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 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 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 students in grades 5 and up; For Lead Guitar at BMS, 4th-graders are welcome 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 2019-2020 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.

Aspen Middle School

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, starting October 7
  • Mondays
    • 3:35-4:20 PM for Beginning Students
    • 4:20-5:05 PM for Advanced Students
  • Wednesdays
    • 2:10-2:55 PM for Beginning Students
    • 2:55-3:40 PM for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Rodrigo Arreguin

Basalt Middle School

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting October 8
  • 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 8
  • 3:20-4:05 PM for Beginning Students
  • 4:10-4:55 PM for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Mateo Sandate

Carbondale Middle School

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, starting October 14
  • Mondays
    • 3:30-4:15 PM for Beginning Students
    • 4:20-5:05 PM for Advanced Students
  • Wednesdays
    • 2:00-2:45 PM for Beginning Students
    • 2:50-3:35 PM for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Bryan Duffy

Two Rivers Community School

  • Mondays and Thursdays, starting October 7
  • 4:00-4:45 PM for Beginning Students
  • 4:45-5:30 PM for Advanced Students
  • Taught by Ashton Taufer


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



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 12 students and a maximum participant number of 18 students.  Classes 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 Performances

  • January 16 – Lead Guitar Winter Concert:  Basalt Middle School, 6:30 PM
  • February 28 – AfterWorks Solo Recital:  Harris Concert Hall (Aspen), 6:00 PM (select students invited to perform)
  • April 16 – Lead Guitar Showcase:  Harris Concert Hall (Aspen), 6:30 PM



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 CGS103A 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 or smallest Lead Guitar students only. Typically some 4th and 5th-grade students require a 3/4-size guitar.
    • MSRP: $299
  • Yamaha C40 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. 

9/26/19:  No Scholarship or Rental guitars are available as of 9/26...  We have given out all of our scholarship and rental guitars.

After-School Program Cost: $225

Cost includes twenty weeks of classes (two 45-minute classes per week!) taught by guitar specialists, two concerts (Winter Concert on January 16 and Lead Guitar Showcase on April 16 in Harris Concert Hall, plus select students may be invited to participate in the AfterWorks Solo Recital on February 28), 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.  The program cost is only $5.35 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 be in class as much as possible.  If space allows at a particular school, mid-year enrollment will be permitted; the tuition amount remains the same.

The AfterWorks Refund Policy is as follows:

Once a student has registered for an AfterWorks program (Beginning Strings, Lead Guitar, or Maroon Bel Canto Children’s 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

Late Registration Fee: $25

Students who complete the Lead Guitar registration form after 8 AM on Thursday, October 3 will be assessed a Late Registration Fee of $25 to cover late application processing and ordering of additional student supplies. 


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.

9/19/19:  VERY FEW tuition scholarships remain as of September 19, 2019.  Tuition scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis, and almost all scholarship funds have been allocated.

9/26/19:  No Scholarship or Rental guitars are available as of 9/26...  We have given out all of our scholarship and rental guitars.

Payment Plan

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



How to Register

The registration period was open August 22 – October 2.  Registration for the 2019-2020 school year is now closed.



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