About the Guitar Studio

The Classical Guitar Studio at Southern Miss is one of the leading guitar departments in the region, housed within one of the leading schools of music in the region. It is headed by nationally-recognized concert artist and educator, Dr. Nicholas Ciraldo, and boasts a large number of talented students at the undergraduate and graduate level.  Students of Dr. Ciraldo have gone on to pursue graduate degrees at the New England Conservatory and the Manhattan School of Music, among others.  Students have also graduated “cum laude” and won teaching positions at various institutions around the country.

The Classical Guitar Studio focuses on creating and developing the “whole guitarist” – someone with solid technique, well-trained musicianship, keen sight-reading ability, excellent aural skills, practical foundations in teaching, well-versed knowledge of the major repertoire, and realistic perspectives on the field.  It also provides a positive approach to competition, collegiality, careers, and performance confidence.


Southern Miss offers the following degrees that allow the guitar as a concentration:

  • Bachelor of Music in String Performance
  • Bachelor of Music in Education 
  • Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies

  • Master of Music in String Performance

  • Doctor of Musical Arts in String Performance


The Jazz Guitar Studio is taught by Mr. Chris Alford of New Orleans. Through private instruction, Mr. Alford works to help guitarists develop a solid foundation in jazz including chord voicing techniques, chord melody, scales and theory, improvisation and reading. Lessons are available in tandem with classical guitar study, but space is limited.

Jazz guitar students participate in big bands and or jazz combos of various sizes to hone their skills in an ensemble setting. In addition, courses in Jazz Improvisation are available taught by Mr. Larry Panella. The four-semester sequence (required for jazz majors) begins in the fall and is open to all music majors and even non-majors. Non-jazz studies majors may choose to take first and/or first- and second-semester improvisation.

The USM Guitar Society is a university-recognized student organization.  Its goal is to promote the art of the guitar through guest artist concerts, masterclasses, student performances, and festivals.  Throughout the academic year, the USM Guitar Society holds exciting guitar-related events, regular meetings, and fund-raisers, and it always welcomes new members.

For more information, please contact club president, Jacob Gibson.  You may also contact guitar program director and faculty advisor to the guitar society, Dr. Nicholas Ciraldo.  USM Guitar Society T-shirts are available for $15 each.