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Convener Corner: Meet Rick Mareske!

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Rick Mareske Photo

Rick playing a guitar his dad built, with his good friend, John Miles.


As Communiversity members, many of you may already be familiar with Rick Mareske. Not only is the devoted coordinator of our community of shared knowledge, but he is a convener himself. He has taught classes such as “The Early Game of Tennis”—which met at 7 a.m., “Beginning Gypsy Jazz Guitar,” “Plain ol’ Beginning Guitar,” “Go with Others”—an introduction to the Chinese game of Go, and “Tai Chi for Health”.

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, Marekse is teaching “Beginning Jazz Guitar” from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. He has been playing guitar for 45 years, and has taught the class for about 10.

“I started singing harmony when I was five,” Mareske said. “I love music. It follows me around relentlessly.”

Although he “resisted taking lessons for many years,” Marekse finally took classical lessons with Doug Niedt around 1981.

“I took lessons with Kansas City jazz icon, John Elliot, for several years after that,” Mareske said. “He was a piano player, arranger and jazz theorist who had a better understanding of guitar than any guitarist I’ve ever met. He could write an arrangement for guitar out of his head while correcting me as I attempted to play my lesson. He demanded recitation of chords in all keys. It was an invaluable learning experience that I carry with me every time I play the guitar or arrange a piece of music.”

Jazz Guitar Photo

Mareske’s class consists of three sessions.

“I try to give people a tiny taste of how and why you might want to keep common tones when you play chord progressions,” Mareske said. “It’s really hard and most people can’t get it but some do, and I think it changes how they approach the guitar for the better.”

Mareske enjoys teaching through Communiversity because of the “rich diversity” of people who are likely to show up.


“I believe the truth is only found in stories, whether that be science, literature, history or spiritual. If we take these stories too seriously, we become hardened and fundamentalist. If we don’t take them seriously enough, we become apathetic and alienated. Not all stories are equal. Devotion, commitment, usefulness, openness and love are essential to a good story.”

Storytelling Photo

To take a class with Mareske, search Communiversity’s database by “Convener Last Name” and type in “Mareske”.

If you were an animal, what would you be?
“Sometimes porcupine has come in handy.”

By Jessica Turner and Rick Mareske


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