Learning classical guitar can be a daunting process – coordinating the left and right hand techniques can turn people off from tackling the style. However, almost any classical piece can be played with a pick. In his new course, Classical Flatpicking Explorations, Tony Smotherman takes you through 10 classical performance studies played with a flatpick.

In these lessons taken from the course, we’ll start by performing and breaking down Mozart’s “Minuet”, a fun and challenging introduction to classical guitar. Then, we’ll take a look at the guitar composer Carcassi’s “Opus 60 Study No. 7”, a more challenging yet still accessible place to flex your new found classical flatpicking chops. Let’s get started:

Minuet – Overview

Mozart’s music transcribes so well to the guitar. In this minuet, you’ll notice lots of string skipping and position changes within the scale runs. Mozart was well known for his harmonies and masterful ability to make his pieces sound elaborate, while often built on very basic musical concepts. This minuet is a great example of how Mozart crafted incredible harmonically rich lines in an almost playful manner.

Minuet – Performance

Download the tab and notation for this classical guitar lesson on TrueFire.

This Mozart minuet employs skips and jumps all over the place. A fun challenge. Be sure to keep your thumb mid-neck in order to pull off those wider stretches. Part two moves through a beautiful minor section full of alternate picked arpeggios. Fingerings are key to move positions gracefully.

Minuet – Breakdown

Accuracy is key here. Some positions have ascending notes, while others have descending notes, which creates a really interesting and unique feel. Lots of single string runs are going to require position and fingering changes.

Opus 60 Study No. 7 – Overview

Carcassi was an incredible guitar composer. His pieces always remain accessible but very clever harmonically. “Study No. 7 in A Minor” is a well-known Carcassi piece in the classical guitar community. Most people know it as Carcassi #7. The first time I heard this piece, I loved it and immediately learned it. The cool thing about this is that it sounds like two guitars simultaneously. Carcassi wrote lots of music for the guitar and this one translates so well to using a pick.

Opus 60 Study No. 7 – Performance

Download the tab and notation for this classical guitar lesson on TrueFire.

Tempo is key, as always. Make sure the notes are even and that all notes are played at the same dynamic. You’ll begin to hear the alternating bass notes throughout the piece almost immediately.

Opus 60 Study No. 7 – Breakdown

In #7, you’ll notice that a majority of the tune is comprised of arpeggios, which is where the picking challenge comes from. You’ll need to cross over strings and maneuver chord changes to keep the piece flowing. The moving bass and melody notes give this piece it’s unique sound and that in return really works out the picking hand.

There are eight more performance studies to learn in the full version of the course. There, as always, you’ll find the tab and notation to accompany each piece, as well as our Soundslice player to help you follow along with the performance. Don’t wait – check it out now!