How to Choose a University or College Guitar Program

Question: Doug, I have heard from many people that your guitar program at the University of Missouri--Kansas City is one of the best in the world. But is it expensive and are you actually there much to teach, or does someone else do most of the teaching for you?

Answer: The University of Missouri, being a public institution, is not as expensive as most private institutions or music schools. And I do all the teaching--freshman music majors on up through doctoral students. For more information, click here.

The Three Most Important Things In Choosing A University or College Classical Guitar Program or Music School:

1. The NUMBER ONE most important consideration for anyone choosing a college or university classical guitar program, is to choose one based upon the person who is teaching guitar at the institution.

A pretty campus in a nice location with a beach or mountains is wonderful. But you are there to study the guitar, not go to the beach or the mountains. You are supposed to be practicing, remember?

As far as other course offerings, no matter where you study, music theory is music theory, music history is music history. Sure, some school may have a dynamic orchestration professor or a great orchestra. Well, if you want to major in composition or play in the orchestra fine, go there.

But you are studying the guitar. The person teaching the guitar is the number one thing you have to look at. And make sure he is there on campus to teach, not away on tour most of the time. Or if he is gone a substantial amount of time, find out how (and if) the missed lessons are made up.

2. The second most important thing in choosing a music school is to take at least one trial guitar lesson before making your application to the school.

If the professor is a great performer and has great credentials, it means nothing for you if he can't teach, isn't interested in teaching, or if good chemistry between the two of you is not there. You don't want to find out that you don't get along with the professor or that he doesn't like to teach AFTER writing a check for several thousand dollars to study there for a semester or year.

Insist on an actual private lesson, not just an interview. Most professors will do an hour lesson for free! Also, get the names and numbers of other current students and ask them questions about the professor and program.

3. The third most important thing in choosing a music school? SEE NUMBER ONE!