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How does Lead Guitar work?

Lead Guitar collaborates with K-12 schools to provide in-school guitar ensemble classes by pairing a Lead Guitar Teaching Artist with a certified “Teacher of Record” from a participating school to co-teach guitar classes.

The Teacher of Record is usually someone who does not play or teach guitar but has some experience leading other kinds of music classes. Band, Orchestra and Choir specialists are frequent partners but Science, Math and History teachers with some music experience have also been effective. Formal professional development and Lead Guitar’s proprietary curriculum including guitar ensemble method books, online learning platform, ensemble library, and lesson outlines give teachers a clear curricular road map to engage students all year long.

Throughout the year, classes meet two to five times per week during school hours with a Lead Guitar Teaching Artist there to model teach new concepts and support the Teacher of Record one day per week. Students are also inspired by in-school concerts from global touring guitarists and performance opportunities like the We Are Guitar live stream and Showcase Concerts at local College campuses.
Lead Guitar uses nylon-string guitars and teaches finger-style technique using a mixture of world folk music, Western art music, blues, mariachi, pop, rock and film music. Our method establishes core music competencies—such as understanding pitch and rhythm, playing diverse musical lines simultaneously with others, basic music theory, reading in standard notation, and ergonomic technique—as well as composition and improvisation activities.

Our Teaching Artists provide meaningful mentorship to boost Social-Emotional Learning through music participation, including self-confidence, accountability, focus, emotional regulation, and positive peer relationships. Lead Guitar appeals to students who may not be drawn to band and orchestra programs by using an instrument relevant to any tradition, genre, and cultural background. If there is a population at your school that is not receiving music education, Lead Guitar can help!

How much does Lead Guitar cost?

Lead Guitar is a 501c3 nonprofit and we are almost entirely funded by individual and corporate donors, foundations, and grants. Lead Guitar’s mission is to prioritize services for schools with the greatest need—currently, 82% of our school partners have federal Free and Reduced-Price Lunch (FRPL) eligibility of 80% or above.

Lead Guitar does not provide instruments. However, we do have partnerships with manufacturers and distributors that provide steep discounts on guitars and strings.
Program fees are applied along a sliding scale based on how many students are eligible for the FRPL program*:
  • More than 80% of students eligible = FREE PROGRAM
  • Between 60-79% of students eligible = $1,500 fee
  • Between 40-59% of students eligible = $3,500 fee
  • Between 20-39% of students eligible = $5,000 fee
  • Less than 20% of students eligible = $9,990 fee = FULL COST

    *If you believe your school has extenuating circumstances that makes the school eligible for a free program, please describe this in your application. Thank you!

How do I start?

  • First, check out our School Partners page here to see if Lead Guitar provides in-person services in your city.
    (If Lead Guitar does not currently serve your city with in-person services, please email
    Nick Lenio to discuss your needs).
  • Next, Contact us to set up a meeting so we can learn about the specific needs of your school.
  • Lastly, fill out an application, including basic information about the proposed partner teacher, students to be served, and facilities.

    We'll be in touch within a week of receiving your application!