My Education, Accolades, and Experience
I studied guitar performance at Berklee College of Music and Lewis & Clark College. I was awarded the Lewis & Clark College Dean’s Scholarship for creative writing during my career there, which inspired me to pursue my BA in Literature and Writing, providing me with integral skills for songwriting and teaching. I continued to study guitar through private guitar lessons and master classes and have had the privilege to study with Paul Gilbert, Mimi Fox, Andy Timmons, Scotty Johnson, Dan Balmer, Mark White, and John Stowell.
Since 2006 I have worked as a professional musician writing music and performing with a range of touring bands as guitarist, vocalist, keyboardist, and bassist. I’ve written, recorded, produced, and performed for numerous studio recordings, and in 2011 I began working with theater companies in Chicago as a composer, music director, musician, and actor.
I have been teaching private guitar lessons since 2013 with students of all ages and skill levels.
My Approach to Teaching Guitar Lessons
Guitar lessons should be a fun thing to learn. I like to get new students started learning to play familiar songs right away so they can build confidence while understanding the basics of playing the instrument. More advanced students can expect to improve their skills with music notation, rhythm and chord vocabulary, and to refine their sense of musicality for leads, improvisation, and song-writing.
Playing with a group is one of the best musical experiences you can have. Rock Band classes are a great opportunity for my students to gain ensemble experience, learn about arranging and song-writing, and gain an understanding of concert production and performance. Students will learn to respond musically to their fellow band mates by building a repertoire of their favorite songs and composing music together as a group.
One of My Practice Techniques
If you can improve 1% every day, after 100 days you’ll be 100% better. Pick a long-term goal and work at it every day, making it a mandatory part of your practice routine. Don’t make it a huge time commitment, just 15 minutes. For example, being a good sight-reader will set you apart from 90% of guitarists, so practice sight-reading everyday for the next 100 days. Pick a method book (without tablature) or a sight reading book, and read a few pages with a metronome, the next day pick up where you left off, until there are no more pages and you need another book.
My Favorites in These Five Styles
- Metal – Megadeth
- Pop – Paramore
- Classical – Benjamin Britten
- Blues – Howlin’ Wolf
- Alternative – Siouxsie and the Banshees
My Favorite Quote
“If I’m true to what’s in my heart, that’s all the success I need” –Steve Vai
How I Started Playing Music
At age five I saw the film La Bamba which inspired me to start an air guitar band, performing nightly in our living room to a very supportive audience made up mostly of friends and family. I began guitar lessons at the age of 9, first learning the 12-bar blues and later studying with a classical guitarist who helped me to greatly improve my technique, teaching me practice routines and assigning repertoire for performance. As I improved, my musical sense and creativity developed so much that I would transcribe entire heavy metal albums by ear and write prolifically for my high school rock band.
While I think our personal drive for music fuels a lot of growth, I have always felt that after a good lesson, and the practice sessions that follow, my skills increase dramatically and that any sort of creative barriers become easier to overcome thanks to the outside perspective and guidance of a great teacher.