Phil Circle

Phil C.

Chicago, IL

About Phil C.

Background check: Last verified 02/21/2017
Phil passed a background check on 02/21/2017 that included the following:
  • National Criminal Record Check
  • County/State Criminal Record Check
  • Sex Offender Registry Search
  • SSN Trace & Verification
For more information, please click here.
Phil teaches: Ages 12 to 90
Teaching since: January 1990
Last sign in: Yesterday


I've taught both privately and in the classroom (in schools from Pre-K to college, and through workshops), and have been a working musician and teacher for more than 25 years. I have a degree in music from Columbia College Chicago (Summa Cum Laude). My students have included everyone from absolute beginners to working professionals like myself. Many of my students have gone on to careers in music as performers, songwriters and/or teachers.

My approach in private instruction involves tailoring the lessons to the specific needs of each student, while making sure that he/she has the knowledge and technique to succeed in their creative endeavors. Whether it's a hobby or a potential career, I leave nothing out. You will learn the entire instrument. In cases where a student works in more than one subject, one session can typically be applied to all/both of them. I strive to help every student find their own creative voice, while building the skill sets required to work in any style of music.

I also offer group lessons for 3 or more students. For friends at similar skill levels, this can offer a fun and more affordable way to learn a subject. It also serves as an additional motivator as the students in the group feed off of each other for ideas and inspiration.

Please feel free to contact me with the "Ask Phil a Question" button on my profile here. This can include questions about my method, or regarding days and times for lessons. What you see in my availability here is based on my schedule away from TakeLessons. I have students elsewhere and perform shows regularly. I may have additional times available and tend to have some flexibility. I teach worldwide online. Just ask.

As soon as you're ready to book lessons, you can use the Green Button after selecting your area of study, day and time. I will receive a notification that you've signed up. I will then confirm with you and send a questionnaire regarding your lesson needs within 48 hours.

Thanks for your interest.

I look forward to working with you!

Photos and Videos

A clip from a show near Chicago. The song we're playing is "Crossroads" by Robert Johnson, as done by so many rock and blues players.


Music Instructor
Sep 2016 - Present
Flatts and Sharpe Music

I began teaching here immediately after my return to Chicago.

This is where I prefer to take younger students, since they have a lobby for parents. When I'm not here, I'm in my home studio. I also do house calls, going to the family residence to conduct lessons. I am fully vetted by Flatts and Sharpe, as well as TakeLessons.

In addition to teaching privately one day a week at each of their two locations, I coach some of the student bands for the quarterly "Flatts and Sharpe Rock Show" at a major Chicago venue.

Music Instructor
Jan 1991 - Present
Private Studio

I've been teaching privately from either a home studio or an rented space since I first took on a private student in 1991.
1993 is when I began teaching part time in the schools and private instruction became a more serious endeavor.
Since then, I've continued to streamline my approach to better accommodate the needs of my students.
I also make house calls and teach groups of three or more. I'm located in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood on the western edge close to Evanston and Skokie.

Singer Songwriter Guitarist
Mar 1986 - Present
Guilt By Association Records

I've been a working singer, songwriter, guitarist for 30 years. I've released eight CDs to positive reviews, and toured nationally.
I perform regularly both in the Chicago area and regionally. My performances vary from solo acoustic to 3-piece to a full electric band.
I have appeared on several Chicago radio shows and often return to many of them, even co-hosting on occasion. I've received media attention nationally.
I have also produced extensively.
I have a synch licensing deal with a record label in California.

Music Instructor
Sep 2010 - Sep 2013
Eau Claire Music School

I was a private instructor in guitar, bass, ukulele, and voice. I also conducted a couple of workshops in songwriting. My roster included about 20 thirty minute lessons a week, at its peak.

Music Instructor
Mar 1997 - May 2005
Quinlan and Fabish Music

As a private instructor in guitar, bass and voice, I also started a summer program for student bands. Two other teachers and I would combine students of various instruments, teach them a short set of music, and put on a show, all in one to two weeks with daily rehearsals. My roster at Quinlan and Fabish included 55 thirty minute lessons a week, at its peak.

Music Teacher
Sep 1993 - Jun 1999
Fran Center (Catholic Schools)

I was a classroom teacher of General Music for several Chicago Catholic Schools, as placed by Fran Center, and educational provider for parochial schools.
I taught from Pre-K through 8th Grade.
I also occasionally subbed for other subjects, directed the choirs, and put together classroom shows with the students.
At my busiest, I taught from 8:30am to 2:30pm Monday through Friday.

Music Production Assistant
Jun 1994 - Jun 1995
Columbia College Chicago / Chicago Jazz Ensemble

While attending Columbia College Chicago, I was the production assistant for The Chicago Jazz Ensemble and personal assistant to their conductor William Russo. Russo was also a ground breaking composer and the founder/artistic director of the Contemporary American Music Program at Columbia.
This experience allowed me a great deal of insight into the real world of music, not to mention the mentoring I received from Russo and many of his contemporaries regarding the craft of music. Through this job I met and spoke with many legendary figures in jazz and blues.

Music Tutor and Teacher's Aide
Jun 1994 - Jun 1995
Columbia College Chicago

Beginning in my second semester as a student at Columbia College, I was asked to be a private tutor and to work in the classroom as a teacher's aide for the music program.
I was able to hone my approach to private teaching through tutoring. As a teacher's aide, I watched an experienced classroom teacher in action and gained insight into ways to engage a larger group. Both of these part time jobs also allowed me to tighten my understanding of music theory to the benefit of my own work at the time, as a student and teacher.


Interdisciplinary Arts
Sep 1998 - Jun 1999
Columbia College Chicago
Music Composition and Performance
Feb 1994 - Jun 1997
Columbia College Chicago

Languages Spoken

Fluent / Native Proficiency


Summa Cum Laude (Honors Graduate)
Jun 1997
Columbia College Chicago

I graduated in the top of my class at Columbia College Chicago. My diploma was presented with honors.


Best Of 2017
Apr 2017
Best Actor In A Dramatic Role Nomination
May 2008
Chicago Actors Studio
Presidential Scholarship
Sep 1994
Columbia College Chicago


May 2009

Broadcast Music Inc. was founded in 1939 by forward-thinkers who wanted to represent songwriters in emerging genres, like jazz, blues and country, and protect the public performances of their music. Operating on a non-profit-making basis, BMI is now the largest music rights organization in the U.S. and is still nurturing new talent and new music.

10 Reviews on Phil C.

Write a Review
CJ A. Mar 10, 2017
· Vocal Training · Online
Sunny H. Jan 31, 2017
· Ukulele · In home Phil is an absolute delight! We had a great time working with Phil learning the basics of Ukulele. He prepared a great lesson for us while creating a fun atmosphere for people of different musical backgrounds. Highly recommend Phil!
Greg Jan 10, 2017
· Blues Guitar · In studio Phil is a phenomenal teacher - right from the start, he will get you on track with exercises and practice routines that keep you focused on learning to play the guitar. He will cover the areas that you must know to become proficient on the guitar, including forms, modes, chords and progressing toward learning to read music.

After struggling to teach myself to play the guitar, I realized that I had hit a wall in my self-instructed learning and I needed to find a guitar teacher. I found Phil through word of mouth - and I have made great progress under his tutelage.

If you want to learn to play the guitar, Phil is the teacher you want - if you just want to learn to play songs, well, there’s YouTube.
Mark Jan 6, 2017
· Guitar · In studio Took vocal and guitar lessons from Phil and both helped me tremendously and gave me the skills needed to be a professional musician. Highly recommended!
Sarah Jan 4, 2017
· Singing · In studio Phil has been so great to learn from. He is very professional and I appreciate the way he gives meaningful and honest criticism when needed. It took some time, but I'm not shy about my voice anymore! Thank you, Phil!
John Jan 4, 2017
· Vocal Training · In studio Are you kidding me??
Who is still trying to figure out how great Phil Circle is at what he does?
He's well known for a reason: he's the best.

His approach to voice (with me, at least) is to address the entire body as part of your instrument. By making me aware of everything from my posture to keeping my jaw loose, he has drastically improved my range and control!!

He's an amazing guitar player & songwriter too and I often run into fellow musicians that have studied with him for those things also, but I (for now) only have experience with him for voice lessons. He has me sing through exercises with guitar that are hugely helpful- singing octaves, matching note and timbre, etc.
It's a vocal workout! But it gets results and he really makes it a ton of fun!!
Megan Nov 6, 2016
· Vocal Training · In studio Phil has the techniques and know-how to get the best out of you vocally. He'll also work with you on music theory if asked, which helped me greatly with improving my ear. Outstanding and highly recommended teacher!!
Dave Nov 4, 2016
· Guitar · In studio At 39 I decided it was time to learn to play guitar, I had wanted to do it for years but just hadn't. So I bought an electric guitar and played around for a month or so before deciding lessons were in order.

I shopped around for someone cheap, don't do that, they are cheap for a reason. I eventually came across Phil and we hit it off well. He is very well versed in blues and rock music which I was looking for. He knows music theory and breaks it down well. He's a straight shooter and will call you out when you're lazy, but always gives kudos and encouragement when appropriate.

It's nice when your teacher has practical real world experience to back up the teaching. Phil can back up his teaching and truly loves entertaining people, he puts on a great live show.

I would certainly recommend Phil as a teacher as well as a musician. Phil is a "Rock Star"!

Years later I am still playing guitar and now bass with a band several times a week and having a blast.

Thanks Phil.
Ed Nov 3, 2016
· Vocal Training · In studio Phil is great. I took vocal training lessons from him years ago and still use training materials we created. My voice improved a lot, it's clearer and stronger now, thanks to Phil. Add to it that I sing in different language and Phil was able to customize his lessons to accommodate it and you have a best teacher your money can buy. Speaking of money - the rates were very reasonable! You can't go wrong with Phil as a teacher!
Jeremy Nov 3, 2016
· Singing · In studio Phil is a great teacher. He really helped give me confidence in my ability to sing. And the lessons I had with him gave me skills that I can always go back to when I need to practice or warm up. I highly recommend him.
Phil Circle
Phil C.

Previously Viewed