Maria Wilson is a singer, songwriter, and a highly credentialed guitar teacher giving guitar lessons in Harrisburg – Hershey, Pennsylvania, and James Berry of FindaGuitarTeacher recently talked with her about how she teaches her guitar students, her guitar lesson fees, what she emphasizes in her guitar lessons, her guitar playing experience, and much more. You can see the video interview by visiting the Maria Wilson guitar teacher page, or you can read the transcription of her interview here in the FindaGuitarTeacher blog.
FindaGuitarTeacher: We’re here today with Maria Wilson. Maria has a profile on FindaGuitarTeacher.com. Welcome, Maria. Thanks for talking with us today.
Maria Wilson: Thank you.
FindaGuitarTeacher: It’s great to be here with you today. Can you tell us first: Where do you teach guitar? What city and what state are you in?
Maria Wilson: I am in the Harrisburg – Hershey, Pennsylvania area.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And do your guitar students come to you, or do you travel to your students homes?
Maria Wilson: They primarily come to me. Yeah, they come here to my studios; I have two studios here in my home.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And, do you teach guitar in just that one studio, or also go other places and teach guitar?
Maria Wilson: I teach here in my home, and I’m also on faculty at State Street Academy of Music in downtown Harrisburg, and I’m also on faculty at Trez Music Education Center in Mechanicsburg. which is about fifteen minutes away from here on the west shore of Mechanicsburg.
FindaGuitarTeacher: So, guitar students who want to work with you … they have three different options of where they can go to see you.
Maria Wilson: Yes, yes … It’s pretty cool.
FindaGuitarTeacher: That’s great! And, do you teach both adults and children?
Maria Wilson: Yeah. I teach ages from like six to a hundred plus, basically.
FindaGuitarTeacher: That sounds great, and can you tell us – what are the styles of guitar that people most often want to learn? Can you describe the guitar lesson climate there in Harrisburg? Do you find a lot of people looking for guitar lessons?
The Popularity of Rock Guitar Lessons and Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons
Maria Wilson: Yeah – I mean it’s pretty popular here, as far as that goes. There are a lot of other teachers within the region. I’m on the east shore of Harrisburg, which is Harrisburg, Hershey, Hummelstown, which is a really, really nice area, and so I’m one of maybe five or six (guitar) teachers in this side of the river. So, it’s (learning how to play guitar) pretty popular. I’d say the most popular guitar style that people really want to learn is rock … and then, fingerstyle guitar.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And you mentioned that there are a lot of guitar teachers around. That can be a lot of competition, but it must also speak to the fact that there are a lot of people who want to learn guitar.
Maria’s Areas of Specialization: Percussive and Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons and Reading Music
Maria Wilson: Yes. Yes. And, I specialize in fingerstyle and percussive guitar. I’m also classically trained, so I read music really well, and I’m one of the few teachers in the whole part of the state and few women teachers who can read charts on a bat … like on the fly. So, I’m a trained player … I mean, I’m totally trained and everything.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And that makes me wonder what your background is. How did you learn to play guitar?
Maria Talks About How She Learned To Play Guitar and Her Impressive Credentials
Maria Wilson: Well, I started in Brooklyn, New York. I studied with a man by the name of Frank Romeo, who went to Manhattan School of Music, and then I moved up into Pennsylvania when I was in early high school, and I studied with woman from Peabody Conservatory for about seven, seven-and-a-half years, and then I went to Duquesne University on six guitar scholarships from Fender and Martin and The Guitar Society of Foreign Arts. I’m missing something … I won a couple of women’s scholarships. So, I ended up going to guitar and bass school in Pittsburgh with, you know, Duquesne University. And, of course, touring and releasing CD’s and being published adds all into that too.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Of course. And, can you tell us a little bit about your own approach to guitar teaching. When a student comes to you … Well, I have another question first: What levels do you teach? Do you teach all levels of guitar?
Maria Wilson: Yes. Beginner to pro … master … absolutely.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Great. And when a guitar student comes to you, whether it’s a beginner or someone who’s played some before … What is your approach to teaching that person guitar?
Maria’s Guitar Teaching Approach
Maria Wilson: I basically put together a curriculum that suits their needs. I don’t work somebody in like one book and do page by page. That tends to bore people for one thing. I put together their own curriculum in a binder, and we work through materials that I’ve written, materials from other different authors. I work a lot with the internet, and I use some DVD material. I do a lot of ear training … a lot of improv.
FindaGuitarTeacher: That sounds great, and do you also write your own songs, and do you teach those songs to your students?
Maria Wilson: Some of them, I do. There’ve been a few that I’ve taught of my own, and I’ve written … I have like … probably thirty-four or thirty-five songs, twenty-two of which have been published.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Okay. I know you have a guitar there with you. Could you play a little bit of a song that you like to play … maybe one of your own songs, so that people can get a little taste of your guitar playing?
Maria Demos Her Guitar Playing with Her Song “Bay Ridge Blues”
Maria Wilson: Sure. This is one I wrote. It’s on my Generation CD. It’s called “Bay Ridge Blues Jam” – where I grew up in Brooklyn.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Bay Ridge being the neighborhood in Brooklyn, where you grew up.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And there we have it: “Bay Ridge Blues Jam” by Maria Wilson. Thank you, Maria. That was great!
Maria Wilson: Thank you.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Did you say that that was one of the songs that you would teach your students?
Maria Wilson: Yes. This one, I do teach. Yes.
FindaGuitarTeacher: That’s wonderful. So your guitar students in the Harrisburg area get a little of that Bay Ridge feeling brought to them.
Maria Wilson: Yes.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Well, that’s great. And, I was thinking as you were playing that you mentioned that you’re into a very percussive style of guitar playing, and that song certainly has that. Do you find that a lot of the songs you write have that type of feel, where it’s chords, but it’s also a very kind of rhythmic and percussive style of playing?
Maria’s Musical Influences
Maria Wilson: Yeah. I mean, I do like a combination of that – like very similar to Andy McKee, Tommy Emmanuel, Michael Hedges … And then, I cross over with finger styles … a lot of my compositions.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Got it. So, it goes back and forth between that very rhythmic style and kind of a softer fingerstyle sound.
Maria Wilson: Right. I’m very heavily influenced by Michael Hedges, Tommy Emmanuel, Jimmy Page … are my big influences.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Those are three big names … three great influences to have.
Maria Wilson: Yeah. Absolutely.
Maria’s Guitar Lesson Scheduling and Fees
FindaGuitarTeacher: Can you tell us a little bit about your guitar lessons? How long are your lessons? – One question. And how often do you meet with your guitar students?
Maria Wilson: Most of my students come for a half-hour, every week, and then I have some that come for an hour every other week, who’ve been with me awhile … who are more like intermediate and advanced … as far as that goes. And then, I have a couple of people who do forty-five minute lessons, mixed in there. Yeah … but most people take half-hour lessons.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And the people who do forty-five minute lessons … Do you see them once a week?
Maria Wilson: Every other week.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And, what are your fees, Maria?
Maria Wilson: Each place is different where I teach, as far as that goes. Here in my home studio, it’s $85 a month, and that’s for four half-hour lessons. If you go to State Street Academy of Music in downtown Harrisburg, they do it on a semester schedule, where you pay by the semester, and I’m not sure what it is, because it changes from semester to semester, because it’s a school. I mean, it’s a great place. It’s amazing. So, that’s there.
And Trez Music Education Center, they charge a hundred a month for four half-hour lessons on the West Shore. The West Shore’s a little more upscale.
Guidance in Selecting the Right Guitar
FindaGuitarTeacher: And when students come to you … certainly a beginning guitar student would be looking for a guitar, and more advanced guitar students would be looking for new guitars at some point … Do you help your students select new guitars? Do you give them guidance about that?
Maria Wilson: Yes … oh absolutely … absolutely … yes, yes!
FindaGuitarTeacher: So, you can point them in the direction of which store to go to and kind of a price range and what brands to look for?
Maria Wilson: Yeah … absolutely!
FindaGuitarTeacher: Well, that’s wonderful, Maria. We’re going to be concluding the interview in a second, but it’s great to learn more about your guitar teaching and what you’re doing there in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area.
Maria Wilson: Oh … Thank you. Thanks for having me too.
FindaGuitarTeacher: It’s a pleasure talking to you, and we look forward to seeing you on FindaGuitarTeacher very soon. Hope you have a good day.
Maria Wilson: You too! Thank you so much, James.