Choosing Repertoire

Choosing repertoire is hard, but a good teacher can help you pick out pieces that are suitable for you. If you’re sans teacher, you’ll have to choose your own repertoire.

Guitarists seem to have the idea that it’s better to play entire programs of very hard stuff all the time. That’s okay, if you’re Jorge Caballero or John Williams or Craig Ogden or (insert your great player of choice). The rest of us can benefit from this simple tip:

Your repertoire should include a variety of difficulty levels. Some very easy pieces, some hard stuff, and some things right in the middle.

There’s something great about playing simple music that’s hard to ignore. The easy stuff can be used to show off your musicality; the hard stuff will push your technique along. When in doubt, favor putting more easy pieces into your repertoire.

Posted on in Classical Guitar Repertoire


  • Jeffrey Bianchi

    I usually find it a good to throw in some concert etudes (Villa-Lobos, etc.). It kills two birds with one stone… Gives you some good pieces to play live as well as giving you pieces to keep help with technique.

  • Midas

    Hello Chris!

    Choosing repertoire is always an interesting part of being a guitarist, since should combine stylistic, technical, emotional and other aspects (if it is done correctly).

    By the way, since I think you sometimes like modern works, here’s one of the great 2oth century masterpieces of the guitar “Due Canzoni Lidie”
    (interpreted by the composer himself!)

    • Christopher Davis

      I don’t like the percussion study. I get very tired of pieces composed entirely of noises/special effects. Due Conzoni Lidie is quite good, very interesting use of harmonics. Interesting sense of tonality, and a cool ostinato (reminds me Brouwer’s Preludios Epigramaticos).

  • Midas

    I wish there was a video where one could see Kampela perform though… 🙂
    It sounds incredible – he seems to be using all kinds of techniques; and blends them in a compositionally coherent and interesting way.
    What do you think?

    • Christopher Davis

      I think I’d have to look a the score to be a better judge. You can hear the relationship between the various parts, though. I understand he’s working more with sounds rather than pitches, but that sort of music isn’t my thing. I’d rather have a very crazy melody than a bunch of just sounds and colors.

  • Midway

    If anyone is interested in listening to Kampela giving the premiere of his Percussion Study IV:
    (the notes accompanying the video are interesting to read. Kampela is at the very front of creative musical avant guarde. Make no mistake: this is a master performer!)

  • Sonia Michelson

    Hello Chris,

    An interesting repertoire list.

    I would also add Charles Duncan’s ” A Modern Approach to Classical Guitar” and his “Finger Style Pop Clsssics.

    Mel Bay Presnets “Young Beginner’s First Repertoire for Classic Guitar” by Sonia Michelson

    and for sight reading: Robert Benedict’s ” Sight Reading for the Classical Guitar”