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MUS X57/250 Syllabi (EKU Classical and Electric Guitar Ensembles)

School of Music  
Syllabus for EKU Guitar Ensembles
Fall 2023

MUS X57 (TR 3:30-5:30) Classical Guitar Ensemble
MUS 250 (MWF 2:30-3:15) Electric Guitar Ensemble
Electric Guitar Masterclass (MWF 1:25-2:15)

Instructor: Dr. Dennis Davis
Office: Foster 112
Office telephone: (859) 622-5007
Office hours: By appointment
Classroom: Campbell 327

Academic Apparatus:

Course Rationale * Prerequisites * Learning Objectives * Student Assessment * Required Materials * Grading Policy * Attendance Policy * Reserve Materials * University Policies

Course Specifics:

Credo * Required Meeting Times * Rehearsal Preparation * Attire * Performance Requirements * Musicianship/Professionalism

Course Rationale:
National standards demand that aspiring professional guitarists develop guitar ensemble skills.


Audition required. The EKU guitar ensemble is open to all EKU students. Students interested in learning more about the EKU guitar ensemble, or becoming a guitar major or minor need to contact Dennis Davis.

Students must successfully complete four semesters of MUS 257 before they may enroll into MUS 457. It is also understood that MUS 457 students will be expected to perform advanced literature.


Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn musicianship.
  • Students will learn proper guitar technique.
  • Students will learn how to present historically informed and creatively expressive performances of literature for guitar ensemble from every major style period.
  • Students will learn ensemble mechanics and rehearsal techniques.


Student Assessment:

  • Students will present prepared literature in weekly rehearsals.
  • Students will perform as required during the semester and those performances will be assessed by both the student and the instructor.
  • Students will participate in several recital performances each semester. Students are required to perform in convocation each semester. Other performances will also be required. A recording session will occur the week before or after each EKU Guitar Ensemble Concert.
  • Video and Audio recordings will assist the assessment process. Weekly Dropbox recordings constitute 50% of your ensemble grade and ensemble recordings are by Sunday at 11 a.m.


Required Materials:

  • Instruments: All students should own a quality classical guitar (eventually spending $3,000 or more as opposed to $200 or less) and a versatile electric suited for jazz (humbucking pickups in neck and bridge position- preferably splitable).
  • Accessories: footstool, small music stand, concert attire, metronome, music dictionary, nail care kit (diamond file, buffing board, 600 grit or equivalent sand paper, replacement nails, silk mesh, and superglue), cables, recording device (mp3 preferred for Dropbox), volume pedal, amplifier, and picks.


Reserve Materials Include:

  • Articles, journals, and books explaining various aspects of guitar technique, performance, history, and pedagogy.
  • Recordings and scores.
  • Various items from my personal collection as necessary.


Attendance Policy:

  • Alternate ensemble times will be arranged when the professor has a scheduling conflict. An unexcused student absence lowers the semester grade by one letter. Only verifiable university or medical absences will be accepted. Three tardy arrivals equal one absence. Missing a concert, dress rehearsal, or other required performance results in a failing grade for the semester. Note: rehearsals must begin on time - meaning all preparatory issues: tuning, music wrangling, and so forth are completed before rehearsal time.


Grading Policy:

  • Rehearsals will be graded weekly, averaged, and combined with concert performance grades to produce a semester score. The first rehearsal of each semester is used to define objectives, discuss priorities, test reading skills, and set goals. Grades are based on degree of improvement, quality of preparation, amount of material covered, attendance, and, how effectively the semester goals are realized. The grade 'B' indicates progress; 'A' indicates exceptional work. Any student receiving less than a B needs to reassess his or her goals and career choice.
  • It is assumed that ensemble parts will be practiced and carefully considered. I am fairly adept at knowing whether or not parts have been practiced. I can also tell the difference between a nervous student struggling to play something they have practiced and a student that is really unprepared. If a student comes to ensemble unprepared they will be sent to the practice room to work on the assignment. Three or more unprepared rehearsals lowers your semester grade by one letter.
  • Audio (or video) recordings form the primary measurement of your outside preparation. Weekly Dropbox recordings constitute 50% of your weekly ensemble grade and those recordings are due each Sunday by 11 a.m. I fully expect your recordings to reflect your struggles, abilities, and level of familiarity with the literature. If you have not had the literature for very long, your recordings will reflect that. If you are not an experienced player, your recordings will reflect that. Your recordings may sound very rough when you first receive your assignments, and that is perfectly fine. They allow us to target your difficulties and work to resolve them. If you fail to submit your recordings, I must assume that you failed to practice your literature. And much worse, it impedes my ability to quickly diagnose your problem areas and help you overcome them.
  • The semester grade will be lowered by one letter for each unexcused absence or three tardies. Missing a required concert results in a failing grade. Demerits lower the final grade by 1%. Please refer to the EKU Guitar Handbook for more information and clarification.



  • The study of music demands, as do all the arts, not only natural ability and talents, but also more importantly dedication, sacrifice, self-discipline, inquisitiveness, and the unrelenting desire to achieve excellence. Success requires all of these attributes. Natural ability is not a substitute for any other component. In fact, natural ability often unfairly enjoys the credit earned by hard work and dedication. It is assumed that music students are here to get the most from the Department of Music, its faculty, and resources, and, that music students will work consistently towards advancement in all areas, including those required outside the field of music. Music is a highly competitive art form and success is not guaranteed by tuition and attendance; success requires a self-sacrificing dedication to the field that includes a refusal to quit. The study of music is never finished and never takes extended holidays. Music requires regular practice and consistent effort to simply maintain prior accomplishments and future progress only happens after extended periods of regular practice. Since music is never “finished,” musicians, like athletes, must continue to progress without any extended breaks, especially if they hope to graduate with the skills and abilities to be “drafted” by a professional organization or excellent graduate school. Consider these words by Jascha Heifetz: If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it. (Heifetz). Every successful musician lives by this quote and students who ignore it are ignored by the profession. To prevent this devastating “learning outcome,” guitar students are required to submit recordings regularly and make regular progress during every academic break. It is fine to rest for one day or occasionally two, but more than that thwarts progress, memorization, interpretation, the ability to sight-read, and ultimately, confidence. If a unique event forces a break that is longer than three days, then balance that loss by either submitting extra recordings before, or immediately after, the academic break; but, never think that an academic break exempts any student from progressing and evidencing regular progress via weekly recordings. Some students may wonder about the recourse that follows the failure to make recordings and progress during breaks, and several have learned by having their recitals cancelled, literature changed, and most frequently, one or more extra semesters added to the end of their studies. But, the worse recourse is the self-inflected loss of progress, confidence, and growth that results from taking the break “off.” Everyone is free to make choices, but not from the consequences of their choices. Music is highly competitive and unfortunately, your competition will be thrilled by your mistakes and poor choices. Consider how unique music really is:
  • Go on; don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets. Art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise men to the Divine…I will take fate by the throat; it will never bend me completely to its will. (Beethoven).
  • If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. (Einstein).
  • Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. (Plato)


Required Meeting Times:

  • Applied lessons are arranged each semester at a mutually convenient time.
  • MUS X32F Masterclass meets every MWF at 1:25 pm., unless there is a Friday Convocation (attend the Friday convocation). Friday meetings give students the opportunity to rehearse together at a mutually required time (when there is not a student convocation).
  • MUS 250 (Electric Guitar Ensemble) meets every MWF at 2:30 pm. Friday meetings are required and they typically serve as self-directed rehearsals that give students the opportunity to rehearse together at a mutually required time. Outside rehearsal times are necessary for growth and development.
  • Classical Guitar Ensemble/Performance class meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 - 5:30 pm.
  • Directed and Undirected Ensembles meet weekly as assigned. An unexcused absence from any group rehearsal/masterclass the semester grade by one letter. Three unexcused tardies equal one absence.

Performance Requirements and Important Dates:

  • Performance Requirements:
    Guitar majors will present an ensemble and studio concert on the EKU campus every semester. Other performances will be required on a periodic basis and include concerts at other universities, recording sessions, Friday Student Recitals, and local and regional K-12 institutions. Some concert times are subject to change and more concerts may be added when dates are finalized. Please flexible and willing to accommodate serendipitous performance opportunities. It is critical to your professional development.
  • A recording session will occur each semester.
  • All EKU guitar department recordings are the sole property of the EKU department of


Dress Rehearsals and Concerts:


  • Various concerts at local and regional venues (TBA)
  • The EKU Jazz Ensemble Concert, Gifford Theater, October 5, 2023, 7:30PM
  • The EKU Guitar Ensemble, Louisville Guitar Festival, October 13-15, 2023, (Times Vary)
  • The EKU Guitar Ensemble, Laurel County Public Library, October 20, 2023, 6PM
  • EKU Guitar Ensemble Concert, Brock Auditorium, October 24, 2023, 7:30PM
  • The EKU Jazz Ensemble Concert, Gifford Theater, November 16, 2023, 7:30PM
  • EKU Guitar Studio Concert, O'Donnell Theater (Whitlock Bldg.), November 21, 2023, 7:30PM



  • Various concerts at local and regional venues (TBA)
  • The EKU Guitar Ensemble, Lexington Public Library, February 18, 2024, 2:30-3:30PM
  • The EKU Jazz Ensemble Concert, Gifford Theater, March 7, 2024, 7:30PM
  • The EKU Ensemble Concert, Gifford Theater, March 28, 2024, 7:30PM
  • The EKU Jazz Ensemble Concert, Gifford Theater, May 2, 2024, 7:30PM
  • The EKU Guitar Studio Concert, Gifford Theater, May 5, 2024, 3:00PM
  • All dress rehearsals are at 3:30 PM the day of the concert in the assigned venue, unless otherwise announced. A recording session will occur each semester. All EKU guitar department recordings are the sole property of the EKU department of music.


Midterm Exams:

§MUSX32F: Performance (during Midterm Lesson). Written September 28, 2023 (3:30-5:30).

§MUSX57: Performance and written September 28, 2023 (3:30-5:30).


§MUSX32F: Performance (during Midterm Lesson). Written February 29, 2024 (3:30-5:30).

§MUSX57: Performance and written February 29, 2024 (3:30-5:30).

Final Exams:


§MUSX32F: Written: Monday, 11/27/23, 1:00-3:00 pm, Campbell 327.

§MUSX57: Written: Thursday, 11/30/23, 1:00-3:00 pm, Campbell 327.

§MUSX32F: Performance: Wednesday (Juries), 11/29/23, 1:00-5:00 pm. (assigned time slots in Campbell 327)


§MUSX32F: Written: Monday, 5/6/2024, 1:00-3:00 pm. (Campbell 327).

§MUSX57: Tuesday 5/7/2024, 1:00-3:00 pm. (Campbell 327).

§MUSX32F: Performance: Wednesday (Juries), 5/8/2024, 1:00-5:00 pm. (see assigned time slots; held in Campbell 327)

§Juries: Students are required to perform a midterm and final jury examination each semester. 


Rehearsal Preparation:

  • It is assumed that ensemble parts will be practiced and carefully considered. I am fairly adept at knowing whether or not parts have been practiced. I can also tell the difference between a nervous student struggling to play something that they have practiced and a student that is really unprepared. If a student comes to ensemble unprepared they will be sent to the practice room to work on the assignment. Three or more unprepared rehearsals lowers your semester grade by one letter.


Convocation, Jury, and Solo Concert Attire:

  • Degree Recitals: Tuxedo or Coat and tie with dress pants, shoes, and socks. Some events may permit concert black. All attire decisions are made by the instructor. A performing musician is expected to own a tuxedo. It is the "uniform" of the industry. Tuxedo rental shops frequently sell used tuxedos at reasonable prices.
  • Guitar ensemble: Concert black, tuxedo, or similar approved apparel depending on the situation.
  • Jury (regular and Sophomore comprehensives): Dress shirt and tie with dress pants, shoes, and socks.
  • Convocation: Same as jury.


Musicianship and Lesson Professionalism* (see Blackboard: Guitar Department Handbook)




Transfer Students

§Transfer students need to successfully audition for the instructor.

§Transfer students with deficiencies may be accepted provisionally until their deficiencies are corrected. They may also be required to take remedial lessons. Transfer students will be assigned a classification for lessons depending upon their skill level (Freshman, Sophomore, etc.).

§Transfer students need to take the music theory placement examination.

§All transfer students need to submit the scholarship wavier form.

§Transfer students will refer to their assigned classification for specific requirements.


Technology and Email

EKU requires all students and faculty to use their University email accounts for all correspondence. [Please do not accept email from non-EKU addresses due to privacy and hacking concerns.]

This course requires the use of Microsoft Word. If you do not currently have this software on your computer, EKU provides Microsoft 365 Plus free to all students. You can find instructions on installing the application at this site:

Student Progress

You will be able to learn your grades via direct correspondence during private lessons. Grades will also be posted weekly for lessons and ensemble in our shared Lesson Planner (Google Document). If you think you need to drop the course, please discuss that possible decision with your instructor and bear in mind these deadlines.  


The EKU Syllabus Disability Accommodation Statement, Academic Integrity Statement, & Discrimination and Harassment, Title IX, and Prevention Statement.

Official Email & Email Correspondence: 

According to the EKU registrar: "Students who have not yet activated their EKU email account should do so ASAP and monitor that account regularly as it is an official means of communication between students and the university.

Smart Devices, Recording Devices, & Computer Etiquette in the Classroom:

Please power down your personal devices before class. Using an electronic device or allowing one to cause a class disruption will lower your final grade by one percentage point for each occurrence. Please warn me ahead of time if you think that you may need to take an urgent call. Please ask my permission if you wish to record my class. You may leave the class any time that you need to use the lavatory.

Accessibility Accommodation Statement

Eastern Kentucky University strives to make all learning experiences as accessible as possible. Students registered with the Center for Student Accessibility (CSA) should request accommodation letters from the CSA office. The Center for Student Accessibility will email your academic adjustment letter to you, or you may stop by the office for a hard copy. You will provide your letter to the course instructor(s) immediately. We strongly recommend that you discuss the accommodations needed with your instructor(s). Students who need an accommodation for a documented medical, mental health, or learning difference may register online at If you have questions, you may email the CSA office at or telephone at (859) 622-2933. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) does not consider pregnancy a disability.‚Äč Students needing accommodations due to pregnancy should contact John Dixon, Executive Director of Human Resources and Institutional Equity, at or contact the Office of Institutional Equity at 859-622-8020.

Mental/Physical Wellness Resources

Eastern Kentucky University is committed to the wellbeing of all students.

Students dealing with feelings of sadness or hopelessness, thoughts of harm or suicide, or increased anxiety may utilize the resources below or, for after-hours assistance contact:

EKU Counseling Center After Hours Urgent support line:

(859) 622-1303

National Suicide Hotline:

(800) 273-8255

or dial 988

We encourage students to contact the following on-campus services for assistance regarding emotional and physical needs:

EKU Student Health Services:

(859) 622-1761

EKU Psychology Clinic:

(859) 622 2356

EKU Counseling Center:

(859) 622-1303

EKU Women’s Health Clinic:

(859) 622-1761


Academic Integrity Statement

EKU is committed to the Academic Integrity policy in this course.  Students can find this policy at  For help with understanding how this policy works, contact the Office of Student Conduct at

Discrimination and Harassment, Title IX, and Prevention Statement

EKU is committed to maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment for students, faculty, administrators, staff, and visitors that is free of all forms of discrimination and harassment, including sexual misconduct.  The University supports and promotes a safe, violence-free campus through Green Dot Prevention and Education programming.  To learn more about Green Dot, request a presentation, or get involved, go to

EKU's commitment also requires those deemed to be mandated reporters to report any incident that has affected any member of the University Community that might implicate the University's Policy on Discrimination and Harassment to the University's Title IX Coordinator and/or the Office of Institutional Equity.

If you would like to obtain confidential help from someone who does not have to report the information, please go to for resources. The Policy on Discrimination and Harassment is available here.

Academic Integrity Statement: Students are advised the EKU’s Academic Integrity policy will strictly be enforced in this course. The Academic Integrity policy is available at Question regarding the policy may be directed to the Office of Academic Integrity. 


Smart Devices, Recording Devices, & Computers in the Classroom:

You are required to power down these devices before class begins. Class disruptions will lower your final grade by one point for each occurrence. It is my legal right to prohibit any kind of recording of my class, and I am exercising that right. Therefore, recording devices of any kind, audio or video, are prohibited in this class. Violating this policy is illegal, and violators will be sanctioned. You may request to use a smart device for taking notes in this class, but that privilege will be immediately revoked if you are caught doing anything else with that device.

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