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Competition Advice from Amy K

Competition Advice from Amy K

One of few females on the competition circuit shows us the ropes

What competitions have you been involved in?
The 1993 Maricpopa Community College District Outstanding Performers Competition - First Place in the Solo Instrumental Category (classical guitar) and Third Place in the Ensemble Category; 1996 Portland State University International Classical Guitar Competition – one of 16 semi-finalists; and 2003 Guitar Center''s Guitarmageddon Competition – First Place in Arizona.

How long have you been playing?

15 years

Who are some of your biggest influences?
John Petrucci, Andrew York, Bill Kanengiser, and Moments in Grace.

Describe your favorite rig.
A Fender Cyber Twin with my Ibanez RG and my Crate Limo with my Fender Grand Nylon!

What sets you apart from other players?

My playing has a unique balance of classical mastery and heavy shreddin'' - plus, I''m a girl! When I perform I am “in the zone” and listeners can immediately feel what I feel. I also have a BM in Classical Guitar Performance. In 2000 I was featured in a special edition Fender catalog modeling the New Amercian Strat, and again in Fender Frontline 2004 endorsing the Grand Nylon.

Any interesting stories from guitar competitions?
Two major moments come to mind... First, being on stage at the House of Blues in New Orleans for the regionals of the 2003 Guitar Center Guitarmageddon Competition (Fender provided me with a rockin'' red Charvel for the performance) was an amazing moment I will never forget! I was fully present, and enjoyed every moment of the performance. It also felt great to beat out all the boys in Arizona for this top spot! Being backed by Fender gave me an incredible feeling of support as well.

The second moment was in 1996 when I was chosen as one of 16 semi-finalists in the Portland International Classical Guitar Competition and one of my competitors was my ASU classical guitar teacher at the time! How cool to be competing against your instructor?

Give PG readers three tips for playing in guitar competitions.
1) Be in the moment. Focus on enjoying the performance itself and don''t let yourself get distracted by other competitors or what the results of the competition will be. Just be with the music and the rest will fall into place.  

2) Prepare in advance by performing the competition piece for any captive person you can find - as often as possible. This will help you to know what it will feel like the day of the big performance.  

3) Wear a great outfit – you''ll feel more confident!

What’s a big no-no at a guitar competition that you would advise against?
Don''t copy your favorite artist. It''s great to learn from the best but make sure you find your own voice and style on the instrument, and on stage. There is a big difference between influence and imitation.

What’s next on your horizon?
Starting February 2008, I will be releasing one new song per month (some rock, some classical) on my website. I will also be launching a brand new website with videos, lessons and other fun stuff in January. I also do private lessons through the Amy K Music Company in Phoenix, AZ and will be holding weekly clinics at the Phoenix Guitar Center starting in February.

How can PG readers find out more about you?
You can purchase current songs now at, or my full length CD Reflections at For lessons in Pheonix, you can call Amy K Music Company at (602) 703-3002.