Select Page

students playing guitars and singing onstage


Welcome to one of the most diverse guitar programs in the United States. EKU has much to offer the aspiring guitarist. The curriculum focuses on classical and contemporary styles, solo and ensemble performance, guitar history, and guitar pedagogy. Students enjoy numerous performance and recording opportunities, including guitar ensembles, jazz ensemble and combos, early music chamber groups, musicals, and solo studio and divisional recitals. Select students gain valuable teaching experience as paid instructors for the Richmond Arts and Cultural Council.

Internationally recognized artists such as Anton Baranov, Marcin Dylla, William Kanengiser, Carlos Perez, the San Francisco Guitar Quartet, Mark Kroos, and Scott Henderson visit the campus each year and present concerts and masterclasses. The EKU Guitar Ensemble regularly performs at festivals where they have shared the stage with virtuosi such as William Kanengiser, Carlos Perez, and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. In fall 2017, the Guitar Ensemble performed live on the Red Barn Radio Show and that performance aired nationally on NPR in February 2018.

Each year, select music students attend NAMM and students pursuing degree options in Music Business or Recording Arts also have the opportunity to earn internships with companies such as Sony, Gibson, and Yamaha. EKU guitar graduates in Music Performance regularly earn assistantships at top tier graduate schools and over ninety percent of our Music Education majors are offered jobs upon graduation.

The EKU Guitar Program is very forward thinking and embraces contemporary styles of guitar along side established traditional styles and genres that, without doubt, define and formulate the instrument’s fundamental core and most essential techniques. Guitar currently permeates every conceivable musical landscape, including radio, television, cinema, Broadway, advertising, and the internet. Fortunately, every genre requires the same important technical fundamentals and musicianship you will learn while studying at EKU!

Music Library

The Music Library at EKU features many guitar-related items. Students can peruse centuries of guitar music, technical treatises, periodicals, DVDs, CDs, and historical writings.

Private Lessons

Private lessons focus on interpretation, technique, sight-reading, fretboard visualization, improvisation, the history of the guitar, and culminate in historically informed and musically expressive performances.

Why Major in Guitar at EKU?

Most people are concerned about getting a job with a music a degree. However, there are wide array of jobs available to musicians with a music degree.

An Open Letter from Dr. Davis

First, Show Me The Money!

This is the number one question that most perspective students ask. Guitar is one of the few instruments that can actually pay the bills in private lessons and gigs–over 6 million guitars are sold every year (Piano is next with around 250K). At the height of my private music store teaching days (which I did for more than 25 years–and still do on a greatly reduced basis), I was teaching between 50-60 students a week. I charged $15-25 per half-hour (that rate grew from $15 in the late 80s to $25 by 2003). Students took one half-hour lesson a week and my lesson contract required them to pay at the beginning of the month for that month with no cancellations (for them) or rescheduling (I had far too many students to do that). I paid the music store owner $2 per student for studio rent (for each lesson that I actually taught—cancellations were not charged) and I had my own lockable studio room with my gear in it.

I was earning $600 a week in the late 80s and typically taught 48 weeks a year. So, my gross income (just from teaching) ranged from 28K in the late 80s and grew to over 50K by the time I took this full time position at EKU in 2001.

So if private teaching was so great, why did you get your guitar performance degrees and take a college gig?

I was already an undergrad in guitar performance when I started teaching at the music store in my early 20s. It was the fact that I could read music and was pursuing a degree in college that helped me get in the door. In fact, the store owner was not even interested in talking to me about teaching there until he found out I was majoring in music. When I showed up I played a variety of songs for him (some simple classical tunes, a jazz standard, and a rock song) and said, “So what…can you read?” I said, “I’m working on it.” He put some trumpet music in front of me and I was able to read it fairly well–and that was the main thing that got me in the door. I taught there for over 25 years and made amazing friendships and networked in the profession in way that would not have been otherwise possible. Do you realize how many young struggling guitarists show up at music stores wanting to teach? Do you realize that most music stores are owned by non-guitarists who have college degrees in music? Guess what skills they prioritize (beyond asking how many students you can bring in to their store)? Most store owners prioritize the ability to teach multiple styles and the ability to read music!

And, just to be clear, that same music store owner liked what I did so much that he asked me to join his Wedding Band–and that led to an average of 50-80 dates a year (another 8K a year). I played with that group for 17 years and we rehearsed less than ten times total–they all read music and the leader would just bring charts to the gigs. Those gigs included performances for a vice-president (George Bush), senators, congressmen, the Judds (Ashley, Wynonna, and Naiomi), Patrick Swayze, Pat Sajack and a slew of other folks that I would have never met had I not gotten a college education in music.

But why did you give that up to teach college?

MORE MONEY, health insurance, retirement benefits, and I’m on paid vacation every time that my students are on vacation–and with pay. Like most students I’m off for Christmas break (5 weeks), Spring Break (1 week), Fall Break (two days), and of course—summer (May 15 to August 15). I have an eight-month contract, but I spread it over 12 months to cover the summer bills. College teaching is very different from teaching in K-12. No in-service days, parent/teacher conferences, or assignments in teaching math or other non-music subjects. I teach guitar and music technology–the two things that I love to do and I have more time to practice and gig now then when I taught at the music store: WIN-WIN. Don’t get me wrong, teaching K-12 is a great job and it’s a perfect fit for many guitar majors. Several high school programs/districts have hired guitar teachers (with degrees in guitar) and I have personally seen the high school scene explode with guitar participation since the late 80s. Some schools offer 5-6 classes a day in guitar and one high school I know of has about 150 students studying guitar. Make no mistake, K-12 teaching jobs are good gigs and they typically pay very well! By the way, I’m also the current Guitar Division Director for KMEA and I, along with a little help from my other (college educator) friends, established the first ever Kentucky All-State Guitar Orchestra.

It sounds like your path/situation was the exception and not the rule.

Having a degree in guitar IS the exception. The vast majority of guitarists do not have a degree, or much formal training in music. Any guitarist with one is already miles ahead of the competition.

The teachers at my local music store don’t have guitar degrees, and they seem pretty good. Why do I need one?

EKU and other schools are graduating excellent players–well trained. That “local hero” situation will not last forever. Are the piano teachers formally trained where you live? How about the teachers on most every other instrument: trumpet, flute, sax, percussion, etc.? I’m betting that the teachers on other instruments in your area ARE formally trained–with a degree in music–and guitar is next. To quote Bob Dylan, “the times…they are a changin’.”

Think about it this way: who typically writes the checks for guitar lessons at a music store? Is it typically the student, or the parent? Since most private students are teenagers (or younger), you need to impress the person writing the check–the parent. They want a well-trained teacher for their child–someone who can teach them multiple styles, including classical/fingerstyle guitar, and especially, how to read music and apply music theory. The first rule in the “music business” is to figure out who has the checkbook. And, this same logic goes for gigs–why should a bride hire a classical guitarist for her wedding and then a completely different guitarist for the wedding reception? They shouldn’t need to! A college trained guitarist from EKU can cover it all (more money) and save her money by bundling their services (WIN-WIN). The same goes for sessions and musicals. I’ve played a slew of musical productions and earned doubling or even tripling fees when the gig calls for electric, classical, and sometimes, banjo. And, most musicals have charts that require fingerstyle chops (check out the charts for Godspell, for example). Students from schools that force you to pursue only one style, typically classical OR jazz, cannot (typically) read and perform multiple styles. And, EKU students are typically called to play musicals at other schools and universities–because they CAN play multiple styles AND read. That said, if you’re curious about musicals and session work (session artist, commercial jingles, etc.), you should major in guitar at EKU and get Tommy Tedesco’s book, For Guitar Players Only.

But, I don’t want to teach! I want to be a star!

Cool! I hope you make it!! If you believe that you can write and/or perform the next grammy winning hit–then do it! Sincerely!! I wish you the best!! Now, think about the vast number of “Stars” who teach… and many do it via the Internet. Stars like Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani teach, and all of them took guitar lessons. The same is true for virtually all of the classical icons and many contemporary jazz greats. Why do they do it? More money! However, do not worry if you think that you can’t write the next hit or play well enough to “make it.” There are many folks like you and your college training, powered by your love for music, guitar, and your tenacity to put your derrier in a chair and practice, will make you good enough to earn a decent living at it.

Ok… but, what else can I do besides teach and gig?

Do a Google search for: “Music Careers: Dollars and Cents” and look at the Berklee College of Music job brochure. There are a host of non-teaching jobs for guitarists with degrees, such as Performance, Writing, Business, Audio Technology, Education, Music Therapy, Recording Arts, Management, and Film-Scoring.
 With five degree options for every music major (Performance, Theory/Composition, Education, Recording Arts, and Music Industry), EKU has the possibilities covered.

Check out these lists, for example:


There are more links than this, so, do your own simple search for careers in the music industry–you will find many resources that discuss jobs and salary ranges. If a student wants a guaranteed income, they should sacrifice their musical dreams and get a job in the medical, engineering, or legal profession. But, before you do that, be sure to note which careers have the highest dissatisfaction and suicide rates: It’s not music (just keeping it real…)! Music is not even in the top 20. Anyone who dedicates themselves fully to their chosen career in music will get a job–there’s room for everyone who has that level of dedication to the art form. Remember the old adage, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!”

Majoring in guitar was a rarity in college music departments even twenty years ago. Those programs are typically based on concert band, symphony orchestral and vocal music and those administrators felt like there was no reason to include guitar. That has changed! Guitar programs are springing up all over the place, but 99% of them only offer you one style to study. You are forced to choose between classical or jazz and contemporary guitar is treated like an unworthy pursuit. Not at EKU! At EKU you will learn all styles—and that versatility is exactly the edge you want in today’s competitive music industry. At EKU, you will also get to study commercial music, recordings arts, and all music majors take courses in music industry. How else can you learn branding, public relations, promotion, and music-specific technology?

Unfortunately, many young guitarists feel inadequately prepared to study music in college. And sadly, it is true, they are typically not prepared and few guitarists can read music before they come to college. The good news is that this is the case across the entire United States right now, and until high and middle school curriculums include guitar as an option—it will remain that way. So, we expect you, as a guitarist, to be unprepared and apprehensive about it. Once you get here, you’ll find yourself in good company and the upper classmen will also help mentor you and help you get your bearings. That said, students planning on majoring in guitar should consider their current level of preparation and start working now to give themselves the best chance for success by preparing for their audition. Like any other music major, students majoring in guitar will need to be focused, committed, and hard-working to succeed.

Checklist for Learning to Play Guitar

1: Learn the notes on the fingerboard

Learn the notes on the fingerboard and do not confuse octaves and registers. Buy “Solo Guitar Playing Book 1” by Fredrick Noad (thick black book) and work through it. It will teach the notes and how to read. The exercises should be done fingerstyle and pick-style. Serious guitarists should study movable forms, such as those produced by the CAGED system (an acronym for C – A – G – E – D, the five most common chord shapes on the guitar). Multiple fingerings of all scales and modes should be practiced, including the Segovia/RCM fingerings for fingerstyle/classical guitar and the standard scales (including 3-note per string modes) for jazz and contemporary guitar. Students should also learn extended jazz chord voicings (∆7, m7, m7b5, 7, diminished, and altered dominant chords). Email Dr. Davis at and I’ll send you my basic CAGED information (modes/chords) for free.

2: Learn to read music

First of all, guitarists rarely hire guitarists. If a guitarist needs a guitar part played, they typically (want) to play it themselves. However, everyone else in the music business hires guitarists because they DO NOT play guitar. These directors, producers, and conductors are typically pianists, brass players, vocalists, percussionists, and woodwind players—who are very skilled and literate musicians. They want to be able to put a music score in front of a guitarist and simply conduct. So, they need a guitarist who can read well, and in a multiplicity of styles. The benefit to you as a player is if you can read well, you don’t have to memorize everything and you can quickly workup anything that’s in notation. So, instead of spending a ton of time to memorize a few songs, you can peruse through centuries of great music. Learning to read traditional music notation is crucial to success in college and absolutely critical in the professional world. Serious guitar students should work to read anything in notation, whether it is for piano, trumpet, sax, and even bass clef. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been given a piano score (often without chord symbols) on a gig and was expected to read it—this also happens in jazz band (but, those scores often have chord symbols). So, get yourself a copy of “Solo Guitar Playing Book I” by Fredrick Noad and after you work through the first 60 or so exercises, get “A Modern Method for Guitar” (William Leavitt; Berklee Press). These are excellent “self-starter” books to learn how to read and students should also begin working through “Sight Reading Studies” books I and II by Berklee Press. These books are fairly cheap at Amazon because they have no tablature and they are, quite frankly, very hard for “self-taught” beginning players. However, “hard” is good for you and those skills will lead to money and they will also separate you from the millions of self-taught, or poorly taught, non-reading guitarists. Remember the old joke: How do you get a guitar player to turn down—put sheet music in front him / her.

3: Learn other guitar styles, especially classical and jazz guitar

As witnessed in the iconic movie “Crossroads” (see it if you haven’t: Steve Vai and Ralph Macchio), classical guitar gives you a rock-solid foundation to do EVERYTHING else! Beyond the very cool literature, classical guitar teaches tone production, proper technique, theory, co-ordination between the hands, posture and relaxation, phrasing, hand strength and endurance, and velocity. These skills are crucial in ALL styles of guitar playing.

4: Ask to participate in middle school, high school, and local music programs

The serious guitar student should try to participate in school music programs wherever possible. The problem here is that many high school music teachers cannot play guitar, and they simply don’t know what to do with you.

Jazz ensemble
Reinforces rhythm, harmonic, ensemble, and improvisational/stylistic skills.

Musical theatre
An opportunity to learn how to follow a conductor and play in a pit-orchestra.

Marching / field show pit bands
An opportunity to use pop/rock guitar skills in an organized setting, as many marching bands perform popular music and now, often feature a non-marching section on the sidelines—that means you and an amp.

Guitar class / ensemble
Students who are fortunate to have guitar instruction in their school should definitely take advantage of it.

Local Options
Students should see if their community theater offers musicals, if so, find out if you can play in the pit. Get with your pastor, church music director, or youth leader and get involved in worship music. Many churches are eagerly seeking guitarists to give their music a more contemporary sound.

5: Take lessons from a GREAT Teacher

  • Teaching is an art, not a science, and just because someone can play guitar “great” doesn’t mean that they can teach you how to play “great.” If a basketball player is 7 foot tall, he’s going to get a scholarship in basketball, even if he can’t play well. You can’t coach a short basketball player and make them 7 foot tall. A 7 foot tall player was born to grow that tall–they just have it—end of story. Guitar is like that in some ways, it is entirely possible for a person to be completely self-taught and be a good guitarist (“7 foot tall guitarist,” so to speak). The instrument came very easily to them and they really never had to work much (even though they actually played a lot) to learn it. That means that they cannot related to someone who is not a natural—they never had those struggles–so, why would they know how to fix your guitar problems? I’ve actually heard several great players in masterclasses and clinics tell a student, “I don’t know what to tell you to help you, I’ve never had that problem.” The teachers who are very good players and who actually had to work very hard to get their skills, make they best teachers—they’ve already made a slew of mistakes, struggled to overcome technical and musical problems, and they’ve made it! So, in short, “Johnny Hotlick” is typically not a great teacher, unless he can read (very well), can also teach music theory and can play a variety of styles well. Typically speaking, good teachers can read very well—in multiple styles, so they don’t need memorize licks like “Johnny Hotlick.”
  • Guitar instructors who primarily teach hobbyists are often not qualified to prepare college-bound students wanting to major in guitar. These folks are often decent players and typically play in local bands, etc. However, they are not the best choice for college-bound guitarists if they can’t read music well, don’t play jazz AND classical guitar, don’t teach fingerboard visualization, music notation, and music theory. So in this important regard, teachers who can’t do…can’t teach. Select an appropriate instructor: those who have earned a music degree, are outstanding players, and are experienced in teaching serious guitar students. If you need help preparing for college, contact me and I’ll help you for free.

6: Learn about different guitar styles

Serious guitar students should be aware of the great and important guitarists of recent decades, and listen to their recordings. An introductory list includes:

  • Classical: Andres Segovia, David Russell, Marcin Dylla, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, Anna Vidovic, etc.
  • Jazz: Al DiMeola, Les Paul, Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow, Jimmy Raney, Johnny Smith, Charlie Christian, John Scofield, Mike Stern, etc.
  • Blues: B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bernard Allison (don’t let the name fool you…great player!), etc.
  • Country: Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Glen Campbell, Scotty Moore, Albert Lee, Tony Rice, etc.
  • Rock: Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, Trevor Rabin, Alex Lifeson, Eddie Van Halen, John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Jennifer Batten, and of course… Malmsteen…etc…
  • Flamenco: Paco de Lucia, Carlos Montoya, Sabicas, Paco Peña, John McLaughlin, Manitas de Plata, Gabriella e Rodriguez, etc.

7: Purchase appropriate instruments

The guitar is not so much one instrument, but a “family of instruments.” A serious guitarist may need several guitars to be ready for college.  Thankfully, the quality of inexpensive guitars has never been higher; a student guitarist can often acquire all of the instruments below for less than the cost of one saxophone.

  • Electric Guitar My recommendation for cheap and good: PRS SE models. But, there are many other makers. Your electric should have at least two pickups to cover a variety of styles and you will definitely need one with a humbucking pickup in the neck position. Use no lighter than gauge .010 strings (.011 if also used for jazz).
  • Acoustic: Nylon My higher priced favorites include Guo, Cervantes, and Cordoba, but if you have never played a nylon stringed guitar before, just get a nice inexpensive Yamaha to start college. You will have to upgrade later.
  • Acoustic: Steel-String guitars are popular. Select a solid wood model, which sounds better than laminates. My preference is for Taylors, but Yamaha, Alvarez, and Takamine, are also fine and there are many other great brands, such as Breedlove, to survey. Electronics are a nice plus when gigging and doing musicals.
  • Amplifier Select a compact, easily transported 40-80 watt amp with a good “clean” sound and sufficient power (volume) for performances; effects can be added with pedals if necessary. My preference is for Roland Cube 80 amplifiers. They are clean, quite, and my AX8 sounds great through it. I love tube amps and I have several, including Marshalls and Mesa Boogie, but they are not quiet enough for a studio session or a musical and they are too heavy (weight/transportation wise) for most applications.

Guitar Alumni Share Their Experiences

Benjamin Bunch (2019 EKU Guitar Alumnus (B.M.), Campbellsville University Guitar Graduate Assistant)

Throughout my time majoring in guitar at EKU, I’ve gained so much it’s hard to list it all. I’ve proceeded to gain an immeasurable amount of professionalism, technical ability, and musicality I would have never had if it had not been for my time in this program. Dr. Dennis Davis took me in and mentored me even though when I originally auditioned I could not read music very well. Throughout countless hours of practice, I persevered and graduated with a degree in performance on guitar.

I feel as if majoring in guitar at EKU helped me surpass the barrier that my potential had been locked at for a long time. I’ve always felt pushed to better than I am the prior day as a guitar major, whether that’s by Dr. Davis himself or through any of the other faculty that really want to make sure that you’re the best you can possibly be. Overall, my experience and time in this program will still hold some of my favorite memories. I feel so blessed to have been able to major in guitar, making that decision has allowed me to pursue what I’d really like to do in life and that’s make music.

Kent Mulcahy (2009 EKU Guitar Alumnus (B.M.), Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Alumnus (M.M.) and former CCM Guitar Graduate Assistant)

It goes without saying that everything you learn from Dr. Davis and the EKU Music Program will help you in all musical endeavors you undertake, but what you may not consider are the skills you’ll gain that will help you in ANY career path you end up following. Two things I severely lacked before starting my guitar degree with Dr. Davis were general discipline and the ability to work well in a high stress, team-oriented environment. In regard to the former, one does not complete a music degree without the discipline to practice for hours every day (seriously…every single day). The resulting focus musicianship requires lends itself well to any detail oriented profession. In regard to teamwork, one of the most valuable attributes I took away from my time in the EKU guitar ensemble was a keen sense of when to step back and let a natural group dynamic steer team members individually toward a common goal, and when to really step up and lead a diverse group of personalities through a difficult task. The ability to better evaluate the needs of a team has served me extremely well as I’ve risen to higher positions within my profession, and for that I will always be grateful to Dr. Davis and the EKU Music Program.

As a closing note, my time in the EKU Guitar Ensemble is definitely a stretch of years I look back on as some of the best, most fun, and ultimately rewarding of my life. Yes…it was very stressful. But I think anything you’re passionate about doing well should, in some ways, be trying. Challenges aside, I made friends that, over a decade after graduation, I’m still in touch with. When we get together, we recount the same guitar ensemble stories over and over again. Some comically horrifying and some triumphant, but all factor into the points outlined in the above paragraph that contribute to a versatile degree.

Kevin Case (2015 EKU Guitar Alumnus, EKU School of Music Staff; Footprints by Wayne Shorter)

The experiences gained at EKU with Dr. Davis have been invaluable to my career as a musician and educator. I have learned to play a variety of music from classical era masterpieces to jazz fusion power house tunes. Not only have I grown exponentially as a player but also as an educator. I have learned the history of music as well as the guitar. However I think the most valuable aspect is the mechanics of the body and how to play and practice effectively. This knowledge has helped me maintain a thriving studio of budding guitarists.

As well as teaching I have been given opportunities to play for several regional musicals, music festivals and a variety of well paid gigs on both classical and electric guitar. The majority of which would not have happened if not for my quality education and contacts made though my time at EKU.

Throughout my tenure as an undergraduate student, graduate student, and staff member in the School of Music, I have been able to travel across the country and internationally to play music of many different styles. The trips to MAGEF (Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival), Appalachian State Guitar Festival, and NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) have provided me with incredible opportunities to play with and meet some of my guitar heroes.

I would not be the person I am today without all of the amazing experiences I gained through the guitar program at EKU.

James Meade (2010 EKU Guitar Alumnus (B.M.), Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Alumnus (M.M.) and former CCM Guitar Graduate Assistant) Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega)

I’m incredibly thankful to Ricky Wells and Jeanne Blankenship for their support. Eventually I was accepted into the guitar program at Eastern Kentucky University. There, Professor Davis had enough patience for a kid with no life skills but one obsessed with music. He guided me along and gave a new beginning, and for that I cannot thank him enough. (from the All About the Arts website)

Luke Jackson (2015 EKU Guitar Alumnus and currently a Graduate Assistant in Guitar at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music; The Nearness of You by Hoagy Carmichael)

I owe so much to my time in the EKU Guitar Program, and can never thank Dr. Davis, or the rest of the faculty enough for their influence and impact on my life, and career as a musician. The program not only teaches you to be a better guitarist, but also gives you all the tools you will need to succeed to earn a living off the instrument. Since graduating I have enjoyed continued success as a performer, and teacher, and routinely get opportunities based off the fact that I attended EKU.

During your time in the program, you will be able to hear countless other talented musicians through concerts and recitals put on by your peers, faculty, and guest artists. These will encompass many different styles, instruments, periods, and will expose you to music you likely never would have heard otherwise. This is not to even mention the festivals, and competitions you will travel to, allowing you to brush shoulders with some of the finest guitarists of our time.

To sum it all up, if you are a guitarist who wants to take their playing to the next level, and pursue a career in music, then you owe it to yourself to check out this program.

Scott Mitchell (2011 EKU Guitar Alumnus (B.M.) and currently a professional touring musician; Tractor Pull, by Preston Reed)

One of the best decisions of my late teens and early twenties was to study music at Eastern Kentucky University under the tutelage of Dr. Dennis Davis. One notable approach of Dr. Davis’s in regards to teaching is no matter what your concentration, be it Ed, Composition, or Performance, he holds you all to the same standards of performance and pedagogical training required to excel moving forward in your career, wether or not you go into your graduate studies, teaching or hit the road like I did, you are all held to the same fire. After I graduated I moved to Nashville with a friend I made in the music program named Todd Morehead. Todd is an excellent bass player and we teamed up to be sort of a Nashville version of the ‘Wrecking Crew’ (well at least in our own minds). We played and toured with various local and regional acts during this time as well as got some experience in recording studios as session players, but I have to honest here, I would have never survived or had any modicum of success in these endeavors if it wasn’t for Dennis’s advice, training, and strategies for learning pieces quickly and efficiently. Also, the fear of god he put in me for ever…EVER being late for anything. Do yourselves a favor, never miss, never be late for his class or any class, getting work as a musician really is 80% just showing up on time, every time. The structure of Eastern’s music program leans much to traditional conservatory study, however, Dennis strives to incorporate many style other than jazz and classical. I remember there was always a pop song on our ensemble and solo concerts. And speaking of ensembles, that is a very unique part of the EKU Guitar Studio. More often than not, Ensemble is an after thought for classical guitar programs but with Dennis it is at the fore front of his program. He rotates every student through the jazz ensemble that’s directed by the excellent Dr. Larry Nelson…again don’t miss EVER. As well as, taking select quartets or trios to participate in the Mid American Guitar Festival, I hope the “A-team” is still a thing. Finally, on a personal note I was not the best student, I was often late or missed class altogether and got a bad reputation around Foster for being flaky and unreliable. And, when many professors were ready to write me off as a mistake, Dennis never quit, never stopped trying to reach me, and went to bat for me with his colleagues defiantly more times than he really should have had to. I wouldn’t say he’s a patient man but he doesn’t give up, and he’s the best mentor I’ve had. When I met Dennis, I was a middle school student in the Foster music guitar camp. I’ll never forget what he asked me, he asked me “What do you want to do with music?” I replied “I want to be the best Guitarist I can be.” That’s exactly what he did for me and that exactly what he will do for you, the rest is up to you.

Good Luck.

the steel band performs onstage


The EKU Percussion Studio offers one of the most comprehensive percussion educations in the region. Instruction is offered in performance techniques on marching percussion, marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, concert snare drum, timpani, and the various accessory instruments. In addition, non-western percussion instruction in Afro-Cuban, African, Brazilian, Indian, and Caribbean drumming styles are also part of the curriculum.

School of Music

521 Lancaster Avenue
Foster 101
Richmond, KY 40475
Phone: 859-622-3266

Connect with Music @ EKU