Guitar Academy Method Books Review

By: Matt Warnock

Throughout the past century, guitar students the world over have been introduced to the instrument through the publications of Mel Bay, Hal Leonard, the Royal Conservatory and the Suzuki Method. As these books have grown in popularity, especially the Mel Bay Guitar Book 1 which is an institution in itself, these instructional books have become ingrained in the minds of students, teachers and parents as they have made their way into countless practice rooms and teaching studios the world over.

While these books are known as the industry standard for early guitar education, there is a feeling in the guitar teaching community that an update is needed to the beginning curriculum. A new book or series of books that takes a fresh look at introductory guitar education, and that does so in a way that is both easy to understand by the students, as well as engaging for the teachers presenting this material. Richard Corr is a guitar teacher and author that is looking to bring a new perspective to the guitar teaching realm and his series of Guitar Academy books are a thorough, entertaining and engaging addition to the early guitar educational library.

The Guitar Academy series is made up of three books, one for each level of learning, which is accompanied by a CD of audio examples and practice tracks for the students to use at home in the practice room. There is also a Guitar Academy Website that contains supplemental lessons, resources for students and many of the pieces from the CD in Scorch form, which allows the student to adjust the tempo, listen to and view the examples online. All of these elements combine to provide an in-depth learning experience for any beginner guitar student, as well as contribute a welcomed addition to the modern guitar educational library.


Click to Buy the Guitar Academy Series from Strings by Mail


Guitar Academy Book 1

The first level in the Guitar Academy series is geared towards students that have never played the instrument before, or that have struggled on their own and need to shore up their fundamental understanding of the instrument, basic chords and notes/scales. Focusing on the open position of the guitar, the first volume introduces notes from the C major scale within this position, as well as open-position chords such as Am and D. This volume contains many musical examples that students can learn in order to apply the concepts/material they are learning directly to a piece of music. The songs are laid out in a way that allows teachers to play in duet with the students, or for the students to play along with the recordings. It makes for a nice introduction to the instrument and provides enough material for the student to play many of their favorite songs on the guitar.


Guitar Academy Book 2

The second book in the series builds on the first volume, and there is a nice page on revision for the student to review past material in case they need to brush up on certain concepts that they learned in the first book. This volume expands the student’s knowledge base to work on such concepts as key signatures, syncopation, thumb and finger combinations in the picking hand and other common fingerpicking techniques. One of the great things about these books, which is included in all three volumes, is the test section found at the end of each book. Here, the student and/or teacher can use this section to test the student’s knowledge and playing ability with the material used in that particular volume. Not only will this help with “graduating” the student to the next level in the series, but it is a great way for students to see the progress they are making in the practice room.


Guitar Academy Book 3

The final, and largest, edition in this series, book three expands even further on the concepts learned in previous editions. Here, the student will complete their knowledge of the open position, by adding in all the chromatic notes, as well as expand their playing to various other positions on the neck. Right hand technique is explored further with concepts such as dampening and planting, and the Blues and Rock genres are looked at in more depth than in the first two volumes. This is a nice conclusion to the series as it finishes up the teaching threads that were started in earlier volumes, as well as gives the student enough information to move on to more advanced subjects with their teachers, or continue to learn on their own after building a strong foundation on the instrument.


The Guitar Academy series is a well-thought out set of learning materials designed to provide a fun and engaging experience for the beginning guitarist. One of the great things about this series is that it can be used by a teacher and student, in a classroom setting or by a student on their own, and the learning experience will not be diminished in any fashion. Hats off to Corr for putting together such a successful series of books, and for expanding the options students have for learning materials as they begin their journey to learning this great instrument.


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