“Guitar is the best form of self-expression I know. Everything else, and I'm just sort of tripping around, trying to figure my way through life.” - Slash

The guitar is the most popular instrument played across the world - and it's easy to see why! It's effective, simple to start playing and much more affordable than a piano or double bass. No need to attend a conservatorium or music school to get started - you can pick up a few basic chords in no time, get strumming and make music with your friends in a matter of weeks.

Case in point - not sure where to put your hand on the fret to play that tricky chord? Curious about which fingers to use to play scales? There is now a wealth of resources on YouTube helping you tackle any guitar hangup you might have.

But what about young guitarists who truly want to take their guitar technique to the next level? If you dream of honing your guitar technique and becoming a well-rounded musician, or hope to study music at university one day, you should consider studying guitar in years 11 and 12.

Depending on your state, this could mean taking HSC Music 1 or Music 2 in Years 11 or 12, or VCE Music Performance Units 1, 2, 3 and 4 across your last two years of high school. Because a majority of Australian students live in New South Wales or Victoria, we'll be focusing on those two state curriculums in this article, but much of the information here will be relevant to you, wherever you live in Australia.

If you're a student who is strapped for cash, don't forget to check out our article on learning to play the guitar for free.

Studying HSC Music or VCE Music

Studying music for your final years of high school is the obvious route for young musicians wanting to study music at university. Whilst most university courses also require an audition, many also require that applicants have completed HSC or VCE music, and some also only accept applicants who have achieved a minimum grade in their music subjects.

For guitarists, studying music in your final years of high school won't mean an individualised guitar tutorial in every class, but it will mean time to practice regularly, music theory classes, feedback on your performance skills and honing your overall musicianship with dedicated teachers and other motivated music students.

study music at university
HSC or VCE music can open the door to a music degree. (Source: greymatters)

Unless you have passed AMEB Music exams in the past, graduating from HSC or VCE Music will be your first official qualification in music. You'll generally be tested in performance, aural skills and music theory and graded on your playing, your understanding of music and your listening. There may also be an option to give presentations on music theory or present your own compositions to the exam board.

Studying music in Years 11 and 12 isn't easy all these exams and performances can be stressful! But it's the good kind of stress that challenges you and prepares you for studying music at university, or for a career in music performance. Not to mention that HSC or VCE music is a great way to improve your playing.

Whether you play electric or acoustic guitar, look up online guitar lessons on Superprof.

Benefits To Playing Music In High School

Studying music at the HSC or VCE level is a necessary step for your future studies or career as a performer, but there are also lots of other major benefits you might not have considered.

Let's take a look at the overall benefits of studying HSC or VCE music.

  • You can solidify the basics of learning your instrument (fingerpicking the strings, pick out notes and melodies, learning chords)
  • You can explore and refine your sound as a musician and composer and present your own songs
  • You can try out new genres of music, such as moving into classical guitar if you've only played rock 'n' roll before, or exploring jazz harmonies
  • You can pick up a second instrument
  • You can try performing in a group if you've only done solo work before, or vice versa
  • You'll benefit from learning from professional musicians and talented music teachers
  • You can improve your overall understanding of music - this includes learning music theory, chord theory and aural skills
  • You'll meet other people who are just as passionate about music as you are!
  • You can learn to sing along with your guitar playing and become a holistic musician who can tackle any song!
  • You can learn music history
  • You can get used to performing live

Even if you're not sure what you want to study at university, studying music at the HSC or VCE Level will give you musical skills that will benefit you for life. Luckily, you already play one of the most portable and adaptable instruments - the guitar! 

Study The Guitar Through Your HSC or VCE

So what's use of studying the guitar in Years 11 and 12 in particular?

As we've mentioned before, taking a music class will help you go beyond your one-on-one guitar classes. In music class, you'll truly have the opportunity to become a well-rounded musician and by learning more about music in general. You'll be studying alongside passionate young musicians playing a variety of different instruments. A typical class could have students playing piano, percussion, accordion, violin, double bass, saxophone, trumpet...

The guitar is a brilliantly adaptable instrument - you can shine solo or in a group. Taking HSC or VCE music will allow you to collaborate on performances with other musicians in your class, or learn to accompany a singer. You can also strut your stuff by performing on guitar and voice at the same time, or even present a song you wrote!

Studying music for your VCE or HSC
Study a variety of musical genres and techniques with HSC and VCE music! (Source: Free-Photos)

Nothing is better than a well-rounded, independent musician who can sing and play at the same time!

Most students who undertake music study at the HSC or VCE level will also take weekly instrumental lessons with a private tutor. If you haven't found your perfect private tutor yet, you might consider checking out the talented tutors listed on Superprof!

Your tutor can also help you refine your understanding of harmony, melody, arranging, and many other musical concepts, and support you to study for your aural and music theory exams.

Music classes at school will be group classes with other musicians. We've already covered the benefits of learning with other like-minded players. 

Weekly private lessons are the perfect complement to your group classes at school. Through Superprof, you'll also be able to seek out a tutor who specialises in your genre - be it classical music, chamber music, jazz, Spanish guitar, rock, folk...

For students on a budget, you can also benefit from free and cheap guitar lessons.

Become A Better Guitarist And Musician - And Enjoy Your Studies!

One of the greatest advantage to studying music at high school is opening your mind to new genres and finding new opportunities to collaborate with other young musicians. You'll learn so much from these collaborations - experiences that you simply can't get in individual lessons.

Study music at university
Express your creativity by playing the guitar through HSC and VCE music. (Source: Pexels)

There's no denying it - the last couple years of school are stressful for all students, whether you are pursuing studies in maths, English, the sciences, or music. Luckily, playing an instrument has been shown to lower stress levels and improve overall mental health and wellbeing. 

Practising the guitar won't just help you pass your exams, it's also a great way to chill out during this particularly high-pressure period of your life.

Whether you're an experienced guitarist or still a beginner, playing the guitar will help you relax, think more creatively, improve your overall musical knowledge and help you pass your HSC or VCE exams. And through the one or two years of study, you'll get ongoing support from your high school teacher alongside any tutorials with a private tutor.

With access sheet music, a stimulating and inspiring study cohort, a great teacher and a challenging and nurturing environment, you'll see a huge improvement in your musicianship in just two years.

Studying guitar through your school
Improve as a guitarist by challenging yourself with HSC or VCE music. (Source: coyot)

Inspired to study music at the HSC or VCE level, but haven't yet picked up a guitar? The best way to get started is with a private tutor. They can show you where to put each finger and how to find the right string for a particular note or chord. Superprof can put you in touch with instrumental tutors of all kinds - whether you want to learn the guitar, or pick up the flute, ukulele, cello, keyboard, clarinet or saxophone.

With individualised classes, you can broaden your repertoire, prepare for an audition, get ready to study music in years 11 or 12 or prepare for a university audition!

Superprof also lists tutors for musicians of all levels. Through our platform, you can find instrumental workshops, advanced masterclasses, online tutorials via webcam or specialised classes in ear training, music theory or music history.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to Superprof and find your perfect guitar tutor today!

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Erin

Erin is an Australian musician, writer and francophile living in France.