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The Student Repertoire Series for Classical Guitar
I had several years of rock guitar lessons in high school, as well as one year of classical guitar. Then I took a break for about 10 years. When I picked up the instrument again I was teaching myself out of several books that used tab. Then I found a "real" classical guitar teacher. One of the first things we did was start using "The Student Repertoire Series" by Lawrence Ferrara. This book has two volumes, and they totally changed how I view the instrument!
Reasons Why It Rocks
Here is why I think that these books rock:
1. No tab! I finally had to get comfortable reading standard notation all over the neck. Anyone who has made the leap from reading tab to reading standard notation will tell you that it's difficult! However, the pieces in this book prove that it is worth it. For example, tab simply cannot communicate something like how long to hold a note. Concepts like this are critical to the proper interpretation of classical music.
2. The pieces represent all the major musical eras (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century) as well as traditional / folk music (including the beloved Spanish guitar music!). Before using these books, I was only familiar with a few of these eras. It is satisfying to know that I have played pieces from each era of the repertoire. I feel that it has made me a better musician.
3. The pieces sound great. Even pieces that I did not enjoy listening to or playing at first wound up growing on me.
4. The book comes with a CD, so you can decide which pieces you want to play, as well as hear how the pieces "should" sound.
5. The pieces are graded. In the introduction Ferrara explains what goes into his grading system. For me (and I suspect most other students) all that matters is this: it works. Level 4 pieces are, in fact, harder than level 3 pieces, and so on. This is great because, like many students, I have a mental list of virtuoso pieces that I'd like to play at some point. Before being introduced to this grading system I just knew that those pieces were too hard; I had no "roadmap" to being able to play these pieces. Now I do.
6. The conclusion of the 2nd volume explains how the these books fit in with a conservatory audition / curriculum. Before meeting my current teacher I had never met someone who had a degree in guitar from a conservatory. While I do not plan to enter a conservatory myself, I enjoy seeing where current level is, and where it is in relation to this standard.