Guitar Lessons at the Conservatory


Guitar Lessons at the Conservatory

Wisconsin’s Top Guitar Program

The Conservatory’s guitar department offers top quality instruction on a variety of guitar styles and types. Students will thrive in a welcoming environment catered to whatever skill level you may have. Whether you want to learn just some simple songs for your own enjoyment or take part in a preparatory environment for a professional level, we have the faculty to meet your needs. Choose your teacher from our website and/or our student services will recommend a teacher for you.



Private Guitar Lessons

New Student Lesson Discount


In-person and online Zoom lessons give you access to more than 90 skilled faculty members for any instrument and genre. Join a community of more than 10,000 students and schedule your first lessons today!



student sitting in chair with guitar

Guitar Studies At The Conservatory

What You Can Expect

Playing the guitar can have a number of social and psychological benefits for you or your child; from the brilliant way it allows an individual to express themselves through music, to the dedication it demands by requiring patience and perseverance. What you can expect from guitar lessons and classes at the Wisconsin Conservatory:

  • High quality teaching for all ages in multiple guitar types and diverse musical styles.
  • Professional guidance that will build proper technique and help you play, cleanly, musically, and without tension.
  • Solo and group performance opportunities at the Helen Bader Recital Hall and in the community.
  • An enjoyable learning experience and improved self-confidence through playing.

For Ages 4 – 10

NEW – Suzuki Guitar Package

The Conservatory’s popular Suzuki program expands to include guitar with expert teachers Tobias James and Irina Yanovskaya.



Jazz & Contemporary Music

The Conservatory’s new Jazz & Contemporary Music offerings will continue to preserve and share the unique heritage of American Jazz — a longstanding WCM tradition — while celebrating its proud heritage that is ever present in the music of today.


Dad and Daughters Together

Open for Guitar Students

Music Theory Classes

Create compositions, learn basic piano skills, and better understand the music that you create with our new Music Theory classes – now available for all ages.

Music Theory Classes can be taken individually or bundled with a private lesson and group class (Conservatory Prep package), for a comprehensive musical experience.

Learn More

Jazz Camp 2020

For Students with 2+ Years of Experience & Beyond

Intermediate & Advanced Programs

Students with at least two or more years on their instrument can enroll in an ensemble or audition for the Advanced Chamber Music Institute and the Honors Jazz Institute.


Scholarship Auditions 2023-2024

Through generous financial support of our donors, the Conservatory annually awards merit scholarships to new and current students. These merit scholarships are meant to reward accomplishment, effort, and to encourage our talented students to further their skills. The Conservatory’s scholarship auditions provide a wonderful opportunity for students to have a professional assessment of their abilities within a positive and supportive environment.

Auditions for the 2023-2024 school year will take place on March 5, 2023. 




*Current Conservatory students should request a scholarship audition application from their private lesson instructor. 


Guide to Guitar Styles, Types, Techniques, and Associated Accessories

Classical Guitar

Classical Guitar

  • Nylon string guitar (hollow body)
  • Metronome
  • Foot stool to rest the left foot on so guitar can lie properly on the left leg. (This will facilitate good technique and posture)
  • Right-hand finger techniques are used to pluck the strings
  • Involves music note-reading – Music to be discussed with instructor

Country Guitar

Country Guitar

  • Steel String Acoustic guitar (hollow body) or Electric guitar (solid body) with pick guard
  • Pick or fingers or pick/fingers hybrid to pluck and strum the strings
  • Finger techniques are an offshoot of classical techniques but with a different right hand angle
  • Amp for guitar to be plugged into for guitar to be heard

Fingerstyle Acoustic and Folk Guitar

Fingerstyle Acoustic and Folk Guitar

  • Steel String Acoustic guitar (hollow body) or Nylon String guitar (hollow body)
  • Pick or fingers to pluck and strum the strings
  • Finger techniques are an offshoot of classical techniques but with a different right hand angle
  • Strap to hold guitar

Flamenco Guitar and Latin American

Flamenco Guitar and latin american

  • Nylon string guitar (preferably with a tap plate), hollow body, and low string action at the bridge (Classical guitar can be used but is not ideal.)
  • Taught by ear as the style is an aural art form and with improvisation
  • Metronome
  • Foot stool to rest the left foot on so guitar can lie properly on the left leg, which will facilitate good technique and posture
  • Right-hand finger techniques are used to pluck the strings (very similar to Classical techniques with some variants in position), and inherent to the style, there are specific types of right hand finger strumming techniques used to accentuate flamenco rhythmic patterns
  • Involves learning by ear and improvisation

Jazz & Latin Jazz Guitar

Jazz & Latin Jazz Guitar

  • Steel String Acoustic guitar (hollow body) or Electric guitar (solid body) with pick guard
  • Strap to hold guitar
  • Pick and Picking techniques to pluck and strum the strings
  • Amp for guitar to be plugged into for guitar to be heard
  • Involves note and chart reading of music, and improvisation

Rock, Fusion, Funk, Blues, R&B, Gospel, Alternative, Pop, Metal Guitar

Rock, Fusion, Funk, Blues, R&B, Gospel, Alternative, Pop, Metal Guitar

  • Electric Guitar (solid body) with pick guard
  • Strap to hold guitar
  • Pick and Picking techniques to pluck and strum the strings
  • Amp for guitar to be plugged into for guitar to be heard
  • Effect Pedals
  • Involves note and chart reading of music, and improvisation

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Guitar Faculty

Meet Our Teachers

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Ben Dameron


  • Seattle born Ben Dameron picked up the guitar at age 11 and never put it down.
  • Received two degrees in classical guitar performance.
  •  An active performer and teacher in the greater Milwaukee area, making a name for himself as a versatile and prolific performer in classical music, jazz and gypsy jazz.
  • An enthusiastic teacher, Dameron has been on staff with the Latino Arts Strings program since 2017 as a classical guitar instructor, producing several prize winning students in the process.

Darren Garvey


  • Bachelor of Music with Honors, Percussion Performance and Jazz Studies | University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana


  • Multi-instrumentalist, educator, songwriter, record producer, and touring/session musician with 20+ years of experience, Darren studied percussion with Glenn Kotche (Wilco), Michael Zerang, William Moersch, and Ricardo Flores.
  • Released a variety of solo albums and has produced music for Daniel Rodriguez (Elephant Revival), The Lumineers, Emma Rose (Big Richard), Nathaniel Riley, Paper Arrows, and Daniel and the Lion among others.
  • Performed locally at Colectivo Backroom, Turner Hall Ballroom, Shank Hall, Riverside Theater, Meyer Theatre, Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Majestic Theater, High Noon Saloon, Mile of Music, Bradley Center, Leach Amphitheater, Monroe Arts Center, and Summerfest.
  • Additional performance highlights include the Ryman Auditorium, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Ravinia, New York Central Park, Chicago Pritzker Pavilion, San Francisco Golden Gate Park, The Gorge, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Levon Helm Studios, Coors Field Denver, and Germany’s Rockpalast.
  • As a drummer/percussionist Darren has worked with artists Daniel Rodriguez, Shook Twins, Elephant Revival, Courtney Hartman, Lindsay Lou, Sandra Bernhard, Steve Poltz, John Craigie, Danny Barnes, Cameron McGill & What Army, Danny Burns, Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons, Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts, Daniel and the Lion, and Chicago Farmer.
  • Darren lives in the Milwaukee area with his wife and two daughters.Learn more at

Tobias James


  • Bachelor of Music, Guitar Performance | Cleveland Institute of Music
  • Master of Music, Guitar Performance and Pedagogy | Peabody Institute


  • Began to play Suzuki classical guitar at age six and Suzuki cello at age eight.
  • Received prizes at Guitar Foundation of America (4th place youth 2012), Indiana International Guitar competition (2nd place youth 2011), All Ohio Stroud Competition (4th place 2014), East Carolina Guitar competition, Louisville Guitar competition, and others.
  • As an avid flamenco guitarist, accompanies Peabody Preparatory’s flamenco dance class.
  • Wishes to bring this tradition back into the classical realm by commissioning new pieces that incorporate elements of flamenco as well as performing solo works of flamenco guitarists.
  • Has played in halls such as Mixon Hall in Cleveland, OH, Lutkin Hall Evanston, IL, Hatch Recital in Rochester, NY and Comstock Concert Hall in Louisville, KY.
  • Certified to teach Suzuki Guitar Book 1 and 2, and studied teaching under Travis Marcum, Jeremy Osborne, and Matt Hinsley.

Matthew Schroeder


Bachelor of Fine Arts, with honors, Guitar Performance | University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee


  • WCM Faculty member since 1992.
  • Milwaukee based WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) winning guitarist who is equally at home on acoustic or electric guitar.
  • As a fingerstyle guitarist, studied under John Stropes, and graduated with a performance degree in American fingerstyle guitar.
  • Has performed in America and Canada, been featured on local television and radio, and can be heard on the CD compilation American Finger-Style Guitar circa 1999.
  • Is the Artistic Director for the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s annual Guitar Weekend Workshop and Interlochen College of Creative Arts’ Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop.
  • Performs acoustically as a soloist, in a duo with vocalist Lynda Lee, and with the trio La Guitarra.
  • As a rock guitarist, performed extensively throughout the Midwest with Blackfish, Pet Engine, Steve Grimm and the Thrill Cats, and Jamie Jess, and the WAMI-award winning Barbeez.
  • Is featured instructor on the Hal Leonard DVDs Acoustic Guitar Licks Goldmine and Rock Guitar Licks Goldmine, which were released in Spring 2011.

Marija Temo

Chair – Guitar


  • Bachelor Degree | Baldwin – Wallace College Conservatory of Music
  • Master Degree | Peabody Conservatory of Music of The John Hopkins University


  • Conservatory faculty since 2015.
  • Widely recognized as a virtuoso classical and flamenco guitarist, vocalist, conductor, and former dancer.
  • Has been featured with the Baltimore and Calgary Symphonies, as well as in guitar festivals in Asunción, Paraguay, New York City, and The GFA International Guitar Festival and Competition.
  • Has had the privilege to perform for many dignitaries, such as the former Spanish Ambassador, Don Jaime de Ojeda; the former Crown Prince of Spain; and former Vice President Al Gore.
  • Had the honor of having two works for guitar and orchestra written for her, Tango Fantasy and Concierto del Fuego, by Loris Chobanian.
  • Has been a guest artist with the Zac Brown Band, provided music for a GE Capital/Taylor Guitar national television commercial, and performed in a flamenco documentary.
  • Known for her educational programs such as “Flamenco Amazement” and her “Flamenco Communication” workshop for guitarists, singers, and dancers, which was featured for 10 years in the International Festival Flamenco at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Irina Yanovskaya


  • B.M. & M.M., Classical Guitar, Conducting and Music Education|Kiev State University of Art and Music, Ukraine


  • Joined the Conservatory faculty in 2022.
  • Began teaching guitar in prominent music schools in Kyiv.
  • Certified Suzuki instructor, registered with the Suzuki Association of the Americas since 2011.
  • Active performer and member of the “Serenata” duo with a mandolin virtuoso Misha Litvin.
  • Co-founder of the Milwaukee Classical Guitar Society.
  • Director of the Milwaukee Classical Guitar Society orchestra.

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Girl Playing The Violin

Music Education For The Community

Community Partnerships

Does your school, church, early childhood center, public library, senior center, or community organization have a need for quality music education programs in the Milwaukee area? The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music offers community programs to match your need!