Guitar Studio


Guitar Studio

UNCSA has included guitar study in its offerings since its founding in 1963 – making it nearly the longest-running guitar degree program in the U.S. This rich history has trained countless notable and highly-successful artists who have shared their talents around the globe.  

Our program enrolls 17 guitar majors across the college, graduate and high school levels. The guitar faculty members work together to create a single, unified guitar program with seamless instruction. Our culture is highly collaborate - not competitive - and all students work continuously on a variety of ensemble projects. 

Guitar students all train to learn and perform fully-composed compositions, create original music and to improvise. This includes developing the musical and technical skills needed to be able to pursue any musical style. Applicants are accepted with a variety of musical backgrounds and we embrace the diversity of musical and life experiences they bring together.

Guitar instruction at UNCSA is highly structured and organized and designed to recreate real-world professional experiences. Each week students have individual lessons, multiple performance class sessions, and classes devoted to building musicianship, technical and music reading skills. Upper-level college and graduate students receive extensive training in teaching, as well as in the guitar’s specific history and music. This is all in addition to the broader UNCSA Music curriculum. Students leave prepared to succeed in the real world with a confident understanding of how to take their next steps.

Meet the Faculty

Joseph Pecoraro

Joseph Pecoraro

It has been a great pleasure and privilege for me to train guitarists at UNCSA for over 20 years now. I am immensely gratified by watching our artists grow and develop while they are part of the program, and to continue to see their artistry and lives flourish as they pursue their paths. Once a student is accepted, I am devoted for life to nurturing their wellness, skill and passion and helping them remove the obstacles to pursuing their dreams.

I believe that everybody has the capacity to perform and create any style of music beautifully, easily, and without fear or frustration. This potential has everything to do with how we learn and the choices we make on how we spend our time. Our time is the most precious gift we have been given - using it well benefits enormously from expert, well-considered instruction.

My 30 + year career of consistently performing a variety of music has given me a privileged platform for understanding and exploring the practices that lead most directly to personal satisfaction in front of an audience or microphone. The good fortune I have had traveling extensively around North America to lead hundreds of workshops for guitar students and teachers has added valuable perspective on the experiences and industry my graduates will encounter. The many years of specific training I have pursued in music pedagogy and as a teacher of the Alexander Technique have deepened my understanding of how people learn a skill and the critical role a teacher plays in guiding this development.

These experiences have led me on a journey to design a curriculum for our UNCSA guitarists that gives a lot of specific direction yet leads to infinite possibility. Since learning a ‘skill’ is much less about what someone ‘knows’ and much more about what someone ‘does’ – I make use of detailed activities, practiced together in lessons and group sessions, that target the underlying abilities that allow a musician to learn music quickly and confidently and to free their imagination to create unencumbered. I’m often saddened by how much unnecessary struggle and suffering I observe in the greater world of studying guitar-so I am committed to breaking down the myths of inborn musical talent, mystical artistic powers, and mindless and endless repetition. I think the guitarists at UNCSA have fun, feel empowered, and play beautifully and I invite you to come for a visit and see for yourself!

Luke Payne

Luke Payne

Music has a unique power to heal, nourish and uplift, and it has enriched my life immeasurably. I feel fortunate to share my passion for music, and my respect for its power — both for practitioners and for the communities we serve — in my work as a music educator. I seek foremost to nurture the artistic spirit that is present within each of us. To do so requires a delicate balance, with clear guidance on the one hand and attentiveness and open-mindedness on the other.  

Every student is enriched by the cultivation of a profound awareness of the elements that constitute their chosen artistic discipline. Music is richly diverse in this regard; our work is at once intellectual, emotional, physical, and multi-sensory. I seek to guide my students toward an awareness of movement that culminates in a free and flexible technique, allowing for the expression of the widest possible range of musical ideas. As movement initiates from the mind, I work with students to instill skillful and effective habits of mind in practice and in performance. Similarly, I guide them to hear the elements of music clearly and insightfully. These include rhythm, melody, harmony and texture.  Learning to skillfully perceive and express these elements is an essential aspect of serious music study.

For students moving toward musical careers, it is necessary to supply the resources needed for success in a challenging and shifting marketplace. Happily, what is needed here overlaps with what is needed to serve our purely artistic goals: the ability to learn music from various traditions efficiently and well; a deep knowledge of the materials of music (rhythms, scales, harmonies); an assured and engaging command of our instrument; the ability to communicate and interact professionally with other musicians, and with non-musicians; familiarity with the traditions in which we work and create. It is also important to foster the curiosity required to keep exploring and learning as new possibilities arise, as they inevitably will.  

It is a music teacher’s job to distill from the infinite possibilities a path toward a secure and well-rounded musicianship, allowing for a lifetime of artistic growth and career opportunities, and to provide a space and community for this work to be done. That is what I am privileged to do alongside my colleague Joseph Pecoraro at UNCSA.    



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