As most natives to the valley can tell you, Gary Foshee is no stranger to the guitar. Having played music for more than 30 years and teaching for more than 15, Foshee can be titled virtuoso.

Growing up in Buellton, he began by playing bass in a band with a few local Jonata alumni. He progressively developed his skills until he was approached by a friend to do a little makeshift teaching. Successful at this, a year later he was working as an instructor for Jensenís Guitar Shop in Solvang, with roughly 50 students under his command.

Wanting a change of pace, more space and being naturally independent and self motivated, Foshee opened his own studio around 2002, which is now located in his home in downtown Los Olivos.

Thatís where he offers students, musical colleagues and friends alike a variety of tools to enhance their musical learning experiences.

The studio, built into his home, offers a comfortable learning environment, plus a hometown atmosphere Foshee himself shares. With many high-tech devices at his disposal including amps, drum machines, microphones and recording equipment, his studio is more than capable of being used for multipurpose melodic endeavors.

Whether itís recording albums for local bands, recording tracks of studentsí own works to assist with learning, serving as a rehearsal space for Gary Fosheeís own band or being simply an accommodation for teaching, the studio is an integral part of his overall method. His main focus is incorporating all the tools at his disposal with his teaching.

ďI donít think there is any greater incentive than hearing yourself,Ē Foshee says. ďMy biggest inspiration is when a student listens to his own work and says, ĎCan I do it again?íĒ

However, Fosheeís central teaching utility is his empirical knowledge.

ďMy main skill as a teacher is passing on what Iíve learned from playing in my own bands over the years,Ē he explains. ďIím essentially passing on my experience that helps fuel my studentís learning.Ē

Fosheeís studio is a homey, intuitive and creative environment for learning, recording, practicing or jamming ó where students always learn something new and have fun doing it.

The Journal talked with the musician to find out more about his business. Hereís what we learned:

Why did you start this business?

I started teaching at Jensenís Guitar Shop in Solvang in 1993. I started out with six students and within 4 months I had more than 25. I learned a lot about the art of teaching, which is essentially, the art of communication. Over the years I felt the need to have more space to work in, and more flexible hours, so I eventually took the leap of faith, and opened my studio in downtown Los Olivos in 2002.

What is your business background?

I donít have any background in business. The skills required for what Iím doing revolve around having good communication with the person or group Iím working with. I teach music to young children and adults, and I work with bands and singer/songwriters in my recording studio, so in order to make progress I need to be good at explaining musical concepts, or encouraging someone to be a better singer or guitar player.

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given, and who gave it to you?

Smile and treat people well. My parents impressed that upon me.

What is the biggest challenge your business faces today?

The current state of the economy.

What is the simplest thing youíve never learned to do?

Take a vacation!

What sets your business apart from your competitorís?

My ability to develop good working relationships with people of all ages. All students learn at a different pace, and Iíve learned how to work within an individualís pace, as well as assessing their natural strengths and helping them to smooth out the more challenging aspects of their playing. Fortunately, I have a lot of patience for the learning process.

What books are on your bedside table?

New York Times

Why did you choose to set up your business in the valley?

I have lived in the Valley all my life, so setting up my business here was the natural thing to do. Iíve been playing music in the area since 1982, so being established as a musician was a great advantage for me, as well.

How could local elected officials make it easier for you to be successful?

Iím not sure any local elected officials could make it any easier for me. I am successful in that I have an occupation that I love, and Iíve always lived in this great place.

Where do you see your business in five years?

I will always be working in music in one capacity or another, whether itís performing, composing or teaching. Those three things keep me busy. And I can see myself venturing more into music production. Iím on the lookout for bands or singer/songwriters in need of getting their music recorded.

Finally, what is on your to-do list?

Go to Yosemite!

Business Name: Los Olivos Music Studio

Owner: Gary Foshee

Address: Downtown Los Olivos

Telephone: (805) 686-2030

Hours: By appointment