Out of the garage and into the classroom. Dozens of young guitar players came to UW-Green Bay for the Total Guitarist summer camp.
“It’s just really a fun experience to hang out with all of these other good guitarists and just learn a lot,” said Mitchell Gutierrez from Green Bay. He has only been playing guitar for a year and a half.
“I never took classes for guitar,” the 15-year-old said. “I basically taught myself so I don’t know much about notes and all that stuff. So I’m just taking all that in from our theory classes.”
Ben Emrickson is from the Chicago area. He found out about the camp online.
“I wanted to get some help writing songs and stuff and some techniques too,” he said.
That’s what the guitarists get from instructors like Nick Utrie.
“We want to give them information and tools that they can take home with them that are going to let them bring their playing to the next level,” said Utrie, the camp director. He also said the teens spend about 80% of the time with their guitars in hand. The rest of the time is spent learning music theory.
“Every kid doesn’t like the same kind of music and that’s why we call it Total Guitarist,” Utrie said. “Some kids like rock and roll and they like metal and some kids like folk and they want to do more singer-songwriting things. The guitar is a versatile instrument and it has a wide variety of applications.”
This year, it’s not just guitar players at the camp, but bass players and drummers too.
“When you bring them all together you’re able to create a real, hands-on musical experience,” Utrie said.
The young musicians form bands and learn how to play as a unit. That’s one of the highlights of the camp for Ben Emrickson.
“Being able to play with other people better, that’s improved a lot since I got here,” Emrickson said.
He says for him, music is more than just a hobby. He hopes to make it a career. Whether he ends up playing music or teaching music, the Total Guitarist camp is definitely a step toward that goal.