Background & Methodology

How will classical guitar lessons help me?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself before taking guitar lessons.

To find the answer, ask yourself this:

“Do I want to play more complex music, learn pieces faster, and gain a deeper understanding of how and why the music is doing what it’s doing?”

If the answer is “yes“, then one-on-one lessons are a great option for you.

The outcome will vary from person to person (this is your guitar journey after all!). But here’s what learning classical guitar has done for me:

After dedicated one-on-one instruction:

  • The pieces that I thought were physically impossible became easier to play.
  • When I saw a music score for the first time, my eyes no longer blurred and got lost on the page–I now had a plan of action to read more fluidly.
  • I gained a deeper understanding of how music works and why it sounds the way it does.
  • The fretboard finally started making more sense.
  • I felt inspired and confident in learning new pieces of music.
Bach - Cello Suite No. 1: Prelude, BWV 1007 | Classical Guitar | Jonathan Richter

However, there’s many other benefits you can receive beyond just ‘learning how to play the instrument‘. Guitar is something that can help you personally, professionally, and even emotionally on a daily basis.

Today, I pass this knowledge on to students nationwide to help them reach their full guitar potential.

If you’re ready to take your playing to the next level, please contact me today!


Jump to Section:

Jonathan Richter, Atlanta Classical guitar lessons

Methodology

My approach to teaching guitar adapts depending on the student’s individual needs. But ultimately, my main goal as your instructor is simple:

I’m here to help you sound better at guitar, and gain a deeper understanding of how music works!

I believe that instilling strong fundamentals, like proper posture and hand technique, is crucial to developing one’s ability. Establishing the proper techniques early on can save you time and energy when learning more advanced pieces. Furthermore, proper technique will keep your hand muscles healthy long-term and help your tonality.

I also believe that learning a bit about a composer’s life and listening to various interpretations of a piece are essential to understanding the music and conveying it in an effective way through performance.

Guitar is an excellent form of self-expression, and a great way to connect with people from diverse cultures and soundscapes. As your teacher, I’m here to help you be part of this timeless tradition in a way that’s informative, effective, and fun!

Beginner

Beginners can expect to learn the fundamentals of playing guitar, including:

  • Tuning the guitar
  • Proper posture
  • Changing guitar strings
  • Basic chord shapes, transitions, and relationships
  • Rhythm (strumming and playing consistently)
  • Basic sheet music reading strategies
  • Left hand strengthening exercises and warm ups
  • Simple, but beautiful right hand finger picking patterns
  • Beginner etudes (studies)

My promise to absolute beginners: I guarantee that you will be able to play your first guitar chord cleanly within 1 hour! 

Intermediate

  • Basic music theory
  • Reading more advanced sheet music (such as upper position notes)
  • More advanced left and right hand exercises (speed, strength, agility)
  • Barre chord endurance, precision, and confidence
  • A focus on improving tonality and musicality (finding your own “voice”)
  • An introduction to polyphony (playing multiple melody lines at once)
  • Ear training exercises to help with improvisation, sight reading, and harmonic and melodic recognition
  • Intermediate etudes (studies) and solo compositions

Wondering what types of pieces you can expect to be playing at this stage? Check out my album 20 Classical Guitar Etudes for Beginner and Intermediate Students!

Advanced

Advanced lessons are available for those with years of guitar experience who have mastered the basic techniques and are ready to learn performance-level pieces. Students at the advanced level will achieve the skills necessary to read sheet music and learn the bulk of their repertoire independently.

Contact me to set up a lesson schedule, or if you would like to know more!

Looking for info about online guitar lessons? Click Here.

Jonathan Richter, Classical guitarist Atlanta, GA

Background

Bored with the Basics

At 13 years old I locked my trombone in its case for the final time, threw away the key, and let out a deep sigh of relief. I decided to learn guitar instead of playing in the middle school band, and thankfully my parents agreed.

But I didn’t know the first thing about ‘fingerstyle’ guitar playing, how to play a solo melody, or why certain chords sounded so good together while others did not.

With the help of my dad and a couple of family friends, I quickly learned how to transition between basic chords–somewhat fluidly at least. Playing folk and rock songs was pretty fun, but I realized that as a solo guitarist there was no way I could recreate all the diverse sounds and special energy I heard in my dad’s old Grateful Dead recordings.

After a few months I felt like my abilities peaked. Progress came to a standstill. I was bored with playing the same basic chords and strumming patterns, and wanted to learn how to play with more emotion, confidence, and finesse.

The Transformation

Fortunately, I also grew up listening to the classical guitar recordings of my uncle David Richter, a teacher and prominent classical guitar performer. Oftentimes I would find myself listening to his recordings of great composers like Bach or Tárrega and think “how is it possible that just one guitar can produce such full, beautiful, and intricate music?“.

I still remember the first time I got the chance to watch him play. His hands looked like magic. I watched his left hand shift effortlessly at breakneck speed up and down the fretboard, always landing firmly on the correct fret and the perfect part of the string. Meanwhile his right hand flowed with such speed and grace it looked like a mirage, yet every note rang crystal clear. Now that’s what I call guitar playing!

At that moment it dawned on me that if I could learn the skills necessary to play classical guitar, then I could probably learn any other guitar style with relative ease.

With years of hard work and excellent guidance from my mentors, my guitar playing goals became a reality!

Below are a few of the educational experiences that helped me there.

Guilford College

I graduated from Guilford College in 2010 with B.A. in Music and East Asian Studies. At Guilford, I studied the Shearer Guitar method under Kami Rowan. As part of my coursework, I was an active member of the Guilford College Guitar Ensemble. Guilford is also where I learned the fundamentals of music theory and history.

Guilford College Guitar Ensemble (2010)
Guilford College Guitar Ensemble (2010)

This is where I learned to specialize in classical, Spanish, and flamenco styles of guitar. However, I also enjoy playing the works of various composers and styles from around the world. In fact, I enjoy this so much I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in ethnomusicology!

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

After graduating from Guilford, I completed my MA in Music from the The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2013. During that time I specialized in the music of China and East Asia in the Ethnomusicology department.

Jonathan Richter guitar in Honolulu
Performing at the Honolulu Museum of Art, 2012

I played classical guitar throughout my time in Honolulu. I also learned many world instruments, played in the Chinese Ensemble, crafted musical arrangements for guitar, and served as a founding member and Activities officer of the Ethnomusicology Association (EMA).

The best part of all? I had the joy of meeting diverse musicians and virtuosos from around the world. All of these people and experiences have helped shape my musicianship and approach to musical learning.

Fulbright Scholarship & Music in China

I later went on to conduct extensive fieldwork in China on a Fulbright Scholarship from 2012-2013. During this time, I researched the mouth harp of the Yi minority group in southwest China. I was also fortunate enough to team up with a local professor to create our documentary film, Masters of the Yi Mouth Harp.

“Masters of the Yi Mouth Harp” (Full movie HD) | “彝族口弦大师” 电影 | 中国小数民族音乐人类学

Contact me to set up a lesson schedule, or if you would like to know more.


Learn Guitar Today

Ready to take your playing to the next level? I’d love to be the one to help you reach your musical goals–just like the dozens of other students I’ve helped since 2016.