Oslo Studios has been in business for over 17 years. Phil Olson, owner and operator, is an experienced musician and has been playing guitar for 39 years. His teaching methodology combines understanding notes, the design of a stringed instrument, and how music is put together to give any student the tools to enjoy and succeed on the guitar or bass
The Early Years – High School to College
Phil was involved Orchestra, Stage Band, Choir, and the Carolers. He played contra bass in Orchestra. In his senior year, the Concert Winds Band Director asked for his help to teach the tuba section their parts. He also performed individually as a solo Classical Guitarist. Students and teachers alike recognized his talent. Receiving the Louis Armstrong Award for best jazz soloist. In his senior year, teachers joked that the annual Talent Show: The Tigers Roar… Be titled “The Phil Olson Variety Hour” due his overall involvement. Outside of school, he performed in a Southern Rock Band.
Achieving a Bachelor’s of Arts degree at Gustavus Adophus College in St. Peter, MN he played in the Stage Bands, and a Classical Guitar quartet. He co-founded a band that played all over the Midwest – Rock and Metal (Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming). Phil also co-founded a Jazz quintet group, which played locally. In his sophomore year, he was asked to be the Bass player for the top stage band of which there were three. Phil played in that group till he graduated.
After graduation Phil moved out to L.A. and furthering his education by earning a recording engineering degree. During that time he took lessons from some of the top session guitarists. He also studied under Paul Butterfield, a former student of Ted Greene.
After returning to Minnesota in 1989 he played guitar in a jazz group at different venues throughout the Minneapolis & St. Paul area. In 2003, Phil started teaching part-time while still working at his corporate job at American Express.
Within just 2 months after starting to teach Phil had enough students to leave his 13-year career and teach fulltime at Oslo Studios. The newly acquired studio was teaching over 70 students just 3 months later!
Teaching Methodology – The Studio
Phil has developed a unique approach to understand the guitar and bass. But this method could actually be applied to any stringed instrument. Whether someone is a beginner or even skilled at guitar, Phil has a way that gives new insight to the instrument.
Those who are advanced have made the same comment consistently, “My playing has gotten so much better – people are complimenting me on how much I’ve improved.” and… “You’ve really opened up the instrument to me.” One former student who had been playing 50 years prior to coming to Oslo Studio said, “I’ve learned more from you in the past 6 months than my last 30 years of playing!”
Phil has learned a lot from many of his students as well. Every once in a while a student will make a comment or observation that has given an insight on how to better his methods and teaching. Due to this he has designed alternate ways for a student to learn their instrument.
When he first started teaching he was pretty set on each student having to learn how to read music. However, he noticed that not everybody wants to do that and knowing that has led him to design different ways to learn music. Phil teaches his students ways to understand where the notes exist on the neck by reading chord charts and in this process they still learn the entire neck.
Phil now has two distinct paths a student can take:
- If the student wants? Teach them to become a skilled sight-reader.
- If the student is not interested in sight-reading? Teach them to understand music in a non-traditional path.
His Goal: To help others learn the guitar in the most time efficient manner possible. And, in a way that will cut years off the traditional methods most guitarists learn with!
Phil Olson is in the process of working to complete a DVD series that will capture all that “I’ve learned in my 13 years of teaching guitar and bass guitar.” He wants to take these years of experience and share it with others who are looking to learn guitar without taking the traditional guitar lessons in a studio. Check back on the site for more information on the complete DVD series.