Phillip Serna
Plainfield, IL
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Phillip Serna

Phillip S.

Plainfield, IL
Profile-background-check Background Check
This teacher successfully passed a thorough criminal background check with SterlingBackcheck. This badge verifies trusted teacher status.
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Levels taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

About Phillip S.

Double bassist and violist da gamba Phillip is an active and enthusiastic performer of contemporary, solo, orchestral, and chamber repertoires. As a double bassist, Phillip has performed with EChO – the Evanston Chamber Opera Company, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Illinois Symphony, Lake Forest Symphony, Musicians for Michiana, New Philharmonic, Northwest Indiana Symphony, Southwest Michigan Symphony, the Zohn Collective, and many others. In recent years, Phillip has emerged among the nation’s leading advocates of the viol – the viola da gamba. Phillip has emerged among the nation’s leading advocates of the viol – the viola da gamba. Co-founding the historical-performance ensembles Black Tulip, New Comma Baroque, ViolMedium, and the Spirit of Gambo – a Chicago Consort of Viols, he has appeared across the United States with groups ranging from the Burning River Baroque, the Chicago Early Music Consort, Les Touches, the Newberry Consort, and many others.

As a champion of a variety of new works for the viol, Phillip performed the U.S. premieres of Rudolph Dolmetsch’s Concertino for Viola da Gamba & Small Orchestra in 2012, Carl Friedrich Abel's Concerto Violo de Gambo in 2018 as well as being the 1st American gambist to perform ALL of Telemann’s once-lost 1735 Viola da Gamba Fantasias in 2017 - the 250th anniversary of Telemann's death. Phillip can be heard on WFMT Chicago, Wisconsin Public Radio, Milwaukee Public Radio, and on releases from Clarion, Cedille, and Varèse Sarabande Records.

Holding Masters and Doctoral degrees from Northwestern University, Phillip teaches at Valparaiso University, North Central College, the Music Institute of Chicago and has served as assistant director of Illinois’ first public-school period-instrument program at Adlai E. Stevenson High School. Phillip has served on the faculties of the Madison Early Music Festival, the Whitewater Early Music Festival, and is the music director of Viols in Our Schools earning him Early Music America’s 2010 Laurette Goldberg Award for lifetime achievement in Early Music outreach. Study a variety of modern and period instruments with this versatile artist now.

*** Lesson Details ***
Private instruction is a vital part of a student's education. My job as a specialist is to work on detailed technical concepts, help the student be more effective and efficient on their instrument, and expose students to a variety of repertoire and styles, accelerating their progress from a beginner to an effective musician.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Double Bass
4-String Vielle
6-String Treble Viola da Gamba
7-String Bass Viola da Gamba
7-String Elecctric Guitar
6-String Bass Guitar

*** Travel Equipment ***
Hyundai Ionic Wagon

*** Specialties ***
Double Bass, Violas da Gamba (Treble Viol, Tenor Viol, Bass Viol, Violone), Vielle, Bass Guitar & Guitar


Write a Review
7 Reviews
Profile-location-online Online

Dr. Serna is such a kind, patient, and super funny teacher. I took viola da gamba lessons from him for a few months during the height of the pandemic as kind of a passion project, and it was awesome! Highly recommend.

Posted Jul 10, 2021
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Dr. Serna is a masterful musician and teacher who is easy going and tailors the lessons to your needs. He had a vast wealth of knowledge in music and history and could not be a kinder person. You will advance quickly under the tutelage of Dr. Serna and have fun doing it.

Posted Jul 9, 2021
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Dr Serna has instructed my daughter on the Double Bass for a few years now. He has come to her school for weekly lessons and in-home. She has improved immensely with his instruction. Dr Serna is knowledgeable, personable and is very good at what he does.

Posted Jul 7, 2021
Profile-location-online Online

I have taken lessons from Dr. Serna for bass viol for three years. First in my home, then on-line due to Corona virus restrictions. I appreciate Dr. Serna's extensive education, which presents during our lesson in a variety of ways. First, in his knowledge of repertoire for the instrument. He is undaunted by any piece in inquire about. Second, he discusses music theory when teaching a piece of music, which strengthens my understanding. Third, he has played multiple instruments, including classical guitar. As I also played classical guitar, this has provided some creative and enjoyable synergy. He also pulls from his double bass technique to assist with teaching the bass viol. Fourth, he is keenly observant and notices subtle position faults, etc., even over Zoom calls! Amazing! Finally, he is patient and takes the long view in teaching the student. He is able to notice what is good/improving even when I am struggling with something. His lessons are light-hearted and positive.

Posted Jul 6, 2021
Profile-location-home Student's Home

His technical skills across his many instruments are peerless, and his pedagogical skills are equally impressive. He knows musical theory, history, pedagogy, and practice scarily well, and he is by far the most fun, kind, and committed teacher I’ve ever had. I took lessons with him for six years on upright and electric, for solo, jazz, and orchestral work, and I played in Grammy-winning ensembles by the last year. I’m pursuing a music minor largely thanks to him, and he remains the professor who impresses me most. You’re going to take lessons, so take them with him.

Posted Jul 5, 2021
Jackson Roush
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Dr. Serna is a consummate and devoted professional. His guidance is firm and compassionate, and there is not an ounce of musical prejudice in his body. A true musician and teacher.

Posted Jul 5, 2021
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Dr. Serna is incredibly knowledgeable with a huge variety of expertise. He lives and breathes music and it is evident in the passion he provides in lessons. A super nice teacher as well, one can never go wrong with going with Dr. Serna for studies!

Posted Jul 5, 2021

Photos & Videos

27 Photos & Videos


Double Bass
May 2019 - Present

5th Wave Collective

Double Bass
Mar 2019 - Present

EChO, The Evanston Chamber Opera Company

Baroque Double Bass/ Violone
Nov 2018 - Present

Bella Voce Sinfonia (Historical-Performance Ensemble)

Viola da Gamba (Treble Viol, Tenor Viol, Lyra Viol & Bass Viol) & Violone
Aug 2018 - Present

ViolMedium (Historical-Performance Ensemble)

Adjunct Instructor of Double Bass
Sep 2016 - Present

North Central College

Instructor of Double Bass, Viola da Gamba & Viol Consort
Sep 2015 - Present

Music Institute of Chicago

Double Bass Faculty & Chamber Music Coach
Jul 2015 - Present

OPUS Chamber Music Camp

Viola da Gamba (Treble Viol, Tenor Viol, Lyra Viol & Bass Viol) & Violone
Jan 2012 - Present

New Comma Baroque (Historical-Performance Ensemble)

Adjunct Instructor of Double Bass & Violas da Gamba
Aug 2008 - Present

Valparaiso University

Section Double Bass
Oct 2002 - Present

Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

Assistant Director of Baroque Ensemble, Director of the Patriot & Stevenson Viol Consorts, Club Sponsor
Aug 2011 - Mar 2020

Adlai E. Stevenson High School (Historical-Performance Ensembles)

Section Double Bass
Apr 2006 - Jul 2018

Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra

Viola da Gamba (Treble Viol, Tenor Viol, Lyra Viol & Bass Viol) & Violone
Dec 2006 - Nov 2017

The Spirit of Gambo - a Chicago Consort of Viols (Historical-Performance Ensemble)

Principal Double Bass
May 2012 - Jul 2017

Valparaiso Rhapsody Summer Festival Orchestra

Double Bass & Viola da Gamba
Jun 2010 - May 2016

North Shore Chamber Arts Ensemble

Principal Double Bass
Oct 2003 - Nov 2012

Northbrook Symphony Orchestra

Violas da Gamba (Treble Viol, Tenor Viol & Bass Viol) & Vielle
Nov 2005 - May 2011

Chicago Early Music Consort (Historical-Performance Ensemble)

Viola da Gamba (Bass Viol)
Nov 2009 - Nov 2010

Duo Fantaisie en Echo (Historical-Performance Ensemble)


Doctor of Music, DMus - Music Performance (Double Bass & Viola da Gamba)
Sep 2001 - Aug 2007

Northwestern University Henry & Leigh Bienen School of Music

Master of Music, MMus - Music Performance (Double Bass & Viola da Gamba)
Sep 1999 - Jun 2001

Northwestern University Henry & Leigh Bienen School of Music

Bachelor of Music, BMus - Music Performance (Double Bass)
Aug 1995 - Dec 1998

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

High School Diploma - Music Performance (Double Bass)
Aug 1991 - Jun 1995

High School for the Performing & Visual Arts


Limited Proficiency

Limited Proficiency

Limited Proficiency

Fluent / Native Proficiency


Paraprofessional Certification, 23 IL Adm. Code 25.510
Sep 2007

Illinois State Board of Education


Laurette Goldberg Award for Lifetime Achievement in Early Music Outreach
Jun 2010

Early Music America


Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America
Jul 2013
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America (also known as Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Mu Alpha, or simply Sinfonia) is an American collegiate social[1] fraternity for men with a special interest in music. The fraternity is open to men "who, through a love for music, can assist in the fulfillment of [its] Object and ideals either by adopting music as a profession, or by working to advance the cause of music in America."
The Chicago Federation of Musicians
Sep 2001
The Chicago Federation of Musicians is an organization of almost three thousand professional musicians. For more than 100 years, the CFM has been working to achieve dignity and just wages for our art. Our members perform in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera Orchestra, The Redwalls, the orchestras for Chicago’s Broadway shows. We represent musicians performing all styles of music: alternative rock, soul, classical, jazz, rock, country, pop, reggae, Christian rock, and others. Our members are active in recording commercials, television and radio programs and CD's, and perform for private and corporate parties locally and throughout North America.
Early Music America
Aug 2001
Early Music America (EMA) is a not-for-profit service organization for the field of historical performance in North America. Founded in 1985, EMA's goal is to expand awareness of, and interest in, the music of the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods. EMA's members receive a quarterly magazine, monthly e-newsletter, and benefits including access to reduced-rate insurance, discounts on publications, concerts, and festivals, and eligibility for grants, awards and scholarships. With its broad membership, including professional performers, ensembles, presenters, instrument makers, amateur musicians, and audience members, Early Music America serves as an advocate for the field throughout the continent.
International Society of Bassists
Aug 1994
The International Society of Bassists was founded by the world-renowned virtuoso Gary Karr in 1967. With nearly 3,000 members in over 40 countries, the ISB publishes a triannual magazine, Bass World, with an eclectic mix of articles about soloists, jazz and orchestral players, early music, pedagogy, international personalities and orchestras and reviews of new print music and recordings, plus monthly e-newsletters and communications.

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