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Music 120 - 02

Basic Music I–Guitar

Spring Semester 2019

MW 11:00-11:50p, CA 153



Instructor: Jono Kornfeld

Office: CA 166F

Office Hours: M, W, F, 9-10a; and by appointment

Phone: 415-338-6013, email


Graduate Assistant: Angelica Wilson










you can also get a clip-on tuner for around $10



Required Text 1

Required Materials

Guitar Note Speller, Aaron Shearer

Alfred Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7692-8276-3


MUS 120 Reader, Kornfeld (free download)

Bring this to every class

Classical or Steel String Guitar

Plastic guitar pick

Pencil with eraser

Tuner or tuning app

Staff Paper

It is recommended that you have an extra set of strings for your guitar in case one (or more) breaks – extra picks are also recommended.

Course Description and Objectives

Basic Music is an introduction to the theory rudiments, and basic performance practices of music. This course is designed for students with no

prior musical training or formal background. Basic Music, which is a hybrid class (combines online learning & live class meetings), is designed

as a one-semester course into two components:


1. Lecture class (all content delivered online) – 33.33% of your final grade

2. Performance lab class – THIS CLASS (meets twice per week) – 66.66% of your final grade

Both components must be completed to pass Basic Music successfully.


This performance lab class is an introduction to the joy of guitar playing (and music in general) as it relates to a variety of styles including blues & rock/pop, folk, jazz, and classical. Students are expected to learn to read music using standard western notation, chord charts, and rote & by-ear learning. Class activities will include short lectures/discussions, performance exercises, occasional written quizzes, practicing, a review/performance of assigned material, and the assignment/demonstration of new material. Assignments will follow a progressive level of difficulty as the semester unfolds.


Grading:  All grades will be given as a percentage.  Only your final grade will be a letter grade.

Each assignment and exam will have its own grade. You can also look up your grades to date through the above links—grades are listed via an alias to protect your privacy.


Quizzes: 10%

There will be four brief written quizzes, announced in advance. They will be based on previously covered material. The content of each quiz will be explained ahead of time.


Guitar Note Speller: 15%

Approximately four pages will be assigned every other week. This is a workbook designed to help you learn notation and reading. You may submit your written work in one of two ways:

1. Give me your book, which will be returned by the next class meeting.

2. Give me a photocopy of the work (you may photocopy your pages and then do the work on them). Staple them.


All Homework: is due in class on the day announced unless otherwise specified/arranged.


Attendance: 20%

Students are expected to be present at each class. Regular attendance is essential for a successful completion of this course. Much of the class time will be spent using your guitar to realize musical concepts and develop technique, therefore any missed classes will be time lost. Attendance will be taken right when class begins; every three late-arrivals will count as one unexcused absence. Absences/lateness may be excused for extenuating circumstances. Such circumstances must be documented when possible (i.e. a doctor's note, etc.) and I must be notified as soon as possible.

Performances: 25%

We will have three performance evaluations during the semester - one at the quarter, midterm, tri-quarter. This will give students the chance to play for, learn from, and listen to each other, as well as help one and other become accustomed to performing for others.
Each student will play one (or two) pieces/songs, and chords/scales. The performances will most likely be solo, but may include a duet as well. Pieces will be assigned through the syllabus. All playing assignments will be evaluated according to three categories:


Accuracy: includes correctness of notes, rhythms, repeats, and chord constructions.

Technique: includes hand position, fingering, and fluency in transitions.

Musicianship: includes dynamics, slurs and all other markings, as well as expression.


Class Participation/Communication: 30%

Students are expected to attend all classes and participate.  Participation means arriving on time, being fully present and engaged, and not behaving in a distracted or distracting manner.  Use of cell phones and/or electronic devices for non-emergency, or non-class-related purposes will be considered disruptive, and will count against your participation credit—they should be put away during class. Students should practice professional-level communication in class, and in written correspondence. Part of each class meeting will be devoted to group exercises and/or self-study/practice. You are expected to participate and be engaged in all activities, and keep up with the progressively more difficult material. You will be evaluated on a spot-check bases.



**Please note: the above percentages are subject to redistribution**


Missed assignments, quizzes or exams: in the event of an unforeseen absence, make-up exams/quizzes or assignment-extensions may be granted for extenuating circumstances, and only on a case-by-case basis.  Such circumstances must be documented when possible (i.e. a doctor's note, etc.) and I must be notified as soon as possible. Communication is essential.


Extra credit assignments (optional): may be assigned and will be announced in class.


Plagiarism: While some collaboration is expected and productive, the bulk of your assignments must be done individually unless otherwise specified. Violations will be subject to the University's Code of Conduct as it relates to such matters.


Please note the following from the SFSU Bulletin: To receive credit toward completion of the degree requirements, a grade of C or better is required for all music courses in the Bachelor of Arts in Music major...To receive credit toward completion of the degree requirements, a grade of C or better is required for all music courses in the Bachelor of Music major.


Disability access

Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor.  The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/415-338-2472, video phone/415-335-7210) or by email (


Student disclosures of sexual violence

SF State fosters a campus free of sexual violence including sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and/or any form of sex or gender discrimination.  If you disclose a personal experience as an SF State student, the course instructor is required to notify the Title IX Coordinator by completing the report form available at, emailing or calling 338-2032.


To disclose any such violence confidentially, contact:

*The SAFE Place - (415) 338-2208;

*Counseling and Psychological Services Center - (415) 338-2208;

*For more information on your rights and available resources:

Attendance and Classroom Guidelines

It is your responsibility to get notes from any class you miss.  Do not send emails or request appointments regarding material covered during an unexcused absence.  Disruptive or distracting behavior will not be tolerated and may result in you being asked to leave or have an assigned seat.  Such behavior includes: inappropriate talking with classmates, improper use of cell phones or other electronic devices, repeatedly arriving late, and/or engaging in distracting behavior.  BRING YOUR TEXT(S) AND/OR RELEVANT MUSIC SCORE(S) TO CLASS.


There may be instances where we need to make individual, special arrangements.  In these cases, it is best that we do so in person.  However, it will also be necessary to follow up such face-to-face communications with confirmation emails.  In the event that we have made a special arrangement, please make sure we have at least done so in writing.  If you write to me, please communicate as clearly as possible.  While this is a music class, you are expected to practice college-level, professional communication standards in your written and oral communication. Make sure your SFSU email is set up to forward to your regular/personal email.

Revisions to this Syllabus

The syllabus (including assignments, exam and grade distributions) and downloads are subject to revisions as the semester progresses.  Check the syllabus web page often and listen for announcements in class.  Do not download the lecture notes and/or assignments all at once in case revisions are made as the semester progresses.


In an ongoing effort to nurture your notation skills, all work handed in must be written in pencil; computer-notated assignments will not be accepted. When using staff paper for any assignment, the paper should have no left- or right-side bar lines and have no clefs printed on it. Notation is a factor in grading. Notation errors, cross-outs, sloppy notation or analyses may lower assignment grades and/or will be handled on a discretionary basis.

Printing Materials for Class

The Music Office is requiring as little photocopying as possible.  You should plan to be able to print supplemental, required materials for class on a regular basis.  All materials will be available through the web syllabus and will be PDF files.

Resources for Practice

Learning any musical instrument requires regular practice. It is unlikely that you will do well in this course without practicing at least 60-90 minutes per week, to prepare repertoire assignments and quiz material. Most people benefit from shorter, more frequent practice sessions: for example, 20 minutes per day, five days a week. This course involves learning a great deal of material and implementing it on the guitar. It is sometimes possible to cram information successfully, but this cannot be done with kinesthetic skills, which need to develop over time.


Practice rooms with upright pianos are available to all Music 120 students. The practice rooms are located in the Creative Arts building, rows 166 – 172. It is extremely important to follow all signage and rules for use of the practice rooms.



(Week No.)

Week of

Assignments, relevant links, and items to read/print

for that week with specific due day ("M, W")


** Please arrive at all class meetings with your guitar tuned, a pencil and your Reader **



Jan 28

Class organization, guitar orientation (MW)

The Guitar Neck

Guitar Method Excerpt

Kornfeld Theory Text (this is a FREE! Text. Do not print this, but short readings will be assigned)



Feb 4

Read: Kornfeld pp. 1-4 (notes, the staff, keys, clefs)

Read: Guitar Method Excerpt (note values, notes on the E, B & G strings)


Feb 11

Read: Kornfeld pp. 5-8, 10-11 (accidentals, note values)

(M) Review: 1st String Etudes (audio)

(W) Hand in: Note Speller, pp. 4-8


Feb 18

Read: Kornfeld pp. 12-16 (stems, time signatures)

(W) Quiz 1: clef writing, note writing and identification, time signatures (4/4 & 3/4), fretting

Review/Print: Standard chord voicings


Feb 25

(MW) Performance Evaluations

   Play this G scale:  score   audio

   Choose one song: The Merry Men (score), Mary Had a Little Lamb (score), Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (score)

(W) Hand in: Note Speller, pp. 9-12


March 4

Read: Kornfeld pp. 17-22 (putting note values into practice, ties, slurs)

(M) Review: Aura Lee (score); When the Saints Go Marching In (score); C and G major scales (score)


March 11

(W) Hand in: Note Speller, pp. 13-16


March 18

(M) Review (optional): C major scale in 3rds  (score)

(M) Review: Red River Valley (score); G major scale in two octaves (based on class discussion)

(W) Quiz 2: clef writing, note writing and identification (all six strings), 3/4 time signatures


March 25 - 29: Spring Recess, No Class



April 1

No Class, Cesar Chavez Day (M)

Read: Kornfeld pp. 23-28 (other time signatures, triplets, syncopation, tempo, dynamics)

(W) Hand in: Note Speller, pp. 17-20

(W) Review: A minor scales (audio); E minor scales (audio); A-Minor Etude (audio)


April 8

(MW) Performance Evaluations

   Play: the C major scale (and chord) and the G major scale (starting on the 6th string) (and chord); extra credit: also the G

   major scale in two octaves


   Choose one song: Aura Lee, When the Saints Go Marching In, or Red River Valley


April 15

(M) Review: Minor Scale Melodies (audio); Imperial Strut

(W) Hand in: Note Speller, pp. 21-24


April 22

(W) Review: E, A & B 7th chords; E minor & G major pentatonic scales

(W) Quiz 3: notation of minor scales, chord notation, rhythm dictation


April 29

Review: Basic Blues Pattern  (audio); D Dorian Scale  (audio); Scarborough Fair  (audio); Amazing Grace  (audio)

(W) Hand in: Note Speller, pp. 25-28


May 6

(MW) Performance Evaluations

     Play: Natural and Harmonic modes of both E minor, and A minor scales (i.e. 4 possible scales) –

              finish with either an E min, or A min chord

     Play: G major, C major and D major chords

     Choose one song: A-Minor Etude (audio), or one song from Minor Scale Melodies (audio)


May 13

(M) Review: E Blues Scale & Blues Riffs

(W) Hand in: Note Speller, pp. 29-32

(W) Quiz 4: notation of E minor & G major pentatonic scales; D Dorian Scale; E, A & B 7th chord notation

Last day of class (W)


May 20

(M, 10:30 – 12:45)

Optional Extra Credit Performance Evaluations  - we will meet as a group, but performances will be one on one

      Play Scales: E minor and G major pentatonic scales, two octaves, ascending and descending – Finish with either an

                       E min, or G maj chord **PICK ONE SCALE/CHORD**, and/or

                       the D Dorian Scale – Finish with a D min chord, and

     Play one song: Scarborough Fair  (audio) or Ode to Joy



Jolly Good Fellow

Yankee Doodle

Ode to Joy

Ode to Joy Duet

Aura Lee Duet

Au Claire de la Lune Duet