Many of the world's greatest guitarists, regardless of the style for which they are known, were classically trained. By studying the classical guitar, you can work on many of the aspects fundamental to a thorough knowledge of the instrument, including sight-reading, music theory, timing, and formal technique.
What we now call the classical guitar developed from the medieval lute and flourished throughout the 19th century under the mastery of such composers as Ferdinando Curulli (1770-1841), Fernando Sor (1778-1839), Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829), and Francisco Tarrega (image to right, 1854-1909). The guitar was not considered a "legitimate" instrument at the time, however, and it wasn't until the acclaimed performer Andrés Segovia (1893-1987) brought the classical guitar to international renown that the guitar was put on a par with other "classical" instruments like the violin or cello. Following in Segovia's footsteps, contemporary performers such as John Williams and Christopher Parkening continue to popularize the classical guitar, inspiring thousands to pursue the study of this beautiful instrument.
Instead of plucking the strings with a pick, as in Jazz or Rock guitar, playing classical guitar requires the use of the right hand fingers to sound the guitar strings. These are represented in classical guitar notation by the letters P (thumb), I (index), M (middle), and A (ring), indicating a particular sequence of fingers to be played. A typical classical guitar lesson includes the performance of right hand arpeggio exercises, sightreading practice, and the study of written classical guitar pieces. Many of the techniques used in the performance of classical guitar can provide a solid foundation for the study of other styles, as the nylon string guitar is not only heard in Flamenco, but a host of other Latin Jazz styles, including Bossa Nova, Samba, Tango, and quite a bit of popular music.