Unlike many string instruments which use a bow to create a sound, guitars are played by plucking or strumming the strings on the instrument, which vibrate to create a sound. Chords are played when the guitarist holds their fingers down on more than one individual string to change its length, which in turn changes the frequency of the vibration created - in other words, it creates a different note. Performers often use guitar tabs, rather than sheet music, when learning music: this acts as a kind of 'map' to teach guitarists where to put their fingers on the strings.
We believe that music is a social activity so we present students with numerous opportunities to interact with each other. Each year we hold multiple recitals which offer a low-pressure opportunity to perform in front of an audience with other like-minded music students.  In addition to recitals, students frequently go out into the community to perform outreach concerts at local hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. Students also have the option to join group classes at our Santa Clara location. This offers students a chance to perform for each other more frequently, as well as join on our many performance ensembles. 
SFCM produces some of the most successful and influential classical guitarists in the world. Spearheaded by renowned faculty and complemented by visiting artists such as Marcin Dylla, the department honors the tradition of the classical guitar while cultivating innovation. The Harris Guitar Collection, housed at SFCM, gives students a chance to see—and play—some of the most extraordinary guitars of the last two centuries.
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