The SDML Synthesis Certification Program is for serious guitar players who are looking for professional credentials based on objective standards for playing guitar, but without requiring the extraordinary time and monetary expense of a standard 4-year music degree.
How Does It Work?
To obtain certification, students must pass the exam in person for whichever level they're pursuing. The curriculum comprises carefully selected aspects of comprehension and application of interrelated components of guitar play and performance.
Generally speaking, only students under the direct guidance of an SDML instructor will take these tests, although they are open to the general public. When you feel you're ready, you'll schedule a testing session with a Senior Instructor (or above) who is not your direct teacher.
A perfect score is required in order to pass the test and receive certification. The reason for this is that if a component is not essential, then it's not included on the test. This ensures that all criteria is objective and uniform across the board.
Synthesis consists of four levels of certification:
Utility (Level 1)
Guitarists who achieve the "Synthesis Utility Certification" are equipped with the skills for entry-level jobs in the professional field. These players have command of enough chords, scales, and techniques, as well as a variety of songs in their repertoire and a fundamental understanding of basic music theory to earn income and pursue work as performers, songwriters, studio musicians and accompanists.
Competency (Level 2)
The "Synthesis Competency Certification" signifies that a guitarist has the necessary skills for earning a living in the music industry as a professional player.
These artists are familiar with dozens of chords across the fretboard, have the ability to quickly learn and compose songs across a variety of genres and styles in any musical key, and perform improvisational works.
They are also equipped with a solid understanding of the foundation of music theory as applied to guitar, including multiple scales played at performance speed, awareness of the function of musical modes, the ability to read and play using lead sheets and numbered chord charts and a variety of standard rhythmic applications.
This level is also the minimum certification requirement for players to apply for the ICAT program for prospective Certified SDML Instructors.
Proficiency (Level 3)
In addition to all the above criteria, in order to pass the test for the "Synthesis Proficiency Certification," guitarists must perform at a very high level in terms of speed and fluidity of play. Requirements include the ability to assimilate chordal and scalar approaches into a unified delivery, capitalizing on opportunities afforded by multiple variations of chord progressions.
Players at this degree have access to hundreds of chords and variants, played in dozens of contexts, and the ability to quickly analyze musical pieces across the spectrum of genres in order to apply their knowledge in a logical and creative fashion.
These guitarists have strong mechanical and kinesthetic awareness and development, allowing for high levels of ability in strenuous playing scenarios and situations. They have conditioned their physical and mental abilities to surpass those of average professionals, and are ready to take on most jobs and tasks playing guitar at the upper levels of the industry.
Expertise (Level 4)
As implied by the title, guitarists who achieve the status afforded by the "Synthesis Expertise Certification" are truly expert players, positioned for high esteem at the top of the musical field. Armed with the speed and dexterity typically requiring years of dedicated conditioning, and a deep understanding of music theory derived from a structured focus on studying its vast intricacies, these artists have mastered most abilities available to a guitarist and are able to exploit them at the highest echelons.
Relatively few guitarists ever reach this level of ability in their careers, as the criteria required rivals the material expected of the elite music schools in the accredited academic community. Anyone with this certification is capable of performing in virtually any musical scenario where professional-grade guitar skills are needed.