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GFA Certified Programs

These programs represent the best in guitar education in the United States.  Find out more below and apply today to have your pre-college guitar program GFA Certified.










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Founded in 1959, Bishop McGuinness is now the largest non-public high school in the Triad in North Carolina. Students enjoy an outstanding high school experience with exceptional academics, extracurricular activities and athletic opportunities. The school’s safe, caring and positive environment makes it the perfect place for students to learn and grow. Bishop is a college prep, co-educational Catholic high school operating under the direction of the Diocese of Charlotte. We embrace the diversity of our student body and invite students of all faiths, ethnic and social and economic backgrounds to attend our school. We strive for a level of diversity in its population which prepares students in a values-centered environment which speaks to the best in Catholic education.

DIRECTOR: Alan Hirsh


Well known as composer/arranger/guitarist/and music educator, Alan Hirsh currently resides in North Carolina where he serves as Music Director and Fine Arts Department Chair at Bishop McGuinness High School as well as adjunct guitar instructor at Wake Forest University.  Alan is also the founder and director of the Piedmont Guitar Orchestra and actively directs festival guitar orchestras around the country, including the Appalachian Guitarfest Orchestra, the Greensboro Guitarganza Orchestra, the Long Island Guitar Festival Orchestra, and the Shearer Summer Institute Guitar Orchestra in Zion National Park.  Alan serves as Vice president of the Piedmont Classic Guitar Society and Vice President of Education in the Aaron Shearer Foundation. He remains active as a composer, having written and arranged extensively for orchestra, band, chorus, guitar and guitar ensemble.   Alan’s many published works include Mel Bay publications of Twenty Etudes in fixed Positions  and New Music for Classic Guitar, Trio Concertino, Holiday, Folk, Sacred, and Renaissance Collections for guitar ensemble.




Coronado High School is a public school located in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas.  Several styles and genres are explored throughout the curriculum from strumming popular music and improvising jazz to strict classical repertoire. At the completion of the program, students have a well-rounded repertoire with a solid classical foundation.  Beyond the development of their technical abilities, the curriculum enhances the student’s concept of musicianship through performance, critical listening, and attendance to professional performance events.  The program ensembles perform seasonal concerts on campus and travel to many local festivals and events. They perform annually at the Loyola Marymount University Guitar Festival in Los Angeles.  Although the program serves over 150 enrolled students, each student is provided performing opportunities on top of their extensive ensemble performance schedule.  The Coronado Guitar Program has received recognition both locally and nationally.  Five students were selected for the inaugural NAfME National Honor Guitar Ensemble in 2018.  The CHS Advanced Guitar Ensemble won 1st Place in the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) National Competition in the K-12 Large Ensemble category in 2016.  And, Coronado proudly hosted a Guitar Foundation of America Symposium in 2015. 


DIRECTOR: Matthew Nishimoto, PhD


Matthew Nishimoto has taught the guitar classes and been the director for the guitar ensembles at Coronado High School in Henderson, Nevada since 2003. Dr. Nishimoto earned a B.A. in Music Education from UNLV, where he also received a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and a Ph.D. in Teacher Education.  His research into the issues of new teachers led him to the topic of the role of expertise in instruction—the target of inquiry of an ongoing overarching study regarding the expert blind spot effect and guitar pedagogy.  He also publishes and lectures on the topics of teacher socialization and educational leadership roles.  Dr. Nishimoto was appointed the Education Coordinator for the GFA in 2018. In this role he coordinates GFA’s education initiatives and works with parallel music education organizations to further the cause of guitar education.


The Freedom HS Guitar students and ensembles have consistently performed in music events and concerts on local, state, national and international stages including the Florida Music Education Association All-State Conference, the Florida Guitar Festival, Stetson University Day of Guitar, and the Long Island Guitar Festival (NY), to name a few. Performing with artists including Dr. Stephen Robinson, William Kanengiser, Dr. Robert Phillips, Christopher Gotzen-Berg, Harris Becker, Bobby Koelble, Dr. Ulisses Rocha and Dr. Eva Beneke, the FHS Guitar Program are recognized as a member of the international guitar community.

DIRECTOR: Christopher Perez

Christopher Perez, Director of Guitar Studies, holds a BA degree from Western Illinois University and is a 2017 GRAMMY Foundation Award “Teacher of the Year” Quarter-Finalist. He is a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), serving on the Guitar Council as Southern Division Representative; the Florida Music Educators Association (FMEA) serving on the Secondary General Music Committee; the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Mr. Perez continually presents professional development guitar sessions at local, state and national music conferences, of which several are published online as webinars and blogs. He served for eight years, from 2009 to 2017, as the Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Guitar Chair. For the OCPS All-County Guitar Festival he twice served as the 2012 High School Guitar Ensemble Clinician and the 2018 Middle School Guitar Ensemble Clinician.


Green Valley High School has, since its inception in 1991, always had a strong commitment to the performing arts. As such, the guitar program was established in 2010 with just two sections of a Beginning Guitar class. The program continued to grow and gain popularity over the next several years and eventually added intermediate and advanced classes as well. Since then, the program has developed much further and become much more competitive with students receiving various awards each year for their playing as a class, as individuals, and as small ensembles both locally and out of state.

Director: Michael Klein

Michael Klein holds a B.M. in music education from the State University of New York at Fredonia and an M.M. in guitar performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music where he also earned a performer’s certificate. In addition to his teaching he is an active performer with the Las Vegas Classical Guitar Ensemble. 





The Lois Cowles Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts offers an enriched arts education for students with a demonstrated talent in the arts. The program develops both the academic and artistic skills of students interested in artistic careers as well as an appreciation of the arts for those who may choose other fields. 

Harrison was created in 1989 and serves students throughout Polk County, Florida. Harrison School for the Arts and Lakeland High School conduct classes on a seven-period day. Students are able to earn 28 credits in four years. Harrison students must earn a minimum of 10 credits in arts-specific classes, including three arts-specific credits during their junior and senior years, to graduate from Harrison School for the Arts.


DIRECTOR: Robert Phillips


Robert Phillips holds a doctorate in music from the University of Miami, and is a former student of Rey de la Torre, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, and David Starobin A recipient of a Japan Fulbright, Dr. Phillips is active as a scholar, and educator, as well as a performer. Phillips has embraced a wide range of repertory preferences; he performs the standard solo classical guitar repertoire and plays in a Brazilian jazz ensemble. He performs his own compositions, and has premiered works by three-time Pulitzer nominee, Frank Brazinski, Eric Ross, Alfred Giusto, and Meyer Kupferman, as well as the premier performance of “Goyescana”, a concerto written for him by three-time Grammy winner, Michael Colina. He most recently has commissioned a set of 6 dances for guitar by Jorge Morel, Troy Gifford, Rex Willis, Howard Buss, Charles Griffin, and Benoit Glazer. Robert has contributed a number of articles to “Soundboard”, and to "American String Teacher", the journal of the American String Teachers' Association. He spent three years as the classical guitar columnist for “Guitar for the Practicing Musician”, and its sister publication, “Guitar Extra” before becoming a contributing writer for “Guitar Player”. Many of his transcriptions and editions of works for classical guitar have been published in these magazines and by Cherry Lane Music Co., Inc. His anthology, “Great Themes and Variations for Classic Guitar” was published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc., which also released his 2 CD recording of the same title. His newest recording, “Lo Mestre: The Music of Miguel Llobet” is on Centaur records. Dr. Phillips teaches classical guitar, and music theory at the Lois Cowles Harrison School for the Visual and Performing Arts, and is an adjunct professor of applied music (classical guitar) at Southeastern University.





Established in 1992 by a task force of district, university and community representatives, the Las Vegas Academy is a public magnet high school which brings together culturally diverse students from all over Clark County. Las Vegas and the surrounding area is a community of over 2 million people and is the 5th largest school district in the country. Founded on August 22, 1993, the school houses about 1700 students who enjoy this nationally recognized school. Located in the center of the Las Vegas Historical District, an urban shopping district, the Academy offers students in grades 9 through 12 the opportunity to pursue a major in dance, vocal and instrumental music, jazz, liberal arts, piano, theatre or theatre technology, and visual arts. In addition, students take all of their academic classes at the Academy. The Academy offers students an intellectually challenging learning experience and empowers them with the skills and knowledge to compete successfully in the international workplace. Since opening, the school has placed at the top of the Clark County School District's high schools with standardized test scores maintained at the 75th or better percentiles. The Academy, under the district’s new star ranking has been awarded a 5-Star School rating the past two years placing it at the top of the district’s list of performing schools. 


DIRECTOR: Bill Swick

Bill Swick currently teaches guitar and chairs the music department for the twelve-time GRAMMY award winning Las Vegas Academy of the Arts (a magnet high school) and is the guitar task force chair for Clark County School District, the nation’s fifth largest school district. Swick holds two degrees from the University of North Texas and has served as faculty of Drake University and University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Swick is a publisher of guitar education materials ( and the creator of the Swickster Fingerboard System ( Swick is currently the chair for the NAfME Council for Guitar Education. Swick was recently identified as a Top Ten Music Educator by the GRAMMY Foundation.






The mission of the McCallum Fine Arts Academy (Austin, TX) is to foster and advance a diverse group of student artists who will create, lead, inspire, and contribute to a global community. The Five Pillars of McCallum Fine Arts Academy are: 1. Focuses on the individual development of each student. 2. Provides high quality instruction. 3. Integrates collaborative, intentional, reciprocal relationships with the broader Austin arts community into our programs/classrooms/instruction. 4. Encourages an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum and instruction, and. 5. Graduates students who can produce a pre-professional level of product in their chosen art form. The McCallum Classical Guitar program features four levels of classical guitar ensemble instruction that boasts ample opportunities to perform in large ensemble, quartet/trio/duo, as well as solo classical guitar settings. 
DIRECTOR: Andrew Clark
Andrew Clark moved to Austin from Canada to join the Fine Arts Academy music faculty. Mr. Clark began musical studies at the age of 5 and guitar at the age of 13. A Royal Conservatory of Music Silver Medallist, he attended The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, graduating in 2003 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Guitar Performance. That same year, he was selected for a full 2 year scholarship to continue his guitar studies at L’Escuela Nacional de la Musica in Havana, Cuba. Mr. Clark has attended and performed in classical guitar symposiums such as Le Domaine Forget in Quebec, the Iserlohn Guitar Festival in Germany, and the Mediterranean Guitar Festival in Italy. An avid pedagogue as well as performer, Andrew Clark attended Columbus State University in Georgia, where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Music Education with a concentration in guitar pedagogy.






Always keeping God and family as our priority, Notre Dame Preparatory (Arizona), a diocesan Catholic high school, engages in the formation of students by integrating faith in a college preparatory curriculum, promoting academic excellence, moral values and lifelong service. Mutual cooperation and respect among our faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni and surrounding community is critical to Notre Dame Preparatory’s continued success as a premier Catholic college preparatory school. Faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni and community members work together to achieve common goals and objectives that promote the best interests of the school and our community.

DIRECTOR: Philip Hemmo, Bob Powers

Philip Hemmo is known throughout the Unites States as a teacher and performer of the classical guitar. As a faculty member at the University of Arizona, Pima Communtiy College, the University of Illinois, Springfield, and his new post at Notre Dame Preparatory High School in Scottsdale, AZ, he continues to foster the next generation of classical guitarist. His academic training includes degrees from the University of Arizona (B.M.) and Illinois State University (M.M.), as well as study at the Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv. He has been featured in concert throughout the US and Mexico as a soloist as well as working with symphonies and chamber ensembles. He has performed such large ensemble works as Ramancero Gitano by Castanuavo-Tedesco, Concerto in D Major by Antonio Vivaldi, Fantasia para un Gentilhombre by Joaquin Rodrigo, as well as numerous small ensemble work. Mr. Hemmo’s students include international competition winners, performing artists, and current University Instructors. Mr. Hemmo is the author of the guitar method text ‘Beginning Classroom Guitar’ (Thompson Learning 1998 & 2004) which is the textbook of choice for guitar courses across the United States. His recordings ‘Guitar Recital’ (2013), ‘The 20th Century Guitar’ (2012) as well as ‘Romantic Works for Classical Guitar’ (2010) have been released on the Project Aurora Recordings label to national acclaim.



Originally from Catskill, NY, Bob Powers (guitarist/trumpeter) has worked extensively in the rock, funk and jazz idioms. Robert holds a Jazz Performance Degree from Arizona State University (Magna Cum Laude), where he received the Bob Ravenscroft Jazz Bird Scholarship. He studied under great artist such as Mike Crotty, Mike Kocour, David Hickman, Ryan Lehr and Chris Champion. While studying at Arizona State Robert had the great pleasure to perform with artist and composers such as Gunther Schuller, Scott Wendholt, Jerry Bergonzi, Chris Vadala, Sheamus Blake, John Stowell and David Friesen to name a few. Over the years Robert has worked on many great projects as well as musicians such as Chris Vadala, Mike Kocour, Mike Vax, John Lewis, Chris Champion, Mike Crotty, Tom Miles, Fred and Ike Sturm, Tony Vacca, The Show Chicago, DreamWorks, Desert House Productions, Proper Villain Entertainment, World Famous Rani G, Glendale Jazz Festival, Chandler Jazz Festival, Lake George Jazz Festival,Prescott Jazz Festival, Tempe Festival for the Arts, The New School for the Arts. Robert has also opened up for Blues Traveler and working with his own band -The Energy Trio -a funk, rock, jazz, experimental B3 organ trio joined by great musicians Shea Marshall (B3) and Erik Teichmann (Drums). As well as working as a freelance trumpeter/guitarist/bandleader and composer, Robert has instructed as music faculty for the Metropolitan Arts Institute, Jazz faculty for Phoenix College and the Desert Ridge Music Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. Currently Mr. Powers is The fine Arts Department Chair for Notre Dame preparatory High School in Scottsdale Arizona were he Instructs Class Guitar, Jazz Ensemble and Brass Ensemble.




Program Director: Dr. Tim Crist

A-State Guitar Outreach serves children in public school and homeschooling programs. We have partnered with public schools in our region encouraging them to adopt guitar programs to fill the needs of their students. With child poverty rates shockingly high in our region, in-school guitar classes are the only opportunity for most of our community kids. When a school adopts guitar classes we offer support in the form of curriculum design, instruction, instrument and accessory purchases, interactive guest artist residencies, and performance opportunities.

We also offer twice-weekly homeschooling and community classes tat are held on the Arkansas State University campus and include applied group classes in guitar, ukulele, bass guitar, as well as a musicianship class that concerns itself with music theory, history, aural skills, composition, and other more general musical issues. Since many of our underserved local and regional schools do not offer in-school training on guitar, these classes provide formal musical training for students who would otherwise not receive it.

In recognizing the extreme child poverty rate that our region suffers (some schools suffer a 70-100% child poverty rate) we offer all of our classes free of charge. The operating budget for our program is supported by regular fundraising events and donations.  Information about the A-State Music Outreach program may be found at the following link.



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