Waltons New School of Music - Fingerstyle Guitar Course, Dublin

Fingerstyle Guitar Basics

Group Course for Intermediate Students

'Learn a song slowly, gradually build up speed, and practice like the devil.'
Doc Watson


Course Description

What is ‘fingerstyle guitar’? Theoretically ‘fingerstyle’ can be used to describe any style of guitar playing that uses the fingers to pluck the strings, rather than using a plectrum. As such, it can be said to encompass every style of music in which the guitar is used. However the term ‘fingerstyle guitar’, has in more recent years been used to describe a distinct guitar style centred around the steel-string acoustic guitar.

Waltons New School of Music's Fingerstyle Guitar Basics course aims to introduce students to some of the fundamentals of fingerstyle guitar playing, including:

Styles & Techniques. Positions, patterns and exercises; classical and folk variations; alternating bass (the ‘granddaddy’ of all fingerstyle guitar styles); monotonic bass; arpeggios and strumming styles.

History & Major Players. We’ll listen to music by some of the genre’s most influential players.

Songs. There is a large repertoire of songs that can only be played fingerstyle, and students will get a chance to learn some of these songs and see how they’re performed. Songs covered may include:

  • ’Ride On’ / ‘Black Is the Colour’ – Christy Moore
  • ’Scarborough Fair’ – Simon & Garfunkel
  • ’Freight Train’ – Elizabeth Cotton
  • ’Vincent’ (Starry, Starry Night) – Don McLean
  • ’Streets of London’ – Ralph McTell
  • ’Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ – Led Zeppelin
  • ’Blackbird’ – The Beatles
  • ’Never Going Back Again’ – Fleetwood Mac

(This list is by no means exhaustive. Songs to study will be chosen at the discretion of the teacher depending on the level of the class, although individual tablatures may be available upon request.)

Instrumentals. Selections from blues, folk, ragtime, classical and more modern fingerstyle pieces to illustrate the application of specific techniques and indicate the range and breadth of styles available. Instrumentals covered may include:

  • ’Is There Anybody Out There’ – Pink Floyd
  • ’Angi’ – Davey Graham
  • ’Orchid’ – Black Sabbath
  • ’Sligo River Blues’ – John Fahey
  • ’Romance’ – Anon.

Although this course is an introduction to fingerstyle guitar, it is not a course for guitar beginners. Participants should have at least one year’s playing experience, must be able to read guitar tablature and have a good grasp of basic open-position chords as well as standard barre chord fingerings. Changing from one chord to another should not be a problem. To gain the maximum benefit from the course, a steel string acoustic guitar is recommended, although nylon string or classical type guitars can also be used.

A demonstration of some of the techniques covered in the course:

Fingerstyle Guitar Basics is one of our group courses. Private, partner, group and intensive lessons in fingerstyle guitar and other guitar styles are also available. Go to Departments & Faculty – Guitar & Bass for more information.

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 Comments from Students

'A great introduction to fingerstyle guitar playing. The instructor was very thorough – and patient! I learned much more than I thought I would.'
– T. O'Brien

'A very, very knowledgeable teacher who clearly explains each technique. I learned so much from this class.'
– D. Murray

'This course was a great introduction to finger picking. It focused on the fundamental skills so we can keep developing as finger pickers on our own, and it gave us a nice repertoire of finger picking classics.'
– L. Valverde

Have you taken – or are you taking – this course? We would appreciate it if you could take a few moments to give us your feedback in a brief online questionnaire. Each term all feedback questionnaires are entered in a draw for a €50 gift token, which can be used either towards additional tuition at the school or for instruments, sheet music or accessories at Waltons Music shops.

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 Michael McInerney, Teacher

Michael began playing the guitar in his late teens, initially as a way of trying to make sense of the musical jargon that confounded him as he tried to teach himself the harmonica, his first instrument. It didn’t work. And so, for the next 18 years or so he meandered from one style to the next in search of that ever elusive piece by which he could finally say, ‘Now I can really play!’ The search continues. In the meantime he has, at one time or another, played blues, jazz, flamenco, slide-guitar, Irish traditional, some classical and a little ragtime – though his main interests remain blues, slide and fingerstyle guitar. He also has a keen interest in the use of alternate tunings and has built up a large resource on the subject. Although he sees himself as primarily an acoustic player, he also plays electric and is equally at home with pick or fingers. His experiences trying to figure out what was going on either from books or recordings has given him an insight into the difficulties faced by anyone trying to learn the guitar, and he remains committed to the idea that in order to teach you must first know what it’s like not to know. As a result, his guitar courses are the some of the most popular and successful in the history of the New School. Michael has written and performed solo guitar music for theatre and film and performed as a flamenco guitarist; he can also be heard with his band Master Blaster. He holds an LGSM (P), DipJazz from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, a BA in English and Philosophy from NUI Maynooth, and a Diploma in Drama Studies and an MA in Modern Drama from UCD.

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 2016-2017 Third Term Course Schedule & Fee

Not offered in Third Term.

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Enrolment for this course requires a completed Enrolment Form and full payment of the course fee. Places are limited to eight, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date of enrolment. Most of our group courses are fully booked well in advance of their start dates, so early enrolment is recommended.

Purchasing this course as a gift? Please complete a Gift Certificate Booking Form.

Located in Dublin city centre, Waltons New School of Music is a comprehensive music centre, combining music tuition of the highest standard with innovative approaches to music education. The New School offers tuition in the broadest range of instruments and subjects of any music school in Ireland, for students of all ages, levels and abilities.

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© 2017 Waltons New School of Music
  • 69 South Great George's Street Dublin 2 Ireland 
  • Phone: +353 1 478 1884
  • Fax: +353 1 475 1346
  • Email: info@newschool.ie
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