Fingerstyle Guitar: History and Performance Workshop

uwm fingerstyle guitar

September 5 – December 12, 2019

Location: Kenilworth Square East 520
Time: Thursdays, 5:30–8:10pm
Questions: John Stropes, 994-8710

The UWM Guitar Program will offer a survey course in finger-style guitar that draws on an unparalleled media archive and features lectures and multimedia presentations on the following topics: the development of finger-style guitar beginning with the renaissance guitar, vihuela, baroque guitar, and the first appearance of the six-string guitar in Europe in the 1770s; the divergence of classical and finger-style guitar in the 1920s; the development of the instrument and its written notation; the use of alternate tunings on the guitar; country blues; Delta blues; Hawaiian slack-key; folk music in America and the folk/blues revival of the 1960s; early country guitar; Merle Travis; Chet Atkins; the British Isles revivalists; and special presentations on modern icons of finger-style guitar John Fahey, Leo Kottke, and Michael Hedges. These presentations will include rare historical footage and contemporary video of performances and interviews.

Students will learn intermediate finger-style guitar technique and repertoire by such guitarist/composers as Leo Kottke, Billy McLaughlin, Michael Hedges, Mississippi John Hurt, Big Bill Broonzy, Taj Mahal, John Fahey, Sonny Chillingworth, and Preston Reed. Archival video and specifically designed pedagogical materials will enable students to study these pieces in depth. We welcome anyone interested in finger-style guitar to sign up for this class, and have designed the performance requirements of the class to be able to accommodate students at a variety of levels.

Finger-Style Guitar at The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

As the only college-level program in finger-style guitar in the world, we have the opportunity to explore the history and pedagogy of finger-style guitar, push forward standards of scholarship, experiment with new approaches, and bring new technologies to bear on this quest. Our new laboratory for the digital conversion and analysis of historic and contemporary media is a center for groundbreaking research. To view live performances of current and former UWM finger-style guitar students, visit our YouTube channel. To check out the latest program news and events, find us on our Facebook page.


  • If you are a UWM student and would like to take this course for credit, register via PAWS for MUSIC 478-005 (26751) or MUSIC 6806-005 (26752).
  • You may enroll in this class as a noncredit workshop through the Peck School of the Arts Box Office (cost: $300).
  • Those 60 and over may audit the class for free (additional fee at $21.80/credit applies). For information on admission & registration, contact the Admissions Office at (414) 229-4672.