Lead Guitar

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

Schools  |  Cost and Scholarship  |  Guitars

Registration is now closed for the 2023-2024 school year. Check back in August 2024 for registration information for 2024-2025!

Parent Handbook 2023-2024 // Manual Para Padres 2023-2024

Para leer esta página o aplicación en español, haga clic derecho sobre el ratón y seleccione "Translate." Luego haga clic en los tres puntos en la parte superior derecha de la página web, haga clic en "Choose another language" y seleccione "Spanish."

Program Overview 

Lead Guitar is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded by guitarist-composer-educator Brad Richter. Lead Guitar partners with arts organizations and higher education institutions to provide students with experiential learning opportunities at top-notch facilities. Lead Guitar is proudly offered locally 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. 



After-school Lead Guitar classes begin in mid-October. Each class includes a warm-up routine, weekly lesson objective, and clear practice strategies as students move through the thoughtfully designed Lead Guitar curriculum.  

Green Circle: Students in their first year of Lead Guitar instruction always participate in the Green Circle class. In Green Circle, we start at the beginning of Lead Guitar Method Book 1, learning proper set-up, music reading skills, and left/right hand independence on the first songs, progressing into songs with increasing rhythmic complexity. Students progress to the Blue Square class level when they can confidently of Method Book 1 Level One and most pieces in Level Two.

Blue Square: Students in the Blue Square class have had at least one year in Lead Guitar class and can demonstrate proficiency on all Method Book 1 Level One pieces and most Level Two pieces.

- Some students in their second year of Lead Guitar instruction will be ready for the Blue Square class, while some will be better served through a refresher in the Green Circle class. 
- All students will be reassessed during the first week of class to ensure they are placed into the correct class level.

Black Diamond: Students who can confidently play Leyenda (in Level Four of Method Book 1; thumb and fingers) are invited to participate in the select Black Diamond ensemble (below).


Black Diamond Ensemble

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 Black Diamond Ensemble experience for our older and most advanced students. This small group of hand-picked, advanced players work with Lead Guitar Director of Instruction Nick Lenio and expert teaching artist Mateo Sandate on classical guitar technique, advanced ensemble playing, solo guitar, and extended technique. Students will play advanced repertoire, with only one or two students to a part. Students will meet in one of two central locations (Basalt or Carbondale). This experience is for motivated students who want to progress in their own playing and are dedicated to practicing consistently outside of class to make sure they can independently play their assigned parts.


Schools:  2023-2024 School Year

Lead Guitar will run as an after-school program at four schools during the 2023-2024 school year. Classes begin the week of October 16. 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.

Meet the AfterWorks Teachers

Basalt Middle School

  • Mondays and Wednesdays
  • Mondays:
    3:40-4:25 PM - Green Circle class
    4:30-5:15 PM - Blue Square class
    2:10-2:55 PM - Green Circle class
    3:00-3:45 PM - Blue Square class
  • Classes begin October 16
  • Taught by Nick Lenio| Location: BMS Band Room
  • View your class schedule HERE!

Ross Montessori School (Carbondale)

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • 3:45-4:30 PM - Green Circle class
    4:35-5:20 PM - Blue Square class
  • Classes begin October 17
  • Taught by Tim Caskin | Location: Classroom #143
  • View your class schedule HERE!

Riverview School

  • Mondays and Wednesdays
  • Mondays:
    3:40-4:25 PM - Green Circle class
    4:30-5:15 PM - Blue Square class
    2:10-2:55 PM - Green Circle class
    3:00-3:45 PM - Blue Square class
  • Classes begin October 16
  • Taught by Mateo Sandate | Location: Think Tank (across from the main music room)
  • View your class schedule HERE!

Two Rivers Community School

  • Mondays and Thursdays
  • 3:45-4:30 PM - Green Circle class
    4:35-5:20 PM - Blue Square class
  • Classes begin October 16
  • Taught by Ashton Taufer | Location: Classroom #130
  • View your class schedule HERE!

Black Diamond Ensemble

  • Basalt
    • Wednesdays, 3:50-5:05 pm (or at an alternate time depending on student/teacher availability), starting October 18
    • BMS Band Room
    • Taught by Nick Lenio
  • Carbondale
    • Wednesdays, 4-5:25 pm, starting October 18
    • Steve's Guitars - Carbondale
    • Taught by Mateo Sandate

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


After-School Program Cost: $240

Cost includes 20 weeks of classes (two 45-minute classes OR one 90-minute class per week, depending on school) taught by guitar specialists, performance opportunities, all music, and access to Lead Guitar online 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 20-week program and students should commit to the entire series of classes. 

Scholarships & Payment Plans

A limited number of tuition scholarships are available to students who demonstrate significant financial need. Tuition payment plans are also available, if necessary, and can be requested during the acceptance process.Additionally, a limited number of instrument scholarships are available to students who are unable to afford the cost of purchasing or renting a guitar.

AfterWorks Refund Policy

Once a student has registered for an AfterWorks program (Beginning Strings, Chamber Music Lab, 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. 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).

2. 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.

3. Bring your own guitar: Students may bring their own guitars, but they MUST be classical guitars. 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. IMPORTANT: We do not recommend restringing a steel-string guitar with nylon strings. Acoustic (steel-string) guitars and classical (nylon-string) guitars are very different... different bodies, necks, fingerboards, etc. Adding nylon strings to a steel-string guitar doesn't turn it into a classical guitar.

Lead Guitar Performances

  • January – Lead Guitar Winter Informances | Dates vary by school
  • Wednesday, April 10, 2024 – Lead Guitar Showcase  |  Harris Concert Hall (Aspen) 

* Lead Guitar classes end after the Lead Guitar Showcase in April.


How to Register

Registration opens September 1 and closes October 6. Late registrations may be accepted if space is available, but will incur a $25 late registration fee to cover delayed application processing.

Check back in August 2024 for the 2024-2025 school year!

To learn more, please contact:

Veronica Lopez, Education and Community Coordinator
Email | 970 205 5059


Support for AMFS Education and Community Programs comes from Nancy Swift Furlotti and the Pettit Foundation, Dana and Gene Powell, Alpine Bank, Nancy Meinig - Meinig Family Foundation, the Fisher Family Fund at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Edith Kallas and Joe Whatley, Golub Family Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, and Hensley and James Peterson.  

Special support for Lead Guitar by Nicholas Ferrara.