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February 2013 Teacher Spotlight

Mike Lee - Guitar Teacher, Heid Music Oshkosh

008[1] Click for video introduction
Michael studied jazz guitar and music theory at UW-Stevens Point. While at school, he performed in the guitar jazz ensemble and played euphonium in the concert band. Lessons in his studio consist of reading music, learning chords and above all, having fun. He has more than 20 years of experience teaching rock, country, blues and jazz. Teaching children to enjoy music is the best job he has.

What makes you a great guitar teacher? (In addition to the incredibly awesome facial expression tips - see below!)  I try to make the lessons fun. The old saying, "how do you make a guitar player stop playing? Put music in front of them!" Not in my studio. My students must learn to read music and we can do that whether it is using Taylor Swift or Metallica. Motivation to play is important. If I used a single method book approach, kids would be bored. Having fun is key to learning.
What is the best tip you can give to a beginning musician?  Play play play! When I first started the guitar, I would jam with anyone just to learn what they were doing. Even if I didn't appreciate that particular style, there is always something to be gained.
How old were you when you started guitar, and what made you decide to play?  True story. I took years of piano from about 3rd grade off and on into high school. Both of my parents are excellent pianists. My dad retired as a band director. In school I played trumpet, then euphonium, and valve trombone in jazz band. I was not great at any!!! Just before going off to college I bought a guitar and that changed everything. Since I didn't take a TV or car to college, I played guitar all the time. My studies suffered. The next semester I made jazz guitar my major and lived happily ever after. Late bloomer I was almost 19 when I started seriously. The piano and brass background made the transition possible. Or maybe I decided to play guitar because playing euphonium wasn't working in the "getting girls department"????

Tell us something unique about yourself. What do you like to do in your spare time, outside of musicI really enjoy biking. Last summer I put on a little over 1500 miles on my single speed bike. I have a YouTube channel. My daughter and I make silly videos of us throwing stuff out the 2nd story window... pumpkins, watermelon, or my favorite, broken computers and printers. I might have a few guitar videos and NONE are serious.
What is your favorite band or musical idol?  Why?  I love Jeff Beck.  He isn't super flashy but the guy has so much expression in his fingers. He can bend notes that make me want to quit. I'm also a bit of a Jeff Lynne freak. Oh, and there is Steve Vai, David Gilmour, and the Hellicasters. I own more YES music than anything in my CD collection.