Chris Rutkowski

Chris R.

Fort Wayne, IN

Lesson Details



Chris delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 7+

Teaching since:

My first musical language is jazz and the blues, which means I feel all American music, as the blues defines all of our music. I learned my craft from masters such as Marcus Belgrave in my hometown of Detroit, where I played in many Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festivals and toured with the Motown legends, The Temptations. I was always a composer, and that drive dominated the next stage of my career as a classical composer. I acquired a Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University and my works have been performed all over the world. I have just finished a commission for ten saxophone quartets, with premiers all over the nation to start in November, 2017. That much said, I have a deep respect for all forms of music, from Mozart to Miles Davis to John Mayer to Aretha Franklin. All are equally profound! And equally enjoyable!

I spent many years as college professor, where I taught classical composition, jazz piano, recording, film scoring and recording arts. Since leaving that world, I have been very happily and deeply engaged in gigging, teaching and writing the music that comes from deep in my soul and which expresses all my influences.

My approach to teaching also reflects all my skills, and starts with what you want to do with your music. If you want to develop your songwriting skills, we approach from any angle-harmony, development of basic ideas, or seeing what makes a Beatles or Beyonce tune work. If you want to develop your soloing chops, we can look at the deep traditions of jazz and blues. If you're an improvising player who wants to understand theory or develop your reading, I've got strong qualifications there. If you're a beginner, that's cool too! If you have a passion, then everything else follows with an experienced teacher. Bottom line-if you have an idea of where you want to go with your music, I probably have the experience to help you get there, no matter what the style!

I teach from my home studio, where I have a beautiful grand piano and many keyboards. I usually play bass with my students. I can provide customized backing tracks for you to practice with. I also teach on line. I can provide many testimonials from world-class professionals and former students who are now making a big splash.

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Creative Director
Jun 2000 - Present
LUNA Media

This is my production company, which publishes my classical compositions, provides entertainment with my various performing groups, provides music for film and media, etc.

Professor of Music Composition and Technology
Aug 2009 - Jul 2015

I created the Music Technology Program, taught classical composition, film scoring, jazz piano, and recording arts

Visiting Professor of Composition
Jul 2008 - Aug 2009
College of Wooster

I taught the entire Music Theory and Musicianship cycle, composition and jazz piano.

Jun 1992 - Jun 1992
The Temptations

I toured with the Temptations, traveling to Hong Kong, and had the profound experience of playing "My Girl" behind the great David Ruffin. History!


Doctor of Music in Composition
Aug 1992 - Jun 1996
Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University
Master of Arts in Piano Pedagogy
Aug 1988 - Jul 1992
Eastern Michigan University
Master of Arts in Music Theory and Composition
Jun 1987 - Jul 1992
Eastern Michigan University


Limited Proficiency
Limited Proficiency


ASCAP Standard Award
Sep 2012
Individual Artist Project Grant
Aug 2007
Indiana Arts Commission
Creative Arts Renewal Fellowship
Sep 2003
Indianapolis Arts Council
Individual Artist Fellowship
Sep 1996
Indiana Arts Commission/National Endowment for the Arts
Fine Arts Festival Music Award
Jun 1995
Illinois State University
Composition Award
Jul 1994
Michigan Music Teachers Association


American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
Jul 1990

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a membership association of more than 480,000 US composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers. The ASCAP is committed to nurturing music makers throughout their careers.

Photos & Videos

This is the first of 5 videos in my series, Studying Jazz Piano
Playing Brubeck's Take Five.  My solo starts at 3:55.
My group, the Cohen-Rutkowski Project performs the blues, "Twisted" with vocalist Renee Gonzales.
My group the Cohen-Rutkowski Project performs my piece, NOLA.
My reggae tune.
My group the Cohen-Rutkowski performs "Put It Where You Want It".
I wrote the film score for this film, distributed by Double Metre of Paris.  The entire score is sequenced with virtual instruments.
The last video in my series, "Studying Jazz Piano" where I talk about building an effective arrangement for live performance.
Video 4 in my series, "Studying Jazz Piano" about two jazz scales that I used in my solo in Video 2.
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3 Reviews

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Eric Jun 18, 2017
Piano · In studio

For Classical Piano, basic technique, Jazz Piano technique, and Jazz Theory you won't find a more competent, caring and deeply motivated piano teacher in the area. I know Chris primarily as a highly skilled, erudite Jazz Piano player, who is always willing to share his knowledge. Chris is well versed in many styles of play and can help you achieve your goals where-ever you may be at. As a jazz piano player/teacher myself, I would have no qualms about sending my students his way for new ideas, second opinions, etc. I recommend him.

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Fernando T. Jun 16, 2017
Songwriting · In studio

I am a TakeLessons instructor and I took composition lessons with Chris. I thought compositions lessons would make me a better songwriter and producer, but instead Chris taught me that I was a composer first. What I learned not only expanded my knowledge of the fundamentals of music theory but learned how to use my ear and trust my musical choices. I highly recommend Christ. He entirely a new expectation in myself as a musician.

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Taylor Jun 16, 2017
Songwriting · In home

In every lesson I would learn something new and take a new concept home to work through. Chris has an expansive knowledge perfect for shaping my interests in songwriting techniques and various piano styles.

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