by Dennis Dalman
“Guitar” might as well be Kevin Carlson’s middle name because he’s carried it around as long as he can remember.
Carlson, 55, recently opened a guitar-teaching studio for children in Sartell’s Riverside Plaza, 101 Seventh St. N, Suite 3. The studio, dubbed “The Childbloom/PMI Guitar Program,” is a satellite branch of the national PMI Guitar School, one of about two dozen branches in the nation and the only one in Minnesota.
Carlson also hosts teaching sessions at his home, mostly for kids but for some adults too.
Raised in Shoreview, Carlson has been playing guitar since he was 7 years old. The instrument was so much a part of his life, his passion, that he earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of Minnesota, then went on to acquire a professional guitar degree from the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles.
He has taught guitar-playing since he was in high school. After moving to St. Cloud in 1997, he taught guitar at the Schmitt’s Music store. He and his wife, Nicky, and their seven children live in east St. Cloud. Nicky, who works at Sauk Rapids Guardian Pharmacy, is an excellent singer. She regularly sings at St. Joseph Catholic Church, accompanied by Kevin’s guitar-playing.
At his Sartell studio, the fully-accredited Carlson teaches children ages 5 to 12 in a variety of playing styles, such as strumming, finger style, pick style. He calls it “foundational music” for young learners. The lessons for beginners and all skill levels take place from 3:30-6 p.m. every Monday.
“We wear masks,” he said, “but we can also do virtual lessons. Music gives kids a real sense of pride and accomplishment, and music is the ultimate thing to share among people. The kids are great. They bring joy to me – a lot of joy.”
Many in the St. Cloud area know Carlson and his music. He has played at multiple venues – churches, schools, weddings, nursing homes, community events, coffee shops. He often performs in gigs as a guest performer in other duos, trios and bands. On Thursday mornings, he performs in the lobby of the Coborn’s Cancer Center in CentraCare Health Plaza.
Carlson is a member of many guitar-oriented organizations, including the Guitar Association of America and the Minnesota Guitar Society.
Carlson’s latest recordings are “The Guitar Can Do It” and “Inside the Heart of a Musician.”
During the decades, he has listened, taught, learned from and enjoyed countless guitarists. His favorite?
“Chet Atkins,” he replied without a pause.
Atkins (1924-2001), raised in Tennessee, is still arguably the most widely admired guitarist in the world, who inspired countless other guitarists with his masterful but seemingly effortless playing style. A founder of the smooth “Nashville country sound,” Atkins was admired and often imitated even by rock ‘n’ roll legends like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.
For more info about Carlson’s Childbloom Program, visit its website at pmiguitar.childbloom.com.
Or call him at 320-237-1011. Another way to reach him or to ask questions is at Kevin@pmiguitar.org.