Neil Kelly

Neil K.

San Jose, CA
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Lesson Details


Levels Taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
I've been teaching guitar for the past 15 years. I help students find their unique musical voice through the study of songs and techniques they are interested in. For younger students I also use the Hal Leonard guitar method books to learn music reading. As students advance we switch to William Levitt's Modern method for guitar for jazz students, or Christopher Parkening's classical guitar method for fingerstyle players. Students should be able to play chords to their favorite tunes within 6 weeks. I teach to inspire passion for music. If you love music it makes it fun to practice. When you practice it makes music fun!
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Neil teaches



Neil passed a background check that includes a SSN verification, national criminal record check, and sex offender registry search. Learn More
Neil delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 8+

Teaching since:
March 2000

I am a Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Arranger / and Band Leader and teacher who has been working in the greater San Francisco Bay area for the past 20 years. Originally from the East Coast and Chicago I arrived in California in 1992. I hold a Master's Degree in music from San Jose State University where I majored in Jazz guitar performance and composition / arranging. I have been passionately teaching guitar for the past 16 years to students of all ages. My goal is to teach you the music YOU want to learn while expanding your musical awareness. I am a patient and understanding teacher who will attempt to inspire students while pushing them to their playing potential. In addition to teaching I lead by example performing regularly in various Jazz ensembles. I have released 2 CD's of original “Rivers Converge" (2010) and "In Roads" (2015).

*** Lesson Details ***
I have played and studied extensively the styles of Jazz, Rock, Blues, Classical, electric and acoustic guitar. I begin lessons by teaching students the fundamentals of the instrument and after a basic grasp of the guitar is developed I encourage students to learn songs / styles of their choice so that the musical experience is inspriring for them. In the first few months beginning students will learn the architecture of the guitar: string names & numbers, finger numbers, fret numbers, tablature, chord diagrams, basic time signatures, strum patterns, chord charts. I divide guitar playing into 3 major principles: Lead playing / improvisation, Chord playing / accompaniment, and Melody / note reading. Lessons will reflect the development of these principles. Scales and arpeggios and music theory lead to improvisation. Chord playing, chord progressions, open chords, bar chords, & power chords are used to play rhythm guitar in songs of the student’s choice. Melody playing is developed through learning to read music. For reading studies I utilize the Hal Leonard Guitar method for beginners and William Levitt’s Modern Method for guitar for more advanced students. For Classical Guitar i work from Christopher Parkening's guitar Method 1 & 2 and Frederick Noad's "Art of Solo guitar Playing."

*** Studio Equipment ***
Room with Chairs, music stands, Amplifier and guitar cables.
*** Travel Equipment ***
students should have guitar, music stand and two arm-less chairs

*** Specialties ***
I specialize in Jazz. I have studied and played various Rock and Popular styles as well. I also teach classical guitar. I try to combine technique and music reading with the learning of songs that interest the student.

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Class Instructor
Sep 2001 - Jun 2016
City of San Jose Parks and Recreation Dept.

Since the fall of 2001 I have taught group classes in beginning and intermediate guitar. Ages 10 - 15 as well as Adult classes.

Music Instructor
Jul 2013 - Jul 2015
U Music percussion

I teach Improvisation to various age groups at the week long summer camp U Music Percussion hosts each year at San Jose State University. I lead groups of Vibraphone players through the basic elements of Jazz improvisation relevant to their level of playing.

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Master of Arts (Music - Jazz Studies)
Aug 2007 - May 2009
San Jose State university
Masters Degree Music (Jazz Studies)
Aug 2007 - May 2009
San Jose State Unisversity


Fluent / Native Proficiency


Outstanding Graduate Student
May 2009
San Jose State Unisversity


American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
Sep 2010

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

Photo by Neil K.

Photo by Neil K.

Photo by Neil K.
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7 Reviews

Write a Review
Jane D. Oct 10, 2018
Guitar · In studio

Neil is an amazing music teacher! I wanted to learn guitar from scratch and he worked around all of my obstacles. He is beyond patient, super easy to learn from, and highly reliable. He has a deep understanding of all aspects of music but if you're not interested in that, he'll just help you put your hands on the instrument and play. Highly recommend!!!

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Jane D. Dec 15, 2017
Guitar · In studio

Neil couldn't be better for a first-time player! Very patient and positive. Can't wait for the next lesson!

Inja K. Aug 14, 2017
Guitar · In studio

Very good !

Randy May 26, 2017
Guitar · In home

Neil is a very cool instructor. My 11 year old son and I are taking guitar lessons together with Neil and we both love it!
Neil is patient yet, he pushes us to achieve the next level. This is by far... a great investment for our lives.
Thank you Neil!

Randy Mar 25, 2017
Guitar · In home

We are still practicing an hour after he left. My son and I are energized and can't wait until the next lesson!

Juan M. Apr 9, 2015
Guitar · In home

Before Neil, my 9-yr old son had taken "group" lessons for a year that were unstructured and did little to expand my son's interest in playing (thankfully these were with friends so he stuck with it).

Having studied music very seriously, I helped him a little but knew that a real guitar teacher is what he needed. Neil is just what I was looking for! He has a very laid back "attitude" but he's laser focused on keeping things moving, keeping things light, and being totally encouraging. He also is very open to teaching rock and jazz and I can tell he just wants to teach a student whatever style/music type that will keep the student engaged. After every class my son has been satisfied and excited with what he's learning (and I stay and listen and get a kick out of it too). We drive quite a ways to get to his place, but it has been totally worth it. Thanks Neil! You RAWK!!

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robert V. Jul 11, 2013
Guitar ·

This course served my purpose

I have had only oneother guitar Teacher, and Neil was the Best of the 2. He is very easy to understand, and he makes it Fun and interesting. He is just a Great Teacher.

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