Tavi Jinariu, Classical Guitarist & Educator

Tavi Jinariu playing Concierto de Aranjuez
Tavi Jinariu playing Concierto de Aranjuez

“Tavi is an excellent classical guitarist whose fine technique, combined with depth of feeling communicates wonderfully to his audience. His strengths are considerable, among which are a deep love for the guitar, remarkable discipline and motivation, and good musical instincts that give him advanced abilities to interpret the music.”

                                                               Christopher Parkening, America’s preeminent guitar virtuoso

It’s All About People

Teaching guitar has always been about people. The joy that comes from seeing my 85-year-old student produce a clear sounding bar chord can hardly be quantified. The empowering impact the guitar can have on a withdrawn teenager or its ability to help someone who is going through a rough patch, is what makes playing and teaching the guitar worthwhile. It is ultimately about people and not about the guitar itself; the guitar without people becomes nothing more than a strung up piece of furniture. In my own experience, I forgot most of the actual notes my mentors played on the guitar, but their personal impact on my life is indelible.

The Humble Beginnings

I started playing the guitar at the age of thirteen when my father told me that I needed to have an extra curricular activity. In a slow vocal cadence he told me that I had to choose between Romanian folk dancing and playing the guitar. Somehow, the prospect of wearing leggings and jumping around in awkward musical movements did not sound that enticing to a thirteen-year-old skinny boy. So, I guess it had to be the guitar. From the first encounter with the guitar I resonated with the instrument. I loved the way it felt underneath my fingertips (yes, even when they were throbbing with pain) and loved the sensation of strings as I plucked them. A few years prior to this I had tried to play the accordion at the insistence of my father but failed miserably. However, I had always been charmed by the guitar. My uncle was a guitarist and I remember that as a young child I snuck into his bedroom and strummed the guitar with all my might, only to then run away as fast as I could in hopes of evading the repercussions.

I began playing the guitar in the church’s children choir. I was fascinated by any guitarist, no matter what style he or she was playing. I became a sponge absorbing every solo line I could from Joe Satriani and every interesting chord from George Benson. My journey with the guitar took a significant turn at the age of sixteen when, for the first time, I heard the lush tones of a classical guitar. The guitarist played for me Lauro’s Natalia waltz. I was struck 3 seconds into the piece by the natural harmonic played on the second string. “The tone, the tone, the tone!” was what I kept on saying to myself. I knew it right then and there that I had to play the classical guitar.

There was no classical guitar teacher in my hometown and my friend Rares, at that time a conservatory student in Germany, began teaching me to play the instrument whenever he visited Romania during his school breaks. Without much supervision I was largely self-taught and, as one can imagine, I had developed many poor playing and practicing habits. But who cared? I loved playing it and there was nobody else in my hometown who played the classical guitar that I had to worry about impressing. I began devoting every minute I had to the study of the guitar. I began thinking about guitar playing all the time and was solfeging every musical piece I knew. I was now customarily practicing bar chords using my right forearm as a pseudo-guitar fretboard. It started to get a bit out of hand but the guitar world was a great escape for me, otherwise a shy and rather withdrawn boy.

A year later I was invited to tour the US with a band from Hungary. During this tour I played a composition on the classical guitar with some flamenco influences; nothing really to brag about. Perhaps it is helpful to mention I had to borrow a guitar for this tour as my parents could not afford to purchase one. It was during this tour that a kind gentleman gave me a Yamaha classical guitar that he stored in his closet and had never used. Humble beginnings are wonderful, and I mention this in hopes that you would be encouraged to press on regardless of your own humble beginnings and limited options. It is amazing to consider the opportunities that came from nowhere, opportunities  that brought a poor gypsy boy from Romania to tour half of America.

The Influences of Segovia and Parkening

Christopher Parkening and Tavi - The Master and The Student
The Segovia Legacy

It was during this U.S. tour that a kind hearted lady named Janice recorded one of the concerts and sent that recording to various classical guitarists in the U.S. One of those recordings got into the hands of the American guitar virtuoso and now wonderful friend, Christopher Parkening. Upon my return to Romania, he kindly surprised me by sending me an encouraging letter, cassettes and a bunch of sheet music. This initial contact would turn out to be a life-altering event. I was on my way to going into law but I was now inspired more than ever to pursue excellence in playing the classical guitar.

Over the coming months I recorded myself playing and sent the recordings to Christopher Parkening. He provided brief but valuable advice on hand positioning, nail shape, repertoire choices and so on. After a few months I told him that I would very much like to study the classical guitar but that prospect would be very unlikely in my country as there was virtually no guitar tradition. Parkening kindly mediated a deal whereby he would become the guitar chair at the Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA if the college would financially make it possible for me me to study there under his tutelage. The deal went through and everybody won. The college now had the world’s preeminent classical guitarist chairing the guitar department of 1 student. I also won big time by becoming the one student in the department. As for Christopher Parkening, actually I am not sure what he won; not very much at all, as he even returned his paychecks to the Master’s College. This act of generosity eventually transitioned into a guitar student grant that is awarded each year. I was also fortunate to study under the instruction of John Nelson, Christopher Parkening’s associate. John also made a deep impact on my guitar playing as well as my personal development.

Teaching Goals

EliteGuitarist Tavi JinariuIn 2003 I graduated from the Master’s College with a degree in classical guitar performance. After graduating college I became interested in other fields of study. I pursued and received graduate degrees in theology and classical philology. Throughout all these alternative pursuits, the guitar remained a constant companion and I found myself over and over gravitating towards it. Over the years I became increasingly busy with my performance schedule and decided to accept the Master’s College invitation to chair their classical guitar department in 2009. I have also enjoyed privately teaching a broad range of students over the years ranging from 5 to 85 years old, ranging from absolute beginners to advanced students seeking admittance into various graduate guitar programs across the country. Teaching is enjoyable and rewarding because I get to see the musical transformation taking place in my students, their increased enjoyment of life and their personal development.

It is the same passion for people that led me to start EliteGuitarist.com The guitar is meant to help and better people. Over the years I have become increasingly dissatisfied with the current state of the classical guitar and how cliquish it has become. Unlike the times of Segovia, Williams, Bream and Parkening the guitar is now generally isolated to competition stages and guitar festivals. Guitarists these days play for other guitarists and the beauty of the classical guitar has little appeal to the general musical community.  

My goal is to enlarge the community of the classical guitar and provide teaching that would draw players of other styles into taking up this wonderful instrument. My approach to teaching the guitar is steeped in the musical traditions of Andres Segovia and Christopher Parkening while at the same time it embraces the current trends in technical development and repertoire. For the guitar to again find a prominent place on the large concert stages of the world, guitarists need to adopt a different approach to playing the instrument. It is not enough to play it with a clinical and immaculate technique; we need to play the instrument beautifully. It is not the technical aspect of the guitar that appeals to me but rather it’s beauty. Andres Segovia said “The beauty of the guitar lies in its soft and persuasive voice and its beauty cannot be equaled by any other instrument.” If you are ready to approach your playing of the classical guitar in the same way, welcome to http://www.EliteGuitarist.com. It is great to have you here!



New Tutorial – Antonio Lauro’s Vals Venezolano No. 3 (Natalia)

EliteGuitarist Tutorial Natalia Lauro

Natalia (Vals Venezolano No. 3) by Antonio Lauro is a beloved standard in the classical guitar repertoire and one of the most requested pieces from our students. This piece is full of life and color and combines Strauss-like waltzes with South American syncopated rhythms. Check out the note for note tutorial, grab your guitars and let’s get to work! Also, check out the general practice tips tucked away in the tutorial segments; these might just set you up for some great progress.

Guitar: 2018 Jake Fuller “Purnell”, courtesy of Guitar Salon International

New Tutorial: Girl With the Flaxen Hair

Kevin Enstrom Girl with Flaxen Hair Debussy

‘The Girl with the Flaxen Hair’ is known for its musical simplicity and is one of Debussy’s most recorded pieces, both in its original version and in subsequent various arrangements.The guitar arrangement is one of the few arrangements that accurately renders Debussy’s compositional genius. Something is often lost in transcribing a piece originally written for the piano to the guitar but in this case the arrangement is fluid and guitaristic in approach.

Check out Kevin Enstrom’s soulful playing of this piece and detailed tutorial. Grab your guitars and let’s practice, people!

Guitar Used for Tutorial: 1987 Manuel Velazquez, Courtesy of Guitar Salon International


Scott Tennant Album Release
We would like to congratulate Scott Tennant on the release of his latest album with the compositions of Andres Segovia. Taso and Tavi alongside Andrew York, the Park Brothers and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, joined Scott Tennant in a concert celebrating the completion of this wonderful recording. Check out the blog posting on the GSI website and enjoy the photos. It was a wonderful evening of music making on a very special guitar, namely, Segovia’s own 1969 Ramirez.


Ines Thome: Status Update
Many of you inquired about Ines Thome and her relationship to EliteGuitarist. Upon her graduating with a doctoral degree from USC, Ines and her husband Michael both accepted teaching appointments in Ohio. We were sad to see them leave Southern California but we are so excited to see how their individual careers are developing. Ines and Michael are expecting their first child who is due to arrive any day now. We miss Ines sorely and, with regards to her playing and pedagogical proficiency, she is irreplaceable. We can’t wait to have Ines back recording and teaching again, as soon as they get a bit more settled in their new family routine.

Ines Thome EliteGuitarist


Jazz Tutorials:
* Falling in Love with Love – Larry Koonse
* Alone Together – Larry Koonse
* Giant Steps – Larry Koonse

Classical Tutorials:
* Gavotte En Rondeau – Taso Comanescu
* Malaguena – Tavi Jinariu
* Farewell – Tavi Jinariu
* Natalia (Valse Venezolano) – Tavi Jinariu
* Andaluza (Granados’ Spanish Dance #5) – Kevin Enstrom

Torija by Torroba – Classical Guitar Tutorial

Torija Elite Guitarist Online Guitar lessons

If you are a subscriber to our Classical Track, your subscription just went up in value with the addition the new Torija tutorial taught by Kevin Enstrom! If you are one of our Jazz Track subscribers, don’t feel left out; we have tons of new material we are going to add in the next few weeks.

Torroba’s ‘Castillos de España’ is a set of brief pieces that take the listener on a musical tour of Spain’s famous castles. The Torija castle is located just off the road between Madrid and Barcelona. This piece is a reflective, introspective musical depiction of Torija and in this tutorial instructor Kevin Enstrom shares all the secrets of the trade that help bring this piece to life. From phrasing insights, to slight variations of the tempo and dynamics you will be able to transport your listeners to the wonderful Torija castle.

Guitar: 1987 Manuel Velazquez, courtesy of Guitar Salon International

Kevin Enstrom EliteGuitarist Online Classical Guitar lessons

In this brief video Kevin Enstrom recounts his beginnings with the classical guitar and offers words of encouragement for those who have undertaken the classical guitar journey. Check out his biographical sketch.

2018 EliteGuitarist Year In Review

This is why we play the guitar! Check out the video below and why the guitar is a magical instrument to us.

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New Classical Track Website & Tutorials

In 2018 we released 25 tutorials of some of the most beloved pieces in the classical guitar repertoire.
As our library of resources continues to grow, we have updated our website to include expanded search capabilities.
At your request, we implemented PayPal as a subscription payment option.
You can now insert your comments on the page of the video tutorials and enjoy the input of other guitarists. This is a new function that we have implemented in our website and we think it will help connect various subscribing students in more tangible ways.

New Website Layout


Tutorial Library

New Comprehensive Jazz Guitar Track

Check out the comprehensive jazz guitar track taught by Larry Koonse, twice Grammy-nominated artist. This site deals comprehensively with all vital jazz concepts, music theory and contains insightful note for note repertoire tutorials suitable for all type of guitarists, including classical players.

Jazz EliteGuitarist

Jazz Guitar Track

EliteGuitarist Jazz

Jazz Guitar Tutorials

EliteGuitarist Instructors

We want to extend a word of thanks to our wonderful instructors for their generosity in teaching, for their commitment to excellence and dedication to the promotion of music in general and the guitar in particular. Check out these videos in which each instructor talks about their beginnings with the instrument. These are the elements that make the guitar a magical instrument, in our opinions.

Tavi Jinariu

Tavi Jinariu Classical Guitarist EliteGuitarist

Check out Tavi’s performance of Natalia (Valse Venezolano No. 3) by Antonio Lauro.

Taso Comanescu

Taso Comanescu EliteGuitarist Online Classical Guitar Lessons

Check out Taso’s performance of Serenata Espanola by Joaquin Malats.

Kevin Enstrom

Kevin Enstrom EliteGuitarist Online Classical Guitar lessons

Check out some additional performances by Kevin Enstrom. Allegro by J.S. Bach & The Girl with the Flaxen Hair by Claude Debussy

Larry Koonse

Larry Koonse EliteGuitarist Online Jazz Guitar Lessons

Check out this performance by Larry Koonse

All The Things You Are – Jazz Guitar Tutorial

All The Things You Are EliteGuitarist

We are excited to release a new jazz repertoire tutorial. In this tutorial Larry Koonse spends nearly 2 hours dealing with the mechanics of playing this arrangement, comping ideas, fingering and interpretive principles. The tutorial is organized and taught in such a way that fingerstyle guitarists of various backgrounds can benefit from it. Check it out at www.EliteGuitarist.com 

New EliteGuitarist Jazz Track Website

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The Jazz Track segment of the EliteGuitarist website just received a major makeover. Check out the new website layout and capabilities. Larry Koonse, a twice-Grammy award nominated artist, has recorded some amazing tutorials dealing with Jazz theory and repertoire. In the future we will release 5 different tutorials of well-known American standards. Stay tuned for these performance tutorials suitable not only to jazz guitarist but any fingerstyle guitarist wanting to play jazz.

Barrios Valse Opus 8 No. 3 – Guitar Tutorial

Elite Guitarist Tutorial Classical Guitar Vals Op. 8 No. 3

Here is a new tutorial by Taso Comanescu playing and teaching Augustin Barrios’ Vals Op. 8 No. 3. Taso’s soulful performance of this piece has become my favorite version of this piece. The tutorial displays a deep understanding of the piece, provides tons of performance pointers, focuses on phrasing details and is a wealth of fingering principles. Augustin Barrios Mangore is one of the most prolific classical guitar composers. As a performing guitarist himself, Barrios wrote with a deep understanding of guitar technique and pushed the technical boundaries of the classical guitar repertoire further than ever before. Check out this great tutorial, suitable for intermediate-advanced level students.

Guitar: 2018 Dominik Wurth, courtesy of Guitar Salon International

Carcassi Opus 60 No. 7 – Guitar Tutorial

EliteGuitarist Carcassi No. 7 Performance Preview

Carcassi’s study Opus 60 No. 7 is a standard in the classical guitar repertoire. Far from being a mere exercise in dexterity, this piece offers ample opportunities for phrasing development, chord formation, tremolo practice, as well as dynamic and tonal variations. Dr. Ines Thome insightfully deals with each of these performance aspects and enlarges the EliteGuitarist library of resources with a another great tutorial.

Thanks to our friends at Guitar Salon International for loaning us this 2018 German Vazquez Rubio guitar.


Congratulations Dr. Ines Thome!

Ines high res 3

We would like to publicly congratulate Dr. Ines Thome for successfully passing her comprehensive examinations for the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Southern California. Ines is a rare combination of a great performer and a superb pedagog of the classical guitar and we are so happy to have her as one of our instructors. Ines is preparing for her final recital in November 2018 and we are cheering her on as she showcases the amazing guitarist she has become over these many arduous years of practice.

Ines is available for private lessons both in-person and on Skype. Check out her website for more details and to inquire about private lessons.

Upcoming Projects

These are busy days for us as we are working on several new projects. Over the next several weeks we will release tutorials of Barrios’ Waltz No. 3 in D Minor, Granados Spanish Dance #5 (Andaluza), Farewell by Sergio Assad and others.

We are also working on adding several amazing tutorials to the jazz track. Grammy award guitarist, Larry Koonse, has arranged several jazz standards for solo guitar that are some of the best we have heard. These tutorials are detailed and packed with all the necessary information to perform these pieces like the professionals do.

TANGO EN SKAI – Guitar Tutorial

New Tutorial – Tango En Skai by Roland Dyens

EliteGuitarist Classical Guitar Tutorial Tango En Skai

Over the past year we have received so many requests for a tutorial of Tango En Skai by Roland Dyens. I finally got around to record this wonderful piece and can’t wait to see how you, our students, will take this iconic piece to the next performance level.

Roland Dyens’ ‘Tango En Skai‘ is a favorite of audiences worldwide. This flamboyant piece, with its engaging rhythms and ostentatious runs, invites the guitarist to use virtually every technique and sound the classical guitar can produce. Get ready for a technical and musical hike. After slow and careful practice, once you get to the proverbial top of the mountain the view is pretty awesome and the musical rewards are great.

Guitar: 2010 Jose Luis Gil, courtesy of Guitar Salon International

Missing Roland Dyens

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I often wonder why the passing of significant artists, especially guitarists, has such a deep impact on me. In the case of Roland Dyens, his guitar artistry has been an important formative force in my development as a guitarist and his compositions/arrangements have left an indelible mark on the way I analyze and enjoy music. I suppose it is normal to feel a deep sense of loss when such an artist dies even thou the relational connection may be at the level of acquaintances. Over the years I have internalized his music to such an extent that in a very real sense I feel a deep level of connection with him, even though we only met once.

Several years ago, as Roland Dyens was touring throughout Southern California, Guitar Salon International organized a master class with the maestro. I have always wanted to take a lesson from Roland and this was the perfect opportunity. I am so glad I did and got a chance to interact with Roland shortly before his passing. I was so musically enriched by Roland and these are some things that stand out to me as I recall that special time.

Roland had a contagious enjoyment of music and enjoyed trying to get in the composer’s mind. Unlike most classical musicians, he was incredibly relaxed with the score and made statements of the sort: “the composition is not completed until you, the guitarist, perform it.” He was warm and kind and there was no air of superiority or egotism in his instruction. He focused fully on his students and instructed with generosity of heart and winsomeness. As I recorded this tutorial, I am again reminded of how much I miss Roland. Let’s keep his memory alive by enjoying and playing the vast amount of music he left for us.


Guitar Nails: Shape, Repair, Tone

Guitar Nails: a riddle wrapped in an enigma. One size does not fit all but here is Tavi Jinariu’s approach to filing and repairing nails for optimum tonal quality.

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Many of you have been requesting a tutorial on how to properly file your nails and achieve great tone. Playing with great tone is a combination of careful nail filing/polishing and plucking technique.

These may be the strangest videos you have seen on www.EliteGuitarist.com to date. If you can deal with the weirdness of watching a dude file his nails for 10 minutes straight, you will likely derive some benefit from these general nail-filing principles. In the end, if we cannot make it in this world as concert guitarists, surely we stand a chance to open some of the best nail salons in town.


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The second aspect to achieving great tone, beyond your nails shape and polish, is your plucking technique. Check out these two videos on tone production for proper plucking technique and general tone production principles.

Keep up the good work everyone! We have several tutorials in the editing stages and I am excited to release those in the coming couple of weeks (Tango En Skai, Valse 3 by Barrios, Farewell by John Doan, Carcassi Etude)