Extracurricular Activities for Philadelphia Guitar Students 

 May 27, 2024

By  Kale Good

This article lists extracurricular activities available to Classical Guitar and Suzuki Guitar Students in Philadelphia. Its main focus is on youth activities; however, some of these activities also apply to adults. 

Classical guitarists need to make use of these opportunities. Much like the piano, we are primarily a solo instrument. This means there aren't as many ensemble and orchestral playing opportunities as compared to violin, flute, or other orchestral instruments.

This article lists competitions and performance opportunities available throughout the year. These events are put on by the Greater Philadelphia Suzuki Association (GPSA), the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society (PCGS), and the National Music Teacher's Association and its regional and local chapters (Pennsylvania and Philadelphia chapters, PMTA and PhMTA, respectively). 

These organizations require that the student's teacher be a member to participate in these events. Additionally, some require that the students themselves be members. 

Ensemble Opportunities

My Group Class

Group class is a core aspect of a complete Suzuki Music Education that provides many benefits. One of the major benefits of group class is that students get to perform in an ensemble with other guitarists. This is a great way to improve a student's note reading skills (which are more challenging on guitar than on almost any other instrument), rhythm, ensemble skills, and general musicianship. As an added bonus, your child enjoys making music socially. 

If your child isn't attending group class, do your best to have them attend!

PCGS Guitar Orchestra

The Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society's Guitar Orchestra is an excellent opportunity for high-school-aged students who are comfortable reading notes. The ensemble meets approximately once per month and has a few concerts per year. 

While this is an excellent musical opportunity, this ensemble skews much older (adults), and your child will likely not make many friends.

Jazz Band

While Jazz Band guitar technique differs from Classical Guitar technique, students can usually transition easily if they are able to strum chords, read notes, and use a pic. 

If your school doesn't have a Jazz Band, Settlement Music School does have Jazz Band ensembles open to kids ages 10 and up. 

Start a band with Friends

From talking to my students, I see this doesn't happen as often as it used to. But find a singer, a drummer, and a bassist (usually just someone who isn't good at guitar—lol, just kidding, bassists—kind of) and have your kid start a band. 


Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society Youth Competition

Every April, at the end of their concert season, The Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society has a season-ending festival extravaganza. As part of this festival, they have a Youth Guitar Competition. While the level of play at this competition can vary quite a bit, it may not be appropriate for younger students due to its age limits. In this competition, the "youth/junior" division allows students up to age 18 (other competitions usually cap the junior division at 14, while the "youth" division covers 14-18). 

Video Submissions and applications are due in February. Here are videos of a few past trophy winners:




PA and National Music Teacher's Association

The National Music Teacher's Association hosts one of the country's most prestigious youth music competitions. These competitions start at the state level; winners proceed to the next round. This competition has a junior division for younger students (ages 11-14). 

Note that this competition has no specific guitar category; guitarists would compete under the string division. 

Applications open in August and are due by mid-September. 


NOTE: The link is to the 2023 Competition. Be Sure to Find Up-To-Date info for planning purposes:


Guitar Foundation of America Youth Competition (NYC)

The most prestigious guitar-specific competition in the nation has a junior division open to children 14 and under and a Senior Division for children 15 and up. 

Registration typically opens in December and closes in May, with performances happening in June. 

Check Dates, as this links to the 2022 competition information:




Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival (PhMTA)

In mid-October, the PhMTA hosts the Preliminary Audition Round of the Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival. Students who receive a Superior rating in this round and pass a written theory exam with a grade of 85% or greater are invited to perform at the State Festival Showcase recital. They will be awarded a gold medal and a Certificate of Participation. 

Applications are due by mid-September


Fall Strings Play-In (GPSA)

While this October classic Suzuki-specific event focuses on the strings, there are several pieces that the Suzuki Guitarists could play along with (if using a Capo). https://gpsasuzuki.org/events/strings-play-in-22-2/


Carnegie Hall Recital (PhMTA)

Students can audition to be accepted for the Carnegie Hall Recital hosted by the Philadelphia Music Teacher's Association. Additionally, there is an honors recital for qualified students who are not accepted to perform at Carnegie Hall. 

Entry deadline is mid-January, with auditions, Carnegie Hall, and Honors concerts happening throughout late fall and spring. 


GPSA Graduation Recital

The GPSA Graduation recital is an excellent chance for students to show off their work. This concert is for students who have "graduated" from a Suzuki book and progressed approximately 30% into the following book. It is an excellent opportunity to refine a performance. 

Students submit a video performance. This performance is reviewed by a teaching board, which gives feedback. Students work with their teacher to integrate this feedback into their performance. They then participate in a dress rehearsal and final rehearsal. Students receive a trophy (which gets bigger with each level).

Video submissions are due in early January. Performances happen in mid-March. 


Student Performances at The Philadelphia Classical Guitar Festival (PCGS)

As part of their April guitar festival, students of teacher-members of the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society are invited to perform in the Student Recital. This is a great opportunity to participate in the Greater Philadelphia guitar scene. 


Suzuki Summer Institutes are an amazing combination of summer camp and intensive music training that allow students to meet kids from around the country. While there are many national events, the closest one is hosted by Baltimore's Peabody Music Prep. Peabody has one of the most renowned Classical Guitar programs in America, so one can expect a great experience here. Ages 6+ (I'm planning on taking my 6 yr old next year and will report back)

You can find the complete listing of Suzuki Summer Institutes with Guitar Programs here:



Philadelphia's Music Teacher Associations and Classical Guitar Society offer many opportunities for your child to take their playing to the next level. You may also be interested in Resources for Suzuki Students in Philadelphia and Resources for Classical Guitarists in Philadelphia

Kale Good

Educator and Founder of Good Music Academy.

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