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Course Materials

What You Should Already Know

Although you’ve probably had some experience in music before, this course makes no assumptions about what you may already know. Introductory units teach you to read music and prepare you for playing the guitar as though you are a beginner. If you’ve taken lessons on any instrument prior to this course, the first units will be a helpful review.

Learning Objectives

When you have completed this course, you should be able to do the following:

  1. Perform notes by reading traditional music notation.
  2. Perform chords and sing by following lead sheets for popular songs.
  3. Interpret guitar tablature.
  4. Perform strumming and fingerpicking patterns with rhythmic fluency.
  5. Write original songs with lyrics, melody, and chords.

Course Materials

This course focuses on teaching you how to play songs and includes several examples for your improvement, but it doesn’t contain a collection of songs. For that, you’ll want to go to a music store and choose a book of songs you’ll enjoy performing.

Other Materials

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Because this course is concerned with your skills as a guitarist, not just whether or not you understand concepts intellectually, you should plan to spend frequent and consistent time mastering the exercises and songs in each unit. Occasional marathons of study won’t help nearly as much as short but regular practice sessions. By practicing a half an hour a day, about five days each week, the motivated student should plan on spending two to four weeks mastering each unit.

This course is organized into nine units, and each unit contains three or four main lessons. As you work through each lesson, you can measure your understanding of new concepts by completing the Self Check questions found throughout the unit. Be aware, though, that just because you understand a concept intellectually doesn’t mean your hands have mastered the technique yet—many of the lessons involve coordination, finger strength, and dexterity, for which there are no short cuts or fast lanes. Achieve a proficiency in each unit before advancing. And to truly master your instrument, review previous units as part of your daily practice routine.

Unit Quizzes

Most units end in a quiz, which measures how well you’ve learned concepts.

Recorded Assignments

Most units require you to submit a video recording of specific performance skills, like strumming or changing chords. The Recorded Assignment page in each unit contains submission instructions; your recordings will need to be recorded using one of a few standard video formats including:

I will carefully watch and listen to those recordings, evaluate your progress, and send you specific feedback and suggestions for improvement.

An incomplete recording may result in a failing grade, and a fee will be required to resubmit your portfolio.

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Your careful preparation in unit Quizzes will prepare you for the course’s final exam, which measures your understanding of the concepts taught throughout the course. The final exam accounts for 25% of your course grade.

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Your course grade is comprised of the following:

Unit Assignment Percentage
1 Quiz 5
1 Recording 4
2 Quiz 5
3 Quiz 5
3 Recording 8
4 Recording 8
5 Quiz 5
5 Recording 4
6 Quiz 5
6 Recording 10
7 Recording 6
8 Quiz 5
9 Quiz 5
Final Exam   25
Total   100
Grading Scale
A 100-94
A− 93-90
B+ 89-87
B 86-83
B− 82-80
C+ 79-77
C 76-74
C− 73-70
D+ 69-67
D 66-64
D− 63-60
E (fail) 59 or below

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


Summary: 7 computer-graded assignments and 6 instructor-graded assignments, may be resubmitted once for a fee

A NOTE ABOUT PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism is a form of cheating. It is taking the work of someone else and claiming it as your own. To simply copy and paste ideas, words, or stories from the internet is stealing. This will NOT be tolerated at BYU Independent Study. If you plagiarize, you will receive an incomplete on the portfolio and must pay a fee to resubmit your own work. If you plagiarize twice, you will automatically fail the course.

Final Exam

Summary: 1 proctored, computer-graded exam, may retake once for a fee, must pass to earn credit for the course

You must pass the final exam with a score of sixty percent or higher in order to pass this course. If you fail the final exam, you may retake the exam once for a fee. If you need to retake an exam, contact the Independent Study office. 

Course Duration

You have 1 year to complete this course. You may purchase one 3-month extension if you need more than a year to complete this course.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor.

University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.