Aspen Music Festival And School

Lead Guitar

After-school classical guitar instruction for beginning through advanced students, in grades 5+

Schools  |  Cost and Scholarship  |  Register

IN-PERSON CLASSES are back in Lead Guitar!!
Classes begin the week of October 4.

Registration for the 2021-2022 school year opens on Friday, August 27
and closes on Wednesday, September 29, or as classes fill to capacity. 




Program Overview 

Lead Guitar is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization and an affiliate program of the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts' family of outreach programs.  Founded by master guitarist Brad Richter, Lead Guitar is proudly offered here in the Roaring Fork Valley in collaboration with the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Lead Guitar students learn classical guitar technique, music theory and literacy, performance skills, and ensemble playing in 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 5 and up.  Responsible 4th-graders are welcome to apply but will only be accepted on a space-available basis and only if students are able to function independently and maturely in a class setting with older, middle school-aged students.  We typically see students have the most success in this program when they start class in 5th grade or above. 

High school students and expert-level middle school players are eligible to participate in the Lead Guitar Chamber Music program.



After-school Lead Guitar classes begin the week of October 4. Each in-person class includes a warm-up routine, weekly lesson objective, and clear practice strategies as students move through the thoughtfully designed Lead Guitar curriculum, supported by the Lead Guitar teacher at their school.

Class Levels

Students in their first year of Lead Guitar instruction participate in the Beginning class. 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.  Students in their second year of Lead Guitar instruction should attend both the Beginning and Advanced class for the first week the program, until the instructor determines whether that student should be in the Beginning or Advanced class.  All students will be reassessed during the first week of class to ensure they are placed into the correct class level.

Lead Guitar Chamber Music:  For High School and Very Advanced Players

Are you in high school or a very advanced middle school player?  We have an option for you!  While we know that most Lead Guitar students are in middle school, we have created a Lead Guitar Chamber Music program for our older and more advanced students.  This small group of hand-picked older or more-advanced players will work with Lead Guitar Regional Director Nick Lenio and other master teachers on small ensemble performance, extended technique, and advanced repertoire, with only one or two students to a part.  Students will meet in a central location, based on shared availability.


Schools:  2021-2022 School Year

Lead Guitar will run as an after-school program at five schools during the 2021-2022 school year.

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

Do you have a scheduling conflict with the Lead Guitar days at your school this fall?  We can be flexible... Reach out to us about options!

Meet the AfterWorks Teachers

Aspen Middle School

  • Beginning-Level Class
    • Tuesdays (note: only one class day per week)
    • 3:55-5:25 PM
    • Taught by Jalen Lee
    • Classes begin October 5
  • Advanced-Level Class
    • Tuesdays (note: only one class day per week)
    • 3:55-5:25 PM
    • Taught by James Katzenberger
    • Classes begin October 5

Basalt Middle School

  • Mondays and Wednesdays
    • Mondays:
      • 3:40-4:25 PM for Beginning Students
      • 4:30-5:15 PM for Advanced Students
    • Wednesdays:
      • 2:20-3:05 PM for Beginning Students
      • 3:10-3:55 PM for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Nick Lenio
  • Classes begin October 4


Carbondale Middle School

  • Beginning-Level Class
    • Tuesdays and Thursdays
    • 3:40-4:25 PM
    • Taught by Christina Wenning
    • Classes begin October 5
  • Advanced-Level Class
    • Wednesdays (note: only one class day per week)
    • 3:45-5:15 PM
    • Taught by Maryam Hajialigol
    • Classes begin October 6


Riverview School

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays
    • 3:40-4:25 PM for Beginning Students
  • Taught by Maryam Hajialigol
  • Classes begin October 5


Two Rivers Community School

  • Mondays and Thursdays
    • 3:45-4:30 PM for Beginning Students
    • 4:35-5:20 PM for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Ashton Taufer
  • Classes begin October 4


Do you have a scheduling conflict with the Lead Guitar days at your school this fall?  We can be flexible... Reach out to us about options!


After-School Program Cost: $240

Cost includes twenty weeks of classes (two 45-minute classes OR one 90-minute class per week, depending on school) taught by guitar specialists, performance opportunities (including the Winter Concert, Solo Recital, and Lead Guitar Showcase Concert , if allowed by public health orders), dinner before the final Showcase concert, and all music and digital resources. 

This program is heavily subsidized by the AMFS and generous donors, and the actual program cost is more than $700 per student.  The program cost to students/families is only $5.50 per class/concert!

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 attend class as much as possible.


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.

10/1/2021 - No Tuition or Instrument Scholarships Remain:  We are happy to set up tuition payment plans for accepted students.  All AMFS-owned scholarship and rental guitars have been allocated at this time.

Payment Plan

Payment plans for Lead Guitar tuition are available, if necessary, and can be requested during the acceptance process.

Late Registration Fee

Students who complete the Lead Guitar registration form after 8 AM on Thursday, September 30 may be assessed a Late Registration Fee of $25 to cover late application processing and ordering of additional student supplies. 

AfterWorks Refund Policy

Once a student has registered for an AfterWorks program (Beginning Strings, Chamber Collab, Lead Guitar, or Maroon Bel Canto Choirs), 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



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.  We’ll bring the guitar to your Lead Guitar school to be ready for the first day of class!  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 backpack-strap 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 some 4th and 5th-grade students require a 3/4-size guitar.
    • MSRP: $299
    • 10/6/21 - back in stock soon!
  • Yamaha C4011 Full Size Guitar, electronic tuner, and backpack-strap 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
    • 10/6/21 - back in stock soon!
  • Yamaha CG102 Full Size Guitar, electronic tuner, and backpack-strap 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 (rental payments October-March).   10/1/2021 - No Rental Guitars Remain

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 are unable to afford the cost of purchasing a guitar or renting an AMFS-owned guitar while enrolled in Lead Guitar.  10/1/2021 - No Instrument Scholarships Remain

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 [steel string] have all metal strings), or take the guitar to Glenwood Music and have them identify it. 

Lead Guitar Performances

  • January, TBD - Lead Guitar Winter Concert |  
  • February 25, 2022 – AfterWorks Solo Recital  |  Select students invited to perform  |  Harris Concert Hall (Aspen)  |
  • April, TBD – Lead Guitar Showcase  |  Harris Concert Hall (Aspen)  | 

* Performances will only take place if large-group gatherings are allowed by local health officials.
* Lead Guitar classes end after the Lead Guitar Showcase in April.


How to Register

Registration for Lead Guitar opens on Friday, August 27 and closes on Wednesday, September 29.  Late registrations will be accepted starting Thursday, September 30, if space remains in classes, and may be subject to a $25 late registration fee.



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
Dean of Education and Community
970 205 5055

Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO