Aspen Music Festival And School

Lead Guitar

Complete classical guitar instruction in after-school classes.

Schools  |  Cost and Scholarship  |  Register

Program Information 

Lead Guitar is a program of the University of Arizona and is proudly offered here in the Roaring Fork Valley in collaboration with the Aspen Music Festival and School.  Founded by master guitarist Brad Richter, Lead Guitar uses music and an instrument to which young people relate very well.  Lead Guitar students learn classical guitar technique, music reading, theory, performance skills and ensemble playing in twice-weekly group classes, through which they develop their self-discipline, self-esteem and ability to work as a team - attributes that help them realize success throughout their lives!  The Lead Guitar curriculum emphasizes music reading, allowing students to become independent musicians, capable of taking their guitar skills to any style of playing.  The program is designed for students in grades 4 and up (at Basalt Middle School, preference in the program is given to 5th-8th grades; For Lead Guitar at BMS, 4th-graders are encouraged to apply but will only be accepted on a space-available basis).



The Lead Guitar program is offered as an after-school program at five schools during the 2018-2019 school year: Aspen Middle School, Basalt Middle School, Carbondale Community School, Carbondale Middle School, and Two Rivers Community School.

All Roaring Fork Valley students (regardless of what school they attend during the school year) are welcome to participate in a Lead Guitar class at any hosting school.

Glenwood Springs Elementary School and St. Stephen Catholic School teach the Lead Guitar program as part of their in-school music curriculum.

Aspen Middle School

  • Mondays and Thursdays, starting October 8
    • 3:45-4:30 pm for Beginning Students
    • 4:35-5:20 pm for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Andy Farmer

Basalt Middle School

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting October 9
  • 3:45-4:30 pm for Beginning Students
  • 4:30-5:15 pm for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Nick Lenio

Carbondale Community School

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting October 9
  •  3:35-4:20 pm for Begining Students
  • 4:25-5:10 pm for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Mateo Sandate

Carbondale Middle School

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, starting October 10
  • Mondays
    • 3:40-4:25 pm for Beginning Students
    • 4:30-5:15 pm for Advanced Students
  • Wednesdays
    • 2:10-2:55 pm for Beginning Students
    • 3:00-3:45 pm for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Harris Jackson

Two Rivers Community School

  • Mondays and Thursdays, starting October 8
  • 3:45-4:30 pm for Beginning Students
  • 4:30-5:15 pm for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Ashton Taufer


Students in their first year of Lead Guitar instruction participate in the Beginning class at their schools. Students in their third year of Lead Guitar or beyond (who achieved at least intermediate-level ability in playing in the past) participate in the Advanced class at their schools.  Students in their second year of Lead Guitar instruction should attend both the Beginning and Advanced class for the first week, until the instructor determines whether that student should be in the Beginning or Advanced class, unless you already have word from your Lead Guitar instructor as to which class is best for you.  All students will be assessed during the first week of class to ensure they are placed into the correct level of class.

All classes have a minimum participant number of 8 students and a maximum participant number of 18 students.  Class are expected to fill to capacity, but if any classes do not meet the minimum participant number, we will notify registered participants that the class will be cancelled.

Lead Guitar Chamber Music Program

Designed specifically for our most advanced Lead Guitar students, the Lead Guitar Chamber Music program will provide chamber music and guitar orchestra opportunities for classical guitar students playing at an advanced level. For all of the Lead Guitar students who are now in high school, have been working in classical guitar private lessons or through the P.A.L.S. program, and/or have moved past the level of the traditional Lead Guitar classes at your schools, this is your chance to continue progressing in advanced classical guitar performance through a series of chamber music coachings and guitar orchestra rehearsals where you'll work with the AMFS’s Lead Guitar ArtistYear Teaching Fellow, Henry Bayless. Lead Guitar students who have been involved in the program for at least three previous school years and have reached an advanced level of performance capability (must be capable of playing Andante [Method Book II, page 17] accurately at quarter note = 100, or beyond in Method Book II) are eligible to apply for participation.  Not all eligible students will be selected to participate.

After-School Program Cost: $225

Cost includes twenty weeks of classes (two 45-minute classes per week!) taught by highly-qualified music educators, two concerts (Winter Concert on January 17 and Lead Guitar Showcase on April 18, plus select students will also be invited to participate in the Lead Guitar Solo Recital in March), dinner before the final Showcase concert, and all music.  This program is heavily subsidized by the AMFS and generous donors, and the actual program cost is more than $700 per student.

Please note that this is a twenty-week program and that students should commit to the entire series of classes. Obviously, some conflicts could arise, but in order for students to learn classical guitar, they need to be in class as much as possible.

The AfterWorks Refund Policy is as follows:

Once a student has applied and paid the tuition for an AfterWorks program (Beginning Strings, Lead Guitar, or Maroon Bel Canto Children’s Chorus), the following policy will apply to tuition refunds if that student chooses to leave the AfterWorks program:

  • Before first class/rehearsal: full tuition refund
  • Between first and third class/rehearsal: half tuition refund
  • After third class/rehearsal: no refund

Lead Guitar Performances

  • January 17 – Lead Guitar Winter Concert:  Basalt Middle School, 6:30pm (student call times TBD)
  • April 18 – Lead Guitar Showcase:  Harris Concert Hall (Aspen), 6:30pm (student call times TBD)

Late Registration Fee: $50

Students who complete the Lead Guitar application form after 5pm on Friday, October 5 will be assessed a Late Registration Fee of $50 to cover late application processing and ordering of additional student supplies. 


Students in Lead Guitar classes are required to have their own classical, nylon-string guitar. All students should have a guitar ready for the first day of Lead Guitar class.  In order to procure a guitar, students have several options:

1. Purchase a guitar through the AMFS at a heavily discounted Lead Guitar-student rate.  There are three guitar options for purchase:

  • Yamaha CGS103AII Guitar (3/4-size guitar - for our youngest, smallest Lead Guitar students only), electronic tuner, and soft case:  Lead Guitar price = $127
    • Yamaha CGS103AII classical guitar is a great instrument for small students learning the ins and outs of classical guitar technique. The guitars feature a spruce top, Mercanti back and sides, a nato neck, and a rosewood bridge and fingerboard. Yamaha is famous for producing great-sounding budget classical guitars, and the CGS instruments will reward the learner with years of musical pleasure.
    • This 3/4-size guitar is for our youngest, smallest Lead Guitar students only. Typically only a few very small 4th-grade students require a 3/4-size guitar.
    • MSRP: $299
  • Yamaha C4011 Full Size Guitar, electronic tuner, and soft case: Lead Guitar price = $131
    • Beginners will appreciate the level of quality found in the C4011 classical guitar. This quality instrument delivers outstanding cost performance with exceptional playability and superb tone. The C40II might be one of Yamaha's most inexpensive full-size classical models, but its quality and tone are outstanding. A real bargain for beginners.
    • MSRP: $319
  • Yamaha CG102 Guitar, electronic tuner, and soft case: Lead Guitar price = $166
    • Drawing upon the vast knowledge and techniques of our master craftsmen, the CG series nylon string guitars where developed to deliver top level sound quality, performance and playability. Yamaha's most reasonably priced classical guitar offers a rich tone that beginners will find inspiring. This is a full-size classical guitar with a spruce top and nato back and sides. It features a rosewood fingerboard and a 52 mm nut width for traditional classical play. This would make an excellent choice for the young guitarist seeking to improve his or her nylon-string skills or even for the seasoned player looking for an inexpensive guitar to always have within reach.
    • MSRP: $410

2. Rent a guitar from the AMFS: A limited number of guitars are available to rent at the rate of $20 per month, for six months. 

3. Apply for an instrument scholarship to use an AMFS-owned guitar for the school year: A limited number of scholarship guitars are available to students who demonstrate significant financial need.

4. Bring your own guitar: Students may bring their own guitars, but they MUST be classical guitars (have nylon strings). Not sure if your guitar is classical or acoustic? Watch this video, check the strings (classical guitars have three strings that look like clear plastic (nylon) while acoustic guitars have all metal strings), or take the guitar to Glenwood Music and have them identify it. 


A limited number of tuition scholarships are available to students who demonstrate significant financial need.  Additionally, a limited number of instrument scholarships are available to students who are unable to afford the cost of purchasing or renting a guitar.

September 19, 2018: All tuition scholarship funds have been distributed and no tuition scholarship remains for the 2018-2019 Lead Guitar program. We are happy to set up tuition payment plans for accepted students.

A minimum payment of $75 is needed to kick off the payment plan, and students then have until February 1 at 5 PM to pay the remainder. After starting the payment plan, students/parents can log in to the accepted student’s account and pay the full balance through the AMFS Status Page, call the AMFS Education department directly to make partial payment via credit card, or mail a check for full or partial payment.

Guitar scholarships are still available for students to use an AMFS-owned guitar while enrolled in the Lead Guitar program during the 2018-2019 school year.

How to Register

Registration is closed for the 2018-2019 school year.

About AfterWorks

The Aspen Music Festival and School’s AfterWorks program offers after-school, in-school and summer programming, in collaboration with Valley schools, to support music education. These programs are designed to complement the quality music instruction students receive from schools and private instructors.

To learn more, please contact:
Katie Hone Wiltgen
Director of Education and Community Programming
970 205 5055

Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO