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In the Spotlight: How Eric Dieter is building a community, one guitar lesson at a time

Intelligencer Journal - 1/7/2019

Eric Dieter, 37, of Manheim Township, is a musician, composer, session guitarist, band member and now, primarily, a teacher.

Dieter owns the Quarter Bend Guitar Studio in his Manheim Township home. His guitar students include children, retirees, people with autism and Asperger's syndrome, beginners and accomplished players.

"I'd like to call myself a guitar guru, but that's probably too grandiose,'' he says. “I'll always be a guitar player, but my primary focus right now is teaching.''

Education: Degrees in music from Millersville University and the Berklee College of Music, and in psychology from Millersville.

Family: Wife, Tonna Carbaugh-Dieter, and two dogs, Coda and Sophie.

Recent accomplishments: Contributed songs to a play, "Sword of the Unicorn,'' that was performed off-Broadway and at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

"I ended up playing in that,'' Dieter says. “It was like a rock band they set up to create some ethereal background pieces. That was a lot of fun. I'd love to do it again.''

Bands: Hiding Scarlet, which performed recently at Tellus360, and Hudson K, a Nashville-based group Dieter met while they were recording an album in Harrisburg.

"My wife and I put them up for about a month,'' he says. “(We) just connected really well.

"That's the thing about music. All the quality relationships I've had are through music. The amazing thing about it is the way it binds us. It's more primal than words.''

Regular gig: Dieter and his students perform weekly at open mic night (Wednesdays) at the Sandwich Factory on Lititz Pike.

Mentor: Marsha Engler, Dieter's guitar professor at MU, with whom he meets bi-weekly.

"I can bounce teaching ideas off her, practice methods,'' he says. “I can't say enough good things about her. She's amazing.''

Go-to guitar: A dark blue 2005 Ernie Ball Music Man.

How his psychology training affects his teaching: "A student comes in for a lesson, and the typical approach is, what did you do? Let's review. What do you remember from the last lesson?

“That's the standard format. But there's research showing that's not the best way to do it, that the time you're most receptive to learning is in the first 20 minutes.

“Think about it. You're driving to the lesson, you're thinking about guitar, and then you get here, and (I say), ‘I know you're excited, but wait while I talk.'

"No. You have to think about learning styles.''

Big-picture goal: "My goal is to expand my guitar community. I get a lot of teenagers. Their parents say, 'My daughter, she's really smart, really shy, hasn't found her tribe yet.' A lot of times, they find it in music.

"(My goal is) taking that to a bigger scale. More people connecting through music rather than distancing through social media or all the other noise that's out there.''

Credit: MIKE GROSS | Sports Writer


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