The payoff for guitar instructors Mike Krause and Blair Linthicum is when they see their students advance to a larger stage.
“Nothing is more pleasing to me than to teach this material and then see them do something with it,” Linthicum said.
Krause and Linthicum, who have known each other for 20 years, operate Cary Guitar Lessons.
They had been working at a space at a local shop until three years ago. When that business closed, they decided to join forces and operate under the same name.
Each has his own space and clients in the one-time motel on East Chatham Street in downtown Cary, but they are quick to say the setup is mutually beneficial.
“He is the first one I refer students to, and vice versa,” Linthicum said.
Adds Krause, “You have to work with people you trust, and we trust each other.”
Both men are seasoned musicians and are well-known on the Triangle music scene.
Krause, 51, studied at Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music and is in Crush, a cover band that performs regularly at local venues. His students tend to be adults, though he teaches all ages. His oldest student was 92.
Linthicum, 41, is also a professional on guitar and vocals. He directs the contemporary youth worship at Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh.
“Blair has played with heavy-hitters, but never talks about it,” Krause said. “He has played with the bass player for Sheryl Crow.”
Linthicum specializes in teaching children and teens, but also has adult students.
“My youngest student is 3 years old,” he said.
Cary Guitar Lessons serves a healthy mix of beginners and those with a musical background. Their approach varies with each student.
“We custom tailor our program according to people’s interest,” Krause said.
Students often stay on for five to 10 years and more.
“We are teachers and performers,” he said. “Our game doesn’t stop when we go home. We’re still learning, and they are, too.
“Every person’s perception is different,” he said. “So we have to hit them with four or five approaches until the light bulb goes off. That’s learned by teaching over time.”
Corporate professionals often schedule lessons on their lunch breaks as a stress reliever. Krause said they know when those students have passed the acid test.
“They come in and say, ‘My wife says I’m improving.’” Krause said.
The range of material is diverse, from Brad Paisley instrumental solos to classical and jazz.
“I get kids who want to join the jazz band at school,” Linthicum said. “I’m a vocalist, and I can work with teens who want to sing and play at the same time.”
Both instructors say they make it a point to go see their students play outside of their lessons.
“I’ve seen quite a few jazz band performances in the mall at Christmas,” Linthicum said.
Seeing their students progress serves as affirmation of their success, Krause said.
“As tacky as that may sound, it makes you feel good,” he said. “We want to give to our students what we believe in ourselves.
“As musicians, you should never get comfortable. You should constantly try to better yourself. I couldn’t keep it fresh if I wasn’t excited about it every day.”
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