The focus of this article is for those of you who are looking for help in choosing schools to further your guitar education. Teaching is one of the biggest joys for me in my career as guitarist. I teach private lessons and do Master Classes and clinics at music stores and in some of the world’s finest music colleges/schools. In this article, I will highlight only schools I am personally familiar with by offering Master Classes on location.

Below I will consider each style of music and suggest some excellent schools to explore for your further education. If you love guitar and you’re looking to expand your level of knowledge, every one of the schools I will talk about in this article is incredible. There are many awesome schools out there.

If your focus is rock music, here are some schools to check out, as they teach rock music and more. In my experience, three excellent choices include GIT at MI (The Guitar Institute of Technology - the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, CA), AIM (The Atlanta Institute of Music), and Berklee School of Music in Boston. Another excellent choice in schools is LAMA (Los Angeles Music Academy). All of these schools have world-class rock guitar instructors – LAMA happens to be run by one of the world’s top rock guitarists, Frank Gambale. I know I really enjoy teaching at all of these schools.

Now, if you are a jazz player, two of the world’s greatest and most recognized programs are the Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA and North Texas University in Denton, TX. Fred Hamilton is the chair of the Jazz Guitar Studies program, and the 1 o’ Clock jazz ensemble is widely considered one of the best jazz ensembles in the U.S.

If you’ve ever been interested in covering bluegrass and commercial country music, South Plains College in Levelland, TX is incredible! This is one of the top schools for bluegrass and country guitar. Some of the world’s finest pickers have “cut their teeth” at South Plains. Many fine musicians have come from South Plain’s program, including singer/guitarist Heath Wright and Keith Gattis, who has recently been playing with Dwight Yokam. Country instrumentalist Stuart Duncan is also a notable standout of this program, and is currently one of the most in-demand session musicians in Nashville.

If you’ve ever been interested in covering bluegrass and commercial country music, South Plains College in Levelland, TX is incredible! This is one of the top schools for bluegrass and country guitar.

Country guitar and blues guitar are two styles that are taught well in many schools. Four outstanding schools for you to explore these styles would be South Plains College in Levelland, TX, GIT at MI, Utah State University and Belmont University in Nashville. Belmont does offer the country player the advantage of location, because students have the opportunity to hone their craft in Honky Tonk Boot Camp on Lower Broadway in Nashville.

If you choose Nashville and you are interested in also studying the music business, you should know that Belmont University in Nashville and Middle Tennessee State University in nearby Murfreesboro, TN offer two of the most recognized Music Business programs in the country.

I really recommend hopping online and checking out these schools and others for yourself. First, take a look at what genre of music you are interested in. Then, find the school that will best fit your needs. Remember to make sure the location is right for you. Think about the size program that fits best for you. Also, check your budget. Financial assistance is often available, but it still may not cover all of your expenses. Then it all comes down to one question: do you love guitar enough to become this serious about it? I sincerely wish all guitarists could have the chance to experience such great guitar schools!

I would like to thank everyone at all of these schools for giving me the opportunity to become a little part of their educational curriculum. I love you all very much and I hope to see you at a Master Class real soon. God bless and keep pickin’.

Johnny Hiland

Johnny Hiland
Guitar Player Extrodinare