Early Guitar Studies & Pit Orchestra Performances (1995-2002)
I began taking guitar lessons at the age of 11 with blues/jazz guitarist Tom Castonzo, a frequent performer, bandleader and teacher in and around the Chicago area. My studies with Tom lasted for many years and covered various musical and technical aspects of many different styles ranging from jazz to classical and everything in between. In 2002, I began performing in pit orchestras for various musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserable, The Wiz, Little Shop of Horrors, and Seussical the Musical.
Original Music Projects (2003-Present)
From 2003-2008, I wrote and performed music for 2 different progressive rock bands: Dream Haven and The Unit Theory. Dream Haven released the EP entitled “Nostalgia is Five Frame” and The Unit Theory released a ful
l-length album entitled “Seed.” Both bands performed all over the greater Chicago-land area and helped me hone my skills as an electric guitarist. Throughout this time, we shared the stage with national touring & recording acts Fear Factory, Mastodon, Enuff Z’nuff, and Algernon, to name a few. I now play lead guitar in the Chicago-based alternative rock band Davenport Ed and am having started an all-instrumental acoustic/rock trio with two percussionists.
Undergraduate Studies (College of Dupage and Northern Illinois University: 2002-2008)
After high school, I attended the College of Dupage (COD) and began studying jazz guitar with Dr. Zvonimir Tot. Towards the end of my studies at COD, I developed an interest in classical guitar and took lessons from Steve Ramsdell. After I received my Associate’s Degree in Music from COD I started teaching private guitar lessons at various suburban Chicagoland locations. I graduated from COD in 2004 with an Associate in Music degree. In the fall of 2005, I started my Bachelor’s studies in Classical Guitar Performance at Northern Illinois University (NIU) with Fareed Haque (Winner of “Best World Guitarist” in Guitar Magazine). While at NIU, I continued to teach & perform up until I graduated in May 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in Classical Guitar Performance.
Graduate Studies (New England Conservatory of Music: 2008-2010)
I started my graduate studies in August 2008 at the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) in Boston, under the tutelage of world-renowned guitarist Eliot Fisk. As an active performer in the greater Boston area, I made it a goal to bring the classical guitar to unorthodox venues such as senior centers, local TV, hospitals, dialysis treatment centers, and even juvenile halls! While at NEC, I started to take an interest in transcription, which is the art of adapting a composition for a voice or instrument other than the original. Eliot Fisk is a master at this, and his guidance was profound. In June 2010, I graduated from NEC with a Master’s in Music (with Academic Honors) for Classical Guitar Performance. My master's recital was a tour-de-force of virtuosic classical, acoustic, and electric guitar pieces with music ranging from J.S. Bach to Joaquin Rodrigo to Steve Vai.
Flamenco Guitar & Ritmo Flamenco (2009-Present)
During my time at NEC, I was fortunate enough to meet Grisha Goryachev, a master flamenco guitarist. Grisha introduced me to the basic principals of flamenco guitar and proved to be a wonderful resource. I continue my flamenco guitar studies by learning historical flamenco recordings entirely by ear. Short of living in Spain for extended periods of time, I have found this to be the purest way of learning. I am now the flamenco guitarist for Ritmo Flamenco, an ensemble that features dancer Diane Campbell.
Professional Musician & Awards (2010 – Present)
I moved back to Chicago in July 2010 and have since had hundreds of performances that include weddings, corporate events, restaurants, recitals, and more. My reputation as a premiere performing guitarist has grown rapidly in the past 2 years, and I earned 2 awards at the end of 2012: “Top Solo Guitarist” on the world’s largest entertainment site which is Gig Master and “Best of Wedding” (the world’s largest wedding-planning site). I am a regular featured performing artist at premiere restaurants in the Chicago suburbs including The Cellar Bistro in Wheaton, Eddie Merlot’s in Warrenville, and Wildwood Steakhouse in Geneva.
*** Lesson Details *** ***Teaching students ages 10+***
My first goal as an instructor is to get an idea of what the student's goals are as a guitarist, and then we start working towards that goal. This means that while the basic concepts are covered (chords, some sight-reading in most cases, scales, etc), no student curriculum is exactly the same. After a few months of studying with me, no matter what style of music, we will have learned notes, chords, and songs that are of interest to the student. Then, we will discuss how all of those elements tie together and map out a practice routine. A goal I have for every student is to create a realistic, efficient, and enjoyable practice routine that produces results.
*** Studio Equipment *** Music stands, guitars (acoustic, electric, classical), cable/amp, appropriate paper materials & books for learning music.
*** Travel Equipment *** I do not travel to lessons.
*** Specialties *** I specialize in classical, rock, pop, & music theory.
Have been teaching myself guitar for two years; Jim has shown me I'm ready to move up a level. His lessons (I've had three so far) are fun and he tailors them to what I want to play. Jim provides written notes summarizing the lesson and guiding my practice for the next week. And he plays guitar beautifully. Makes me hope to be good myself someday.
July 9, 2018
James is knowledgable and gives positive feedback to students
June 29, 2017
James is a great teacher able to break down complex music and communicate how to play it.
I have extensively studied vocal performance for many years and continue to add to my own technique. I have a Master of Vocal Performance Degree from the Chicago College of Performing Arts. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology, where I extensively studied the anatomy of the voice. I am the founder of BAWS Studio where we train artists in all aspects of performance (singing, songwriting, recording, piano, and guitar). I previously worked for a recording studio (Sound Summit Studios in Naperville IL) where I teach voice and help singers record their music in the studio. I have previously taught at The School of Rock in Indianapolis Indiana. I have administered vocal lessons to every voice type at all different levels. Several of my students have recored albums and are currently performing all over the World.
I have a bachelors
degree in biology with a minor in art. After graduating college, I was a full-time high school biology teacher, volleyball coach, and director of the school musical. As a high school teacher, I learned first hand the kind of pressure and expectations that are placed on students in order for them to succeed. In college, I was the head student researcher on a two-year lab project. I took several upper level science courses including: biochemistry, calculus, organic chemistry, calculus based physics, cell biology, anatomy, and physiology. I studied marine biology in the Virgin Islands and am CPR certified.
*** Lesson Details *** Voice lessons with me are fun and effective. You can expect to hear improved technique from day one, eventually reaching your long term goals. I begin every lesson aligning the students voice through various vocal warm ups and exercises. We then work together to pick repertoire that will suit the singer's voice and they will enjoy singing. During a lesson we will also cover performance presentation, acting, diction, rhythm, musicality, style, and interpretation.
During tutoring you can expect a personalized plan based on your goals and aspirations. Since every student is different you can be assured we will come up with a plan that is designed just for you. I am a laid back tutor but will be sure to get the most out of you after our time together. Most students see at least a one letter grade improvement. My main goal for every tutoring session is student learning and comprehension.
*** Studio Equipment *** Piano, recording equipment, large collection of sheet music
*** Specialties *** I specialize in helping students find their true singing voice.
Phenomenal. Gets to the point, is great at demonstrating, and provides feedback you can work off of.
October 2, 2019
September 12, 2019
So far, lessons with Ben have been VERY good (and productive! I'm naturally a reserved person, but He has gotten me to push beyond my comfort zone (that is "be louder"), which in retrospect has also helped me build my confidence in other areas. So at this point I look forward to having lessons, because I am growing in my understanding of how to use this God-given gift; a gift that's meant to be shared (not hidden away in silence).
I perform and teach guitar professionally. Music is my passion and I love to learn new music and help others learn it as well. I currently specialize in teaching classical guitar with a focus on building strong technique, ear training, and practical applications for using formal and contemporary music analysis skills.
I also love playing jazz and various styles of pop music. I try to bring a similar approach to teaching these as I do in my classical teaching. I want to work on answering questions the music asks of the performer; like how would you play a Country Swing song versus a Jazz Swing song, how would you approach a contemporary Spanish Guitar Suite versus a Baroque Guitar Suite, or how would you play a Taylor Swift song versus a John Mayer song.
Nicole is available to teach lessons for students of all levels. Beginning her singing career when she was 7, she most recently sang at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, was a winner of the international CS Competition in musical theatre, and is a Chicago F.A.M.E. finalist for Jazz and popular music. Combined with her training and professional experience, Nicole teaches singers to switch gracefully between multiple styles. She practices what she preaches: one night she might be singing Beyoncé, and the next morning she might be singing Handel's Messiah!
Nicole has been a young artist for Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Metropolitan International Music Festival, and for Tiroler Opern Programm, under international instructors, including Elizabeth Bachman (from the Metropolitan Opera), Kim Josephson (Metropolitan Opera), Sharon Cheng (Caramoor),
Michael Fennely (Carnegie Hall), Wei-En Hsu (Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra), and Candace Evans (Santa Fe Opera). Nicole earned her Associates in Theatre from Brigham Young University ('12) and went on to acquire her BM in Vocal Performance from Illinois Wesleyan University ('14). Nicole obtained additional training from Boston University, Elon University, and the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Isaiah earned his Bacehlor's of Arts in Jazz & Contemporary Music Performance in 2019 from Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts. As an active performer, bandleader, composer, and teacher, Isaiah provides a uniquely engaging and holistic musical education for students of all ages and skill levels. His professional resume includes working with Macy's, Music Box Theater, Randy Deadman (Hamilton), Reuben Garza (Noname), Adam Thornburg (Wynton Marsalis), Jacob Victor (Downbeat), and Gustavo Cortinas (Downbeat). Over the years, Isaiah has earned numerous awards at jazz festivals across the country as an outstanding soloist. His primary teacher and mentor has been Jim Gailloreto (Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera).
Isaiah grew up in a family of teachers and musicians. His educational philosophy was shaped around th
e dinner table, and is equally as inclusive. Making music fun, encouraging self reliance and discipline, promoting musical literacy, and nurturing students' creativity are at the heart of his lessons. Isaiah unapolegetically loves everything from Bach to Bjork. One of his greatest strengths and passions is connecting people with music that makes them smile. He has an extensive teaching resume that includes Tom Garling's Tritone Music School in Arlington Heights, Top Note Music Academy in Skokie, Band for Today in Chicago, Flatts and Sharpe Music Academy, and the blue ribbon St. Joan of Arc Elementary in Evanston, IL, among others.
His skillset is as broad as it is deep. As a pianist, saxophonist, flutist, vocalist, and composer, he has quickly become one of the most highly sought after musicians in the Midwest. In addition to scoring the feature film, Promise of the Butterfly, currently making its rounds at film festivals, his performance experience includes jazz, classical, Latin, rock, pop, R&B, hip hop, funk, musical theater, South Indian fusion, and more. His bands have appeared at a number of high-profile venues around Chicago including House of Blues, The Promontory, Cubby Bear and numerous residencies.
I can already sense that my boys are going to have a great learning experience with Isaiah. He caught on to each child’s strengths and areas of growth in the content as well as behavioral differences. He adjusted to each one fluidly and took the time to debrief after the lesson. I’m looking forward to continuing this relationship.
March 23, 2019
Really brilliant teacher, has taught me saxophone from scratch. Focuses on a full range of skills in every lesson, from sound, technical exercises, jazz theory, improvisation and jazz repertoire. Have loved every lesson, and feel like I've improved significantly. Definitely recommend him to anyone wanting to learn saxophone, or how to be a jazz musician.
I am a classically trained opera singer with a 18-year background studying voice and performing on stage. I have experience with a variety of styles: classical, musical theater, pop, jazz, rock and more. I perform all over the Chicagoland area in various bands and I am currently a member of improv-opera group Forte Chicago, which works to debunk the stereotypes of opera as an art form.
I began teaching beginner voice lessons a few years ago and I have found that sharing music with my students brings me so much joy. My past and current voice students ranged in age from 8-65.
I play piano as much as I can for my lessons. We will use recorded accompaniment (karaoke tracks, piano accompaniment tracks, etc) as needed.
I have extensive knowledge of music education techniques, music history, and theory. I am also proficient in Itali
an, French, German, Spanish, and Latin. My many years of professional chorus work and time as a section leader also contribute to my ability as a teacher and singer.
I teach lessons out of my Irving Park home. I have a very friendly Siberian Husky, Lando, who will be present at lessons at my home. He usually sits on the couch or floor and sleeps during lessons. If you're lucky, he might sing along!
I enjoyed the classes with Vocal Coach Amanda because I learned the fundamentals of singing in an entertaining fashion. In addition, you are not going to believe it, but as a test, she asked me to perform Halleluja in a duet in front of 100 people at a reception at the John Hancock Center. I passed the test because she also worked on helping me to build confidence. My grade to Coach Amanda is A+. Unfortunately, I am spending my summer in South America and I cannot continue until Fall. Looking forward to take more singing classes with Coach Amanda.
May 21, 2016
Great instructor. Got me too understand pacing, breathing and projection very quickly.
May 21, 2016
Great instructor. Got me too understand pacing, breathing and projection very quickly.
Hello everybody, my name is Michael and I have been playing both the guitar and piano since I was four years old. I am a full-time music instructor, and I also perform frequently on the weekend. My main musical interests include americana and country music, but I have spent time learning several other types of music as well. My favorite style to teach is the blues. I am looking to teach beginner to intermediate students and help them learn/perfect the basic and intermediate skills of guitar and piano.
Enjoyed the first lesson a lot! We spent time going over basic open chords, different ways to finger them and then we worked on transitioning between them. Michael was very patient and encouraging. We also touched on some basic music theory... really ooking forward to the upcoming lessons!
July 25, 2019
Michael is very relatable & knowledgeable. Brody who is 8 looks forward to Michsels lessons & he is learning a love for music through Michael!!
January 7, 2017
Very nice guy and knowledgeable. Easy to get along with and really works to make it a fun and enjoyable experience.
I am a professional cellist, skilled in all solo, chamber, and orchestra settings. My playing has invited me into the top ranking music festivals in the world including Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and many others. These opportunities have led me to perform with the New York Philharmonic.
Growing up, I studied with a Philadelphia orchestra cellist who prepared me for conservatory auditions. After being accepted into all 7 universities and conservatories I applied to including the Juilliard School, I decided to go to the Cleveland Institute of Music where I got my Bachelors of Music in cello performance. I studied with the former principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra, and also with one of the best Suzuki pedagogues in the country. I, then, got a Masters in Music in cello performance
from Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music. There, I studied with one of the most internationally renowned cello professors in the world who has shaped me into the musician I am today. In addition, I got my Suzuki Certification in all 10 levels of cello books after completing a 2 year year rigorous Suzuki pedagogy program.
In my second year at Northwestern, I won a fellowship, covering my full tuition and acceptance into The Civic Orchestra of Chicago. This is the apprentice orchestra under the Chicago Symphony. We worked with all the conductors that came in to play with the symphony. Yo Yo Ma, the most famous cellist of all time, is the creative consultant for the Civic Orchestra and we got to work with him 4 or 5 times a year.
I have traveled and performed with my string quartet ATLYS representing Lincoln Center in New York City. We have traveled around the world playing crossover music, where we play arrangements of pop, jazz, folk, traditional, rock, indie, alternative, rap, but always return to the forever-beautiful classical quartets, as well.
Because of this, I have learned to play extended techniques on the cello and learned different styles of playing, like Celtic gigs and reels and cool jazzy bass lines. I think this is a fun unique quality that I can add to a student's cello development when studying with me.
I arrange music for string quartet, too. I think it's important for my students to also learn some basic music theory as it can develop a student's understanding of music at a much deeper level. This can make a student appreciate how a piece is created and where a phrase needs tension or where it needs to be released. It's very important for their musicality.
"Ellen is excellent! She has listened to our daughter and helped her to learn several songs on the violin which is what she wanted. She is actually pract
icing almost daily! Ellen plays alongside her so she can get a feel for the notes and how they sound. I like the way she teaches. She encourages and praises our daughter all the time."
"She has a lot of patience answering all my questions and she is always willing to help and answer any of my doubts"
"It's been so fun taking lessons from Jessica. She is interested in finding out the student's learning method and tailors the lessons accordingly. I'm on w
eek 3 and I'm enjoying myself so much! I was a little nervous about taking lessons through Skype, but she's been able to teach me almost seamlessly, of course there's some difficulties because she can't get a 360 view of how I'm playing, but that's something we can accommodate to."
"Dave is a great person to work with. He is not only a very good teacher, but also very professional. My son enjoys his lesson a lot, and I will highly rec
ommend him to anyone who plan to take guitar lesson."
"Katie really tailored the class to my needs and significantly improved my singing. She is fun to work with, and also very patient, hugely knowledgeable a
nd very trustworthy to work with. I would highly recommend her."
"Learned more in an hour than in the past 4 months with my previous instructor. Great lesson! I am very excited to learn from Jake."
"Erin is extremely patient and talented in her abilities to work with a five year old. I'm very pleased to have found someone like her."
"Excellent music teacher and very accommodating"
"Paul is a highly skilled communicator of musical knowledge.
I've taken bass and guitar lessons from Paul for eight years. He has a deep understanding of
music theory, and is a professional musician, playing multiple instruments. His brilliance as a teacher stems from his ability to tailor his instruction to a specific student's abilities and desires. If you want to learn how play the guitar lead to your favorite rock/pop song, Paul will teach you, while showing you how the scales and forms can, be and are used in other popular songs. I've seen him teach kids from 6 to 60. He organizes blues jams for students, giving them a chance to play with professional musicians. Paul is extremely professional, friendly, and knowledgable. Paul supplies carefully designed study materials. I don't want to over do it, but Paul is a gifted teacher of musical knowledge."
Thinking about purchasing a piano lessons DVD program? Here, Brick, NJ teacher Elizabeth C. shares her thoughts on this method of learning, and if it's really the best way to go...
You have probably seen the infomercials marketing piano lessons on DVD that guarantee you will be “playing the piano in six weeks or your money back.” These programs may be beneficial in teaching piano basics, but fall short in providing methodology that fosters long-term piano success or song versatility.