Modern Guitar MUSIC 2008

Modern Guitar

“Modern Guitar” is a continuation of “History and Techniques of the Guitar”. In this class you will further your playing ability by learning new chords, learning scales and how to improvise and jam and learning how to write your own music.

The course will focus on various styles of playing (jazz, blues, rock, folk) and attempt to provide the skills necessary to have a modicum of ability in each of the various styles.

The class will be part lecture/listening/viewing and part playing. The focus will be on the playing side of things and whatever is discussed will be played. The class will include daily technique practice, ensemble playing, and improvisation sessions.

There will be some written work but the majority of the work will be guitar playing.


Ability to play first position chords and a few bar chords reasonably well. If you have taken MUSC2007 and passed you will be ok.

Some basic music theory to the level of MUSC2007.

A keen interest in learning more about the guitar and improving your playing.

History and Techniques of the Guitar

Spend your time listening to music, watching videos and learning techniques of some the world’s great guitarists: Eric Clapton, Andres Segovia, Stevie Ray Vaughan and others.

We’ll examine guitar styles from classical to flamenco, celtic to jazz. Lectures will feature audio and visual presentations as well as practical instruction.

You do not need to be a master of the guitar or a music student to attend this course. You will, however, need a guitar.

Music 2007 Course Content

General – How the guitar is constructed; it’s care and maintenance; history of the guitar; various musical styles.

Reading Music – How to read guitar music on the staff as well as guitar tablature.

Scales – What scales are; how scales are formed; how to use scales when improvising; what scales to use in various situations.

– First position chords, bar chords, extended chords, how chords are constructed, rhythm and strumming techniques.

Guitar Styles
– Through audio-visual examples, students will be exposed to many  guitar styles including blues, classical, rock, jazz, celtic, new age and flamenco. Students will learn the rudiments of these various styles.

What You Will Need

All students in the class will need to have a guitar. Any type of guitar will do, although an acoustic is preferable for playing with other students in class. If an electric guitar is the only type available to the student, it is fine to use light amplification. The costs for this course for text-books, concerts, etc. is approximately $100.


There are no pre-requisites, so any level of proficiency, including beginner level, is sufficient.

How You Are Graded

There will be two tests neither of which will grade your guitar playing ability. Rather you will be marked on your understanding of the course materials. For example, you may be required to write out the fingering for a chord, but you will not be required to play it.

Who Can Enroll

Any university student who has an interest in the guitar, who wants to learn how to play or to improve their ability, who wants to increase their understanding of the guitar (chords, strumming, improvising, etc.) or who enjoys music and wants to attend a class that is interesting and great fun at the same time.

United Breaks Guitars

Local Halifax band The Sons of Maxwell, has struck a nerve with it’s brilliant video, United Breaks Guitars.

If you have ever traveled by air with your guitar you will certainly relate to this video. I can’t remember the number of times that I waited for luggage at the end of a flight, in angst wondering if my guitar was going to make it. Luckily for me, it always did.

Well, in Dave Carroll’s case, his beloved Taylor 710 guitar didn’t make it. The Sons of Maxwell were on tour in Nebraska and while sitting on the tarmac waiting for all the luggage to be loaded, Dave heard the woman behind him scream, “My god, they’re throwing guitars out there”. The bass player looked out the window and saw his bass flying. The guitar before had been Dave’s Taylor. You can read the rest of the story here: United Breaks Guitars.

After a year or so of run-arounds and excuses Dave made this video. Check it out. It’s genius. Apparently, there are two more videos coming. Stay tuned.

Scott Macmillan – Guitar Instructor

scott-macmillan-guitar“Ordinarily you would ask, why is a guitar player writing fiddle tunes? But there is nothing ordinary about Scott Macmillan.” – Chronicle Herald

“Macmillan is a wonderful musical ambassador for evrey genre of music from this area and a joy to work with.” — Susan Mitton, CBC Halifax

“Scott Macmilan has helped us define our culture” — The Coast

Halifax’s Scott Macmillan enjoys a stellar reputation in Nova Scotia and abroad for his unusual versatility working in the fields of classical, pop, jazz, blues and celtic music.  A master guitarist, he has worked professionally for more than 30 years widening the audience for the music of Atlantic Canada, both nationally and internationally. Mr. Macmillan played a key role in the rise of the Rankin Family Band, Rita MacNeil, and the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, as well as the highly successful Maritime Pops Series with Symphony Nova Scotia (SNS).  He was the inaugural Host Conductor and Arranger for this series from the mid 1980s to 2004, building bridges and creating relationships between the classical world and the diverse Nova Scotian musical and cultural communities.

Mr. Macmillan’s creative passion has led to many exciting opportunities to compose new works.  He received creative support from Canada Council to compose “Currents of Sable Island” and his first symphony “Summus”.  The NS Dept of Culture & Heritage support the creation of a series of scores for his own 12-piece group “Scott ‘n’ the Rocks” as well as “Within Sight of Shore”, depicting the last Canadian warship sunk in WWII, HMSC Esquimalt, of which his father was the Commanding Officer. Macmillan’s much-loved Canadian choral classic “Celtic Mass for the Sea” has been performed over 60 times since its premiere with SNS in 1991, including in Carnegie Hall, the U.K., Germany and Switzerland. Annual Mr. Macmillan directs “Le Grand Cercle”, a cornerstone of a major community/cultural/tourism initiative in Cheticamp, NS, which he co-created with writer and artistic director Paul Gallant.

Mr. Macmillan is an original member of The Guitar Summit and a multiple East Coast Music Award winner for his recordings with the innovative group Puirt a Baroque, “Bach meets Cape Breton”, and for his own collaborative recordings “The Minnie Sessions Volumes 1, 2, and 3” and the “MacKinnon’s Brook Suite” which he composed for Ian MacKinnon and SNS and later broadcast for CBC television.

In 1977 Mr. Macmillan received a Doctor of Letters from Cape Breton University and in June 2008 was bestowed an Honorary Diploma from the NSCC School of Applied Arts and New Media for his significant role in the design and development of their new Music Arts and Business Program.

Douglas Reach – Guitar Section Coordinator

dReach_with_electric“Recital Exhilarating (headline) … a performer of impressive capabilities “
Winnipeg Free Press

“A gifted artist whose musical attributes inspire both pleasure and appreciation … considerable technical facility and musicianship was inherent in Reach’s playing … His Bach playing was glorious – spirited and full of grace”
Halifax Chronicle Herald

“Exciting and impressive … Mr. Reach’s playing displayed confidence and commitment to the music” – The Soundboard, California

Douglas-Reach-Bach-to-blues-CDDouglas Reach has performed across Canada and the United States as both soloist and in chamber music settings. As well as performing the standard repertoire, he is also known for his dynamic and committed performances of the contemporary repertoire. In this regard, Mr. Reach has premiered many new works and has also commissioned and had numerous pieces dedicated to him. His performances have been heard regularly on CBC radio and television

Douglas-Reach-cd-minniesessions3Recently Mr. Reach has being exploring alternative musical styles and as a result is featured on the Mini Sessions CD Vol.III with well-known Celtic musician Scott MacMillan. As well, the BachToBlues project (with guitarist Michael Scott) recently released their first CD, The Art of Guitar. This CD explores a number of musical styles from Baroque to contemporary classical to flamenco, country and blues.

Mr. Reach is also the author of the four volume video series Learning Classical Guitar which is distributed internationally by Mel Bay Publications.

douglas-reach_Learn-Classical-Guitar_vidWinner of numerous awards, Douglas Reach was a prize winner in the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Guitar competition. He has also been the recipient of numerous grants and awards from the Canada council, the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Aspen Music Festival.

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