John Vitale-Heid Music Madison
John Vitale began playing guitar at age 12, teaching himself, after 7 years of studying classical piano with his father Vito, a much celebrated professional classical pianist and instructor. He began performing in 1968 in nightclubs with bands and orchestras around the Chicago area, and became fluent in Rock, Blues, Pop, R&B, Jazz, Country, and other styles. After seeing Andres Segovia in 1971, he became absorbed by the Spanish Classical guitar. Studies at the Jack Cecchini studio, and an eventual performance degree from Roosevelt University under Pamela Kimmel offered him a well-rounded musical education. Ms. Kimmel directed him to attend master classes and John studied with Oscar Ghiglia and Manuel Lopez-Ramos.
John was the Musical Director for the world traveled Free Street Theater in 1978 and 1981, and performed in the Jeff nominated musical “I’m getting my Act together” in 1980(Chicago) and 1982 (Chicago and Los Angeles). The musical was featured on the Donahue Show (TV) and the entire cast was up for a Jeff award for ensemble. John studied very briefly with the great jazz guitarist Joe Diorio in Los Angeles, and began a successful teaching practice in West Hollywood, CA while performing and recording.
After moving back to Chicago in 1984, he was lucky to meet his future wife, Susan. They have performed hundreds of times with their versatile ensemble “the Vitale Group”, and are comfortable with any musical style.
Now living in Middleton, WI (Madison) since 1999, John runs Vitale Music Productions, which includes recordings, live performances, Church concerts, and guitar instruction. John performs as a soloist, duo, and up to a 6 member ensemble, with a songlist in the hundreds.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of music?
I love to spend time with my family, here in Madison and in the Chicago area where my parents and brothers and sister live. I also am a voracious reader, especially autobiographies.
Tell us why you love teaching.
Spreading the joy of music, especially the guitar, is a wonderful thing. To see people enjoy the study of our beloved instrument is truly gratifying and also important. Especially in this day and age. Music feeds the soul!!
What is your favorite musical moment in your career?
I started many years ago so there are many. My Senior recital in 1978 was a great joy. Studying with the great teachers that I have been blessed to learn from - Pamela Kimmel, Jack Cecchini, Manuel Lopez-Ramos, Joe Diorio, and my Father, Vito Vitale. Performing across the US, National television, studio work, and playing with our band. I also love playing with Marilyn Fisher and Ken Kuehl at Liliana's restaurant every Tuesday, and at American Players Theater in the Summer.
Tell us about your group lessons.
I love to teach beginners the joy of guitar because it is so fun and easy to get started! Bringing people together who wouldn’t normally connect attend these sorts of workshops where they can feel comfortable about exploring a new and exciting aspect of life. We all have a blast together!