Chicago Area Guitar Teachers
Ben Cruz is a guitarist, composer, and educator based in Chicago, IL. His music draws from a variety of traditions, combining forward-thinking composition with an emphasis on improvisation. Ben began playing guitar at the age of twelve, and studied jazz and improvisation from New York City-based guitarist Vic Juris. Ben went on to study history and jazz performance at Oberlin College and Conservatory, where he was mentored by Bobby Ferrazza, Dan Wall, Jamey Haddad, Jay Ashby, Paul Samuels, Billy Hart, and Brian Alegant.
Ben has performed with Gerald Clayton, Billy Drewes, Phil Markowitz, Billy Childs, Vijay Iyer, Anat Cohen, Dominick Farinacci, and Petros Klampanis, among others. His experiences working with esteemed musicians from many different traditions have made him a collaborative, versatile musician who nonetheless maintains a distinct musical voice.
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Leah Jean brings a humble persona and fresh perspective to the Chicago music scene. She has studied pop, classical, and jazz guitar for 11 years. Leah attended Columbia College Chicago where she earned her Bachelors of Music degree in Contemporary, Urban and Popular Music. In addition to studying guitar, Leah is an avid singer-songwriter and is known for her infectious melodies, soul-jazz style, and unique vocal timbre. She has performed at various Chicago events and venues including TEDx Columbia College, Uncommonground, Beat Kitchen, The Fox Hole, Elbo Room, Emporium Chicago, PRYSM Nightclub, Rhyme or Reason, The Gwen Hotel, Stellar Wine Company, Martyrs', The Metro and The Gala. Her debut project Comme Je Trouve the EP was released last fall and is available on Spotify and Apple Music.
Leah is excited to be a part of the Henderson Academy team! As a child of parents
who have both been teachers, Leah understands how much impact a good teacher can
have on a student. Leah hopes to pass along her musical knowledge to aspiring
guitarists and inspire their growth as a musician and human!
Michael Silvestri is an American recording artist, singer/songwriter, guitarist, teacher, & producer. His own music style emulates folk and rock. Mike brings a unique style of playing guitar to the table as a session musician, and each of the 200+ shows he plays every year. There are many different types of music to learn for each of the shows, which makes him an extremely versatile guitarist, and a master at learning songs extraordinary quickly. Be sure to check out his music on any digital music streaming site.
Joe Turzy is a Chicago based guitarist and performer. He is currently a resident in Albany Park finishing his degree in Classical Guitar. He has studied under Dr. Brian Torosian at Northeastern Illinois University for over six years and has learned techniques passed on from Andres Segovia, Oscar Ghiglia and other Segovia Students. While in school, Joseph has studied a wide variety of guitar music including the works of Leo Brouwer, Manuel Ponce, Matteo Carcassi, JS Bach, D Scarlatti, Fernando Sor and Barrios. If you are considering an audition for college he can help prepare you for your college degree.
Before he was in Music School, Joe Turzy was mostly playing electric guitar and still to this day works with newer bands in studios and on the stage. He also enjoys playing and teaching Classic Rock, Indie Rock and Folk Music. His goals as a teacher are to help students better understand reading music, music theory, performing on stage and writing music. He is able to cater to many styles and genres and will always prepare his students for what they want to learn.
Peder Simon is a classically trained percussionist, drummer, and composer who recently moved to Chicago. He has been playing drum set for ten years, experimenting with everything from traditional jazz to heavy metal. Peder graduated in 2016 with a bachelors degree in music composition from William Jewell College. Shortly after, he turned to teaching private lessons and discovered the joy in helping others find their own rhythm and groove.
Peder also dabbles in guitar, bass, piano, hammered dulcimer, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He has written and performed two solo albums under the moniker Nirensimt, and he performed several times as a member of the William Jewell Jazz Combo when he was living in Kansas City. Peder continually seeks other artists for collaborations, hoping to have fun while expanding his musical horizons.
Natalie Finamore is a 20-year-old musician and audio engineer currently earning her bachelor’s degree in Music Composition at Columbia College Chicago. She is passionate about music and inspiring others to learn through positive lesson experience. She has been playing piano for 10 years, guitar for 8, and has also had professional vocal training for 8 years. Natalie is new to professional teaching but has been giving informal lessons to friends and family for years.
Natalie participated in musical theater and bands all through high school, and was a member of Jazz Ensemble, Choir, and Handbell Ensemble at Whitter College in Whittier, CA. She is currently a member of several bands.
Dan began his musical journey by taking piano lessons at the age of 7. He picked up the guitar at age 14, studying with various teachers in the Chicago area. Finding himself drawn to both acoustic and electric styles, he took both classical and jazz guitar in college. When a retiring professor turned over to Dan his roster of private guitar students, the first steps on a new path as a guitar instructor had begun. While building up his teaching practice, Dan began playing with several rock and Top 40 bands.
After graduating from Northeastern Illinois University with a degree in music education, a desire to explore the world of songwriting and recording led to a year of study at the Berklee College of Music. Dan produced a CD of guitar instrumental music (GUITARSCAPES) in 2006. The track "Shakir" received an honorable mention in the VH1 Song of the Year contest and the CD was reviewed in 20th Century Guitar magazine.
In 2009, Dan released a 9-song vocal rock CD called MEN WHO LISTEN in which he worked with his first renowned producer, Gary Loizzo from Styx. He produced a second 4-song EP with Gary in 2011 called MEN WHO LISTEN 2. Beginning work on the third MWL CD in 2012, Dan was invited to work with Stuart Epps of Elton John and Led Zeppelin fame. Dan has signed three music publishing deals and his original music has been played on over 150 radio stations.