Denver Guitar Orchestra

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Next Meeting:

Saturday, December 2nd from 10 am to noon at 216 South Grant Avenue. Here’s a map!

If it is your first time, you must email to let me know you’re coming.

What to Bring:

  1. Guitar
  2. Tuner
  3. Music Stand (we have a few loaners)
  4. Pencil and highlighter
  5. $10 cash or check
  6. Three-ring binder to hold Christmas music
  7. Three-ring binder to hold regular music

Music we will play this week:

  1. All Through the Night
  2. Cielito Lindo
  3. Greensleeves
  4. Happy Xmas
  5. Silver Bells
  6. White Christmas

Now, let’s talk…

It’s time to unleash your acoustic guitar from its hiding place in your closet, the garage, or your school, and put it to use in a fun city-wide ensemble. We are growing an orchestra with guitarists who understand teamwork. It’s fun and you’ll improve your skills at a much faster pace than working alone. We know two things every accomplished player does … they practice and they show up to rehearsal. If you’re willing to do those two things, we’ll bring guitar into your life in a significant way.

Our Mission: To support guitarists of all ages and skill levels willing to practice, rehearse, and work as a team in a community orchestra education program.

Are you eligible to join? You’ll need to hold a Denver Guitar Orchestra Level 2 Certification to begin ensemble work. Email us today and we’ll get you the materials you need to get started: If you are studying with a guitar teacher, ask them to contact us so we can give them the certification materials and you can test with them.

Who should probably NOT look into joining us: If you’re an accomplished guitarist who does not want to work from sheet music, or if you prefer solo playing, or if you only want to play a certain type of song, then you already know you have better options in Denver and we encourage you to seek those alternatives out.

Brown Bag Rehearsals: You must be pre-registered to attend our rehearsals. We use the word “rehearsal,” but mostly we’re just getting together to play some songs. We usually meet on Saturdays or Sundays at Historic Grant Avenue community center, but don’t just show up. We adjust the schedule frequently, we need to make sure you have the correct stuff in your book, and we don’t want to waste your time. If you don’t hold a DGO Level 2 Certification, you’ll need to get that first. Call or text 303-984-0777 or email at:

Typical Rehearsal Schedule:

  • Feel free to bring a snack.
  • We usually meet for a couple of hours.
  • $10 participation fee (cash).
  • Solos: Optional.
  • Etude: We’ll spend a few minutes on techniques.
  • Level 3 Book: Less Difficult Songs.
  • Level 4 Book: Songs Worth Mastering.
  • Level 5 & 6: Multipart Arrangements.

Song Books for Certification:

There is a small fee to cover the cost of printing and binding for the instruction books. You are required to have a copy of Books 1 and 2 prior to your first certification appointment. Please contact us at to make an appointment to get your books and discuss certification. The arrangements posted on this page do not include everything you’ll need from the instruction books. You should contact us as soon as possible so we know you’re working toward playing with the group. Certification appointments will generally last 30-60 minutes.

All our sheet music contains standard notation and tablature, chords and lyrics, and staves for straight melody playing, guitar ensemble work, and fingerstyle chord-melody performance. Dates next to the song title indicates the latest edit. You may request copies of the sheet music without tablature displayed if you prefer reading standard notation. If you need help getting up to speed on reading music, we’re happy to help you with introductory classes or private lessons.



Public Domain Guitar Arrangements
with Standard Notation and Tablature


  • Cielito Lindo (2017-10-24): PDF
  • Lavender’s Blue (2017-10-27): PDF

 Level 1
One Chord Songs

  1. Farmer in the Dell (2016-01-03) PDF
  2. Frère Jacques (2016-01-03) PDF
  3. Row Row Row Your Boat (2016-01-03) PDF
  4. Three Blind Mice (2016-01-03) PDF

Level 1 Examination:

  • Be able to tune your guitar without assistance.
  • Own a copy of Books 1 and 2.
  • Play chords while strumming and singing all songs in Book 1.
  • Play melody or guitar staves from tablature or standard notation for all songs in Book 1.

Certified Level #1

  • Frances Phillips
  • Kaya Heerman

Level 2
Two Chord Songs

  1. A-Tisket, A-Tasket (2017-02-14) PDF
  2. Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’ (2017-02-02) PDF
  3. Alouette (2017-02-02) PDF
  4. Buffalo Gals (2016-01-18) PDF
  5. Clementine (2016-01-12) PDF
  6. Drunken Sailor (2016-01-18) PDF
  7. Go Tell Aunt Rhody (2016-01-21) PDF
  8. Hush Little Baby (2016-01-10) PDF
  9. Itsy Bitsy Spider (2016-01-21) PDF
  10. London Bridge is Falling Down (2017-07-09) PDF
  11. Mary Had a Little Lamb (2017-07-09) PDF
  12. Pay Me My Money Down (2017-07-09) PDF
  13. Shortnin’ Bread (2017-07-09) PDF
  14. Simple Gifts (2017-07-09) PDF
  15. Skip to My Loo (2017-07-09) PDF
  16. Soft Kitty (2017-07-09) PDF
  17. Sur le Pont d’Avignon (2017-07-09) PDF
  18. Tom Dooley (2017-07-09) PDF
  19. Wheels on the Bus (2017-07-09) PDF

Level 2 Examination:

  • Be prepared to play chords and sing all songs in Book 2.
  • Be prepared to play melody or guitar staves from tablature or notation for all songs in Book 2.
  • Play the TuffAxe (chord-melody fingerstyle arrangement) for at least one song of your choice.


Level 3
Public Domain Songs

  1. Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman (2017-11-02) PDF
  2. All Through the Night (2017-10-19) PDF
  3. Amazing Grace (2017-02-02) PDF
  4. Beautiful Dreamer
  5. Brahm’s Lullabye (2017-11-07) PDF
  6. Colorado Trail (2017-11-07) PDF
  7. Down by the Riverside (Feb. 19, 2017)
  8. Down in the Valley
  9. For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow
  10. Fur Elise
  11. Happy Birthday (2017-10-06) PDF
  12. Heidenroslein
  13. I’m a Little Teapot
  14. Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair
  15. Plaisir d’Amour
  16. Scarborough Fair (2017-11-08) PDF
  17. Spanish Romance
  18. Streets of Laredo
  19. This Old Man
  20. Trumpet Voluntary
  21. Waltzing Matilda

Level 3 Examination:

  • Be prepared to play chords and sing all songs in Book 3.
  • Be prepared to play melody from tablature or notation for all songs in Book 3.
  • Play TuffAxe on three pre-selected songs.


Level 4
Iconic Songs

(Probably Worth Memorizing)

These are not public domain for the most part, so you must email me for the song sheets.

  1. America the Beautiful (Feb. 2, 2017)
  2. Andante in G by Carulli
  3. As Time Goes By
  4. Blackbird
  5. Blowing in the Wind
  6. Daisy Bell
  7. Danny Boy
  8. Eidelweiss
  9. Eleanor Rigby
  10. Ghost Riders
  11. Godfather Theme
  12. Home on the Range
  13. House of the Rising Sun
  14. Imagine
  15. Internationale
  16. La Vie en Rose
  17. Lara’s Theme
  18. Last Rose of Summer
  19. Love Me Tender
  20. Malagueña
  21. Minstrel Boy
  22. Moon River
  23. Morning Has Broken
  24. Over the Rainbow
  25. Singing in the Rain
  26. Smile
  27. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
  28. Sound of Silence
  29. Summertime
  30. This Land is Your Land
  31. Three Little Birds
  32. Traumeri
  33. Try to Remember
  34. What a Wonderful World
  35. When You Wish Upon a Star
  36. Wonderful Tonight

This is preliminary. We anticipate having approximately 100 songs in Book 4. Help us decide what is worth memorizing.

Level 4 Examination:

  • Play at least two songs in small ensemble with assigned parts.
  • Play TuffAxe on three new pre-selected songs.
  • One of the three chosen TuffAxe presentations must be memorized.

Level 5

Multipart Arrangements

These are not public domain for the most part, so you must email me for the song sheets.

  1. Annie’s Song
  2. Both Sides Now (Jan. 9, 2017)
  3. Disney Unto Death
  4. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
  5. El Paso
  6. Elvis Medley
  7. From a Distance
  8. Good Bad Ugly
  9. Hedwig’s Theme
  10. I’m on Fire
  11. Love Story Theme
  12. Mad World
  13. Pachelbel’s Canon
  14. Pomp and Circumstances
  15. Sweet Caroline
  16. Time After Time
  17. True Colors

This is the current list. It will never be finished.

Level 5 Examination:

  • Play in small ensemble with pre-selected music.
  • Play TuffAxe on two memorized songs.
  • Play in large ensemble with standard repertoire.

Level 6

Member Created Arrangements

  • Musician driven.
  • Perform in small ensemble.
  • Perform a memorized solo for audience.
  • Perform in large ensemble.
  • Performance examination.

Level 7

Teacher Certification

  • Complete teacher training
  • Taught through level 5

Book 8

Strumming Song Sheets

Songs we’ve vetted with lyrics and chords only. To be honest, they’re mostly dumb songs we don’t want to put real effort into developing, but somebody thought they were cool.

Book 9


DGO Etudes Book! Right and Left Hand Warm-ups

The DGO Etudes Book! contains useful exercises gleaned from the history of guitar pedagogy to help you develop deft left and right hand skills. We recommend you use these etudes during the first part of your practice to warm up your hands.

  • First Bacarolle (D-shape arpeggios up the neck.)
  • Download additional practice logs HERE.
  • Download the composing blank HERE.

Etudes are intended as warm-ups prior to repertoire playing. Etudes never end and  can be a lot of fun if your attitude is right. We’re looking to swipe good ones you’ve found around the world.

Christmas Songs
with a bit o’ Hannukah

If there is no PDF, it’s not a public domain song, so we can chat about it on email.

  1. Adeste Fideles (Nov. 24, 2016): PDF
  2. Angels We Have Heard on High (Oct. 13, 2015): PDF
  3. Away in a Manger (2017-11-04) PDF
  4. Auld Lang Syne (Oct. 24, 2016): PDF
  5. Dreidel Song (2017-11-06) PDF
  6. Entre le Boeuf et l’Ane Gris (2015-09-28)
  7. First Noel (Sept. 9, 2015): PDF
  8. Greensleeves (2017-11-18): PDF
  9. Happy Christmas (War is Over) (2016-12-12)
  10. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Aug. 14, 2016): PDF
  11. Joy to the World (Dec. 18, 2016) PDF
  12. Ner Li: I Have a Candle (2017-11-12) PDF
  13. O Come O Come Emmanuel (Sept. 14, 2015): PDF
  14. Silent Night (Sept. 12, 2016): PDF
  15. Silver Bells (Oct. 13, 2015)
  16. Up on the House Top (Sept. 25, 2016): PDF
  17. We Three Kings (Sept. 25, 2016): PDF
  18. We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Oct. 27, 2014): PDF
  19. White Christmas (Nov. 21, 2016)

Just for Fun

Videos from Other Guitar Orchestras


Everything below here is for teachers

You can stop reading. 🙂

Orchestra Examinations:

  • Pre-test to assure readiness.
  • Performance skills test.
  • “Pre-selections” must be approved by examiner.
  • Material used in a lower level may not be duplicated in a higher level.
  • You are not judged on your singing ability (thank goodness!), but you are required to do it.
  • Use of sheet music is always acceptable unless a skill is to be memorized.
  • Oral examination.
  • Written score card with next steps.
  • Receive graduation certificate.

Level 1:

  • Demonstrate memorized chords A, E, D, G.
  • Play all four songs with voice and chords.
  • Play all four melodies using tablature or notation.
  • Discussion on posture and theory.
  • Written plan for Book 2.

Level 2

  • Demonstrate memorized chords.
  • Play songs with voice and chords.
  • Play TuffUke of one song.
  • Play melodies using tablature or notation.
  • Discussion on posture and theory.
  • Written plan for Book 3.

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

Level 6

Level 7

Guitar Ensemble Arrangements

  • One guitar (melody or chords with voice)
  • Two guitars (melody and chords)
  • Three guitars (melody, chords, tuff or arpeggio)
  • Four guitars (melody, chords, tuff, arpeggio)
  • Five guitars (melody, chords, tuff, arpeggio, bassline)
  • Six guitars (melody, chords, tuff, arpeggio, bassline, percussion)

Guitar Foundation of America Standards we are striving to meet:

  1. DGO is built on a “classical” guitar foundation and includes varied musical styles within our curriculum.
  2. DGO recommends nylon string guitars when playing classical repertoire, and encourages the use of most acoustic guitars.
  3. DGO recommends sitting in an ergonomic position that promotes good posture and easy access to the guitar for both left and right hands. A footstool or other device may be used to position the guitar in the most efficient position.
  4. DGO encourages the use both hands in a manner that prevents injury in part by avoiding extreme extension and/or flexion of the wrist.
  5. DGO teaches playing with attention to minimal tension.  Students should learn to play without using unnecessary muscles to perform a task.
  6. All sheet music is prepared with traditional staff notation, along with tablature and chord charts.
  7. We are working to have our well-sequenced curriculum aligned to the standards published by the Colorado Department of Education to ensure it fulfills national standards.
  8. We learn repertoire from various musical periods and genres.  Modern and historic performance practice are be addressed.
  9. We’re seeking opportunities to participate in local, state, regional, and national music festivals (district competitions, state competitions, festivals, conventions, etc.).
  10. We have a library of solo and ensemble guitar music.
  11. We have access to high quality instruments, replacement strings and tools for necessary repairs.
  12. We are seeking to participate in outreach performances.
  13. We use proper right-hand finger-style technique for repertoire composed for this technique.

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