book sparingly in lessons because there's no need to reinvent the wheel, but I can't imagine dragging someone through all three Leavitt books. That would be painful. A better strategy with method books is to just try and get the main learning out of them and then move on to something else, rather than the OCD approach of trying to master every single piece in the book.

    The only method I've ever seen that I liked was the Royal Conservatory of Toronto classical method. It's 10 grades + prepetory level for total beginners and ARCT level for people who finish grade 10. One book of tunes and studies for each grade and on book of scales/arpeggios/chords.
    Last edited by Space Pickle; 07-20-2014 at 10:27 PM.

  23. #22

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    The point of Leavitt's books (or any other method books) is not meant to teach you nice, beautiful tunes. It's aim is to teach you about music and how to play it on the guitar. Before you master and art form (or any thing for that matter) the inital stage will be uninspiring and boring because you have to learn a lot of mechanical things. However, it can be fun if you find a good teacher to inspire and make you think about ideas in music not covered by a method book.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  24. #23

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    I wholeheartedly disagree. Again, I would mention the classical RCM method that teaches via the repertoire.

    There was a thread recently where a guy was lamenting that there is no jazz method book.For jazz it's the real book (or better yet, blank manuscript paper where you transcribe all the tunes yourself).

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Pickle View Post
    I wholeheartedly disagree. Again, I would mention the classical RCM method that teaches via the repertoire.

    There was a thread recently where a guy was lamenting that there is no jazz method book.For jazz it's the real book (or better yet, blank manuscript paper where you transcribe all the tunes yourself).
    I don't mean you should not be learning and developing your repetoire as you advance in your musical journey. But a tune base approach alone will most likely cause you a lot of frustration if you are not practicing the mechanics of your instrument and music in general via a method book or your teacher's approach or ideas that you discover on your own. How do I know this? Because one teacher tried it on me a few years ago and he failed.

    He was trying to overload me with too many tunes too soon. I was not ready for that. I burnt out. My learning curve was at a plateau because he was not teaching me the mechanics in a graduated format. And by mechanics I mean ear training, your scales, arpeggios, listening to tunes, singing solos etc. Therefore, I wasn't getting it. To truly get it you got to do your homework-a lot of it. And I don't mean practicing 8 hours a day. I don't have time for that. You just need to learn things in a step by step manner making sure to make a note to review every thing you have mastered at the appropiate intervals. So I guess you can call me "self-taught". I've learn a lot from trial and error unfortunately.
    Last edited by smokinguit; 07-21-2014 at 06:09 PM.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Pickle View Post
    I wholeheartedly disagree. Again, I would mention the classical RCM method that teaches via the repertoire.

    There was a thread recently where a guy was lamenting that there is no jazz method book.For jazz it's the real book (or better yet, blank manuscript paper where you transcribe all the tunes yourself).

    repertoire is not a method

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Pickle View Post
    Mel bay is garbage. I've taught for years trying various methods: Hal Leonard, Mel Bay, Leavitt, Alfred's. They all suck in various ways. Here is my breakdown:

    Hal Leonard: Book 1 is decent for an absolute beginner to music, most of the tunes are laid out for the student to have a decent skills progression. Each tune is intended to teach or reinforce a specific concept. The book focuses on learning natural notes on each string in first position, learning 3-note chords then later 4, 5, and 6-note chords, and tunes in the keys of C, G, and D. It's boring and the tunes are kind of lame, but in my experience it works.

    Unfortunately, books 2 and 3 fall off the cliff. They're more intended as reference guides than methods. They kind of bounce around in no apparent order and teach a bunch of random guitar ideas. These books seem suited for people who just want to dabble in guitar as a hobby and don't have a teacher to guide them.

    Mel Bay: I have only used book 1. On the positive side I do like how this book has chords written out in notation, so the student learns to read chords instead of just single lines, but other than that I don't have much good to say about it. The tunes are *horribly* lame. I can't believe there are 7 volumes of this junk.

    Leavitt: I have only used book 1 because it's so boring nobody seems to ever make it to the others. It assumes that the student will be able to get the hang of the entire first position C major scale right away, which I like (high expectations are good, better than the other books which assume the student is stupid). I also like the way the Leavitt notates chords, instead of just using those box diagrams (these have a place, but not as a substitute for reading notes).

    On the downside this book is long and so very boring. As a student I only got about 75% of the way through before abandoning it. I can't imagine doing books 2 and 3, plus the supplementary material. Every tune in the book is written for the method, so this book does nothing for repertoire development, which is crucial when learning any style of music. It has some value for learning to read, but it has too many fingering aids and once you work out Leavitt's fingering tricks it kind of stops being reading practice.

    Alfred's: Have only used book 1. It's basically Mel Bay redux.

    Obviously these books have some merit, particularly for teaching reading and fretboard knowledge (although the fret/string numbers defeat this purpose so I don't know why the books have them) but they all neglect other aspects of learning (such as repertoire development) in a huge way. I can see using a method book sparingly in lessons because there's no need to reinvent the wheel, but I can't imagine dragging someone through all three Leavitt books. That would be painful. A better strategy with method books is to just try and get the main learning out of them and then move on to something else, rather than the OCD approach of trying to master every single piece in the book.

    The only method I've ever seen that I liked was the Royal Conservatory of Toronto classical method. It's 10 grades + prepetory level for total beginners and ARCT level for people who finish grade 10. One book of tunes and studies for each grade and on book of scales/arpeggios/chords.

    Leavitt's method book 1 is not a beginner's book. He has TWO prep books that one can use prior to book 1. They are level appropriate, and admittedly boring for more advanced students.

    Berklee has a very nice tune book that accompanies Leavitt's Book 1 now. Highly recommended. Even then, a wise teacher supplements with other materials. What do you recommend for each of the first 4 Berklee levels/semesters? What do you recommend for the high schooler preparing to enter 2-4 years later?

    Books 2 and 3 were never intended to be used in the way that you are objecting to. There are supposed to be a number of other things happening in a players development by then. Anyone who is familiar with the pedagogical approach used at Berklee, UNT and other fine institutions is aware of this, or should be. Hint: look at the sophomore course load and barrier exams from levels 1-8 if you are feeling inquisitive.
    Last edited by fumblefingers; 07-21-2014 at 09:08 PM.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    repertoire is not a method
    It is if it's graded and levelled accordingly. https://examinations.rcmusic.ca/publications-0

    It doesn't make sense to say "learn the mechanics of playing guitar first and don't play any tunes". You should learn the guitar by experiencing appropriate repertoire. Method book first and then tunes is a waste of time in my experience.

    Leavitt's method book 1 is not a beginner's book.
    I disagree, it absolutely is. Some people prefer to take it slow and learn one string at a time and that's cool. Other people who are willing to invest more time or are faster learners will have no difficulty with the concepts in Leavitt book 1 (as much as I dislike it). Neither approach is wrong, it depends on the needs of the student.

    FYI I went to jazz college (not Berklee)...we used Leavitt book 1 briefly in first year as a means of bringing people up to speed on basic reading concepts but quickly moved on. Idid not know that Berklee has a tune book, but that seems redundant for a jazz course. As I mentioned before we already have the Real Book and students who are serious about jazz will go about things the proper way and lift the tunes anyways.

    Look, I'm not saying the Leavitt books are going to damage you somehow if you do them, but too many people will look for the answers in a method like this when they aren't there. It's really not that great a book, and I would be very surprised if it was actually used in any serious capacity at Berklee or other jazz schools.
    Last edited by Space Pickle; 07-21-2014 at 09:33 PM.

  29. #28

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    It should be done at the same time BUT to quickly get your guitar playing/technique in shape you got to spend time working on some type of "method" that will enable you to play your repetoire more fluently. You or your teacher has to figure out what you need to work on the most be it scales, chords, or whatever. It all depends on what needs to be practiced the most so that you can play your tunes better. That's what is meant by the word "method" as I understand it.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  30. #29

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    I value technique and fundamental concepts in music a lot because if you are not continually working on it, it will show in your music.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Pickle View Post
    It is if it's graded and levelled accordingly. https://examinations.rcmusic.ca/publications-0

    It doesn't make sense to say "learn the mechanics of playing guitar first and don't play any tunes". You should learn the guitar by experiencing appropriate repertoire. Method book first and then tunes is a waste of time in my experience.



    I disagree, it absolutely is. Some people prefer to take it slow and learn one string at a time and that's cool. Other people who are willing to invest more time or are faster learners will have no difficulty with the concepts in Leavitt book 1 (as much as I dislike it). Neither approach is wrong, it depends on the needs of the student.

    FYI I went to jazz college (not Berklee)...we used Leavitt book 1 briefly in first year as a means of bringing people up to speed on basic reading concepts but quickly moved on. Idid not know that Berklee has a tune book, but that seems redundant for a jazz course. As I mentioned before we already have the Real Book and students who are serious about jazz will go about things the proper way and lift the tunes anyways.

    Look, I'm not saying the Leavitt books are going to damage you somehow if you do them, but too many people will look for the answers in a method like this when they aren't there. It's really not that great a book, and I would be very surprised if it was actually used in any serious capacity at Berklee or other jazz schools.
    Understood. Book 1 starts out in deceptively simple fashion, and adults may be able to hang tough. However, I have used it with kids after they finished a typical guitar book 1 (Alfred I believe) with great pride and confidence. Then they got to the section between pages 20-30 in Leavitt and hit the wall hard. I'll never forget the look on one boys face like "what are you doing to me?! What the heck is this?!" Needless to say I never saw him again. That made an impression on me.

    The new Berklee tune book that accompanies Book 1 is a series of classic jazz tunes in very nice solo and duet guitar arrangements, done in Leavitt's great arranging style inasmuch as possible. One can't find that in a real book, and at level 1 is not ready to arrange like that.

    Switching to classical - Just curious, are you familiar with ABRSM and its 8 levels, exams, and recommended repertoire? If so, how do you compare it to the other resources that you've listed (thanks for those by the way, I'll check them out.)

  32. #31

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    No, by my guess is that RCMT is similar to ABRSM since they're both British traditions.

    Anyway if the op is still reading this I would suggest getting tenor saxophone or clarinet repertoire and playing that for someone who enjoys reading.