William Leavitt is most known for his A Modern Method for Guitar, Volume 1, 2 & 3. However, this series that I’m reviewing is probably a better one for beginner guitar lessons especially in group guitar settings.
Before we start, you can also read my review for the first book in this series here.
Compared to the first book, this volume presents more music in different styles that are fun to learn. There are classical arrangements, folk style guitar, children songs and originals by Leavitt (of course). It also continues with the previous format of including pieces arranged for duets, trio and even quartet. These are good for teachers who would like to use this book for group guitar classes.
Compared to the first book which was mostly in the key of C (and some in G major), this one goes into keys up to three flats and three sharps. Everything is still in open position, although you can find the A (on the fifth fret of the first string) once in the entire book. William Leavitt also introduces fingering for the different major keys and includes their natural minor and harmonic minor counterparts too.
The guitar parts written also start covering more rhythm guitar type parts and bass line parts in the guitar duo, trios and quartet arrangements. Some of the pieces also have that kind of early rock and roll influences. The minor key pieces towards the end of the book are a real highlight too.
As the book progresses, I began to enjoy the pieces more and more. The solo guitar etudes in the book also are a joy to play. It’s really interesting how William Leavitt could arrange so well in different keys in open position. Beyond just looking at the pieces as beginner etudes, these are worthwhile to study if you’re an arranger too. It certainly made me want to write similar pieces like that as I played them.
In conclusion, in my experience it’s hard to find a good all in one book that gives solid musical training while using great sounding pieces. Like many books within this category, most beginner guitar method books are a product of an earlier era of guitar playing and learning. So, it does require the right teacher, student and mindset to get the full benefit of the book.
I would recommend this book for anyone who worked on the first book & enjoyed it enough to continue studying with this book. Although more skilled beginner guitar students could begin with this book, it makes most sense to be used in sequence, one after another.
Pros: Musical pieces and exercises designed to help you learning sight reading & play the guitar.
Cons: Some people might find the pieces and the guitar style taught boring.
TLDR: If you’ve been working on the first book, this book gives a good next step for you to develop your playing and sight reading.
You can easily buy this book on Amazon and other bookstores. The current cover will say “Berklee Basic Guitar – Phase 2” – but it is the same book.
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