Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Register
Community Search
Lecture - Mark Johnstone

 Reading, Improvisation, and Composition: Guitar Pedagogy from the First Lesson

Mark Johnstone


Many standard guitar methods begin with a well-known plan: an exploration of the natural notes on the first string, a similar exploration of the natural diatonic pitches on the remaining strings and a series of simple melodies and short pieces that explore this limited material. 


I propose a more engaging, less abstract, less pedantic approach that creates a broader foundation of musical understanding and its application to the guitar for the beginning student.


Within a short time the beginning student will read, write and elaborate on a simple melody or bass line, understand and write their own cadential formulas, accompany song,  compose a simple song, improvise on fundamental harmonic progressions, and even compose and play a simple canon on a number of standard formulae. 


I have developed this pedagogical method over 20 years of practical teaching and interaction with many expert colleagues in the field.




With over 30 years teaching and performing experience,Mark Johnstone has seen a career spanning his native St. Paul, Minnesota, Denton, Texas, New York City, and, for the past 15 years, Philadelphia and Princeton. He holds degrees in History and Music from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has pursued post graduate degrees from the University of North Texas and Hunter College in New York City.  A former Lute and 19th century guitar student of Pat O’Brien in New York, Mark has played continuo on baroque guitar and theorbo forI Virtuosi del Seicento andLonga Minima (Tim Urban, Director) and 19th century guitar forLe Meslange de Plaisirs (Kathleen Scheide, Director). Mark has taught guitar for the University of North Texas, The College of New Jersey, Mary Louise Curtis branch of Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, and the Peddie School. He currently maintains a studio of over 60 students and three guitar ensembles for Westminster Conservatory of Music and two class guitar courses for Rider University. As a Board Member of the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society he is committed to help maintain a thriving classical guitar community through education, concert series, and festivals in Philadelphia and Princeton. His top students are consistently among the leaders and prize winners of local competitions and in the spotlight of their community. 

   In print for nearly 20 years, Mr. Johnstone’sHoliday Gig Book (Mel Bay 2000) has been reviewed byClassical Guitar magazine as “Immensely enjoyable... The arrangements stand out above the crowd.” For 5 years, until 2019, theHoliday Gig Book was used  as part of a celebration of the holiday season byThe Guitars of Westminster (Mark Johnstone, Director) at the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion at Drumthwacket and Princeton’s Morven Museum. 

Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal