Meet The Masters

Processing Greatness

Processing greatness was something my guitar teacher, William G. Leavitt, creator of the Berklee method, used to love to say. By that he meant that reading songs, musical ideas, pieces and melodies written by great musical minds means you’re greatly adding to and augmenting your musical experience and expertise. Every bit of sight reading material he ever gave me, or that he wrote, not only sounded great, it was interesting, challenging and fun. A good bit of that material was drawn from the works of history’s great classical composers. Mr. Leavitt was also quite fond of the famous Duke Ellington quote, “There are only two types of music: good and bad!”


All of the really good sight readers and excellent music students that I know have a fairly decent sized collection of sight reading books. Although these collections are drawn from a wide variety of styles and genres most of these books can be categorized as classical music studies. Meaning they were originally written for orchestral instruments such as the flute, cello and violin. When I was in music school for example, my friends and I all had “Sonatas and Partitas For Unaccompanied Violin” by JS Bach in our backpacks for quick, high quality practice sessions. Using and incorporating classical music as part of your normal sight reading regimen has 2 huge benefits: (1) your brain is working overtime trying to find, play and rhythmicize all of the notes of course and (2) you will find yourself analyzing the music, thinking about why and how they did what they did to make such interesting and beautiful pieces.

Reading material

This is another one of those lessons where the rubber meets the road, where you are putting it all together: naming notes, finding notes and playing those rhythms of those notes correctly. If you’re like most people, what is going to trip you up is naming in finding notes. Essentially it’s no more than a few little facts and bits of information that you need to keep straight and at your fingertips. The diagram below contains all of those important little facts and bits of information. Essentially, as a proficient site reader, you’re responsible for all of it. Take a few minutes to study that diagram by looking at each and every note, saying the name of the note out loud and playing the notes on your guitar as you say them.


Below is a reading exercise based on the famous classical composition Can Can by Jaques Offenbach. It is our most difficult reading example to date because the notes are simply all over the place. That is however, the true nature of sight reading -you have to be ready for anything. In this example, you will want to learn both the melody part and the accompaniment part as both are well within the capabilities of anyone who is at this point in the course

The final piece for this lesson is a duet which I have adapted from a guitar solo by Ferdinand Sor. You will find the melody to be rich and interesting but not easy, as I said earlier you simply have to be ready for anything . Both the melody and the accompaniment parts are well within your capabilities and both parts should be studied and learned before progressing through the rest of the material in this course.

End Of Lesson 8


“My first experience with the guitar was taking lessons from Karl Aranjo as a high school student. His lessons were more than just a collection of tips and riffs: they were a method. As I look through, I get to take a trip back through those lessons and am reminded about I loved about them. His strong focus on the fundamentals quickly draws a connection between general music theory and the particulars of how that theory can be applied to the guitar, even allowing us as guitarists to use our instrument as an abacus-like tool to enhance our musical insight. In high school, Karl’s lessons got me up to speed to jam with my friends and in the school band almost immediately. In the almost 20 years since I left high school and had my last lesson with Karl, the things he taught me have continued to serve me well; I’ve played almost continuously in a variety of styles (jazz, rock, funk, folk), both as a hobby and as a part-time professional (currently playing with San Francisco’s Smash-Up Derby). If I hadn’t grown up in the same town as where Karl taught, I might have missed out on a lifetime of fun playing the guitar. With, wherever you are, you can benefit from the same quality instruction that I had!

-Grahm Ruby

“Mr. Karl Aranjo is one great teacher to work with. When working with him, he is very flexible, and will teach you all the basics and fundamentals you will need while learning how to play the guitar. From learning basic chords to crazy licks and solo’s. You will become an expert in no time and looking like a professional guitar player. In my experience, I learned to master chord progressions much easier and understand it in a better perspective. In my music career/hobby, it has given me nothing but success to play in a band as a front man/rhythm guitarist, compose my own type of music, and as well as songs that I really wanted to learn how to play on the guitar. Learning through Karl Aranjo was a great experience and has helped me understand the guitar a lot easier, I would not have wanted this learning experience any other way.”

-Julius Isaac

“I had the pleasure of being a guitar student of Karl’s for several years. Karl advanced my playing ability a great deal very quickly by giving me a perfect combination of guitar technique, theory and assigning songs that motivated me to continue learning. I highly recommend Karl for all level of guitar players no matter if you are a beginner or advanced.”

-Tom Hunt

”Karl Aranjo is a great and experienced teacher with an extensive knowledge of guitar playing and theory. His thorough online course, covers the whole spectrum from the first time beginner to advanced.”

Blake Aaron- Internationally Known Recording Artist

”Karl helped me dive into the blues when I was first starting out, and learning how to improvise opened up many doors for me on guitar. He has a vast knowledge ranging many musical styles, and i would recommend him to anyone trying to learn the instrument!”

Eric Cannata Young The Giant