Guitar, Bass, Ukulele
Neil is a guitarist, composer, educator, and the founder of Montavilla Guitar Studio, a destination for anyone seeking support on their musical journey. Neil has taught more than 15,000 lessons during the past 20 years. During that time he has developed his own unique approach to teaching guitar that centers on building students’ confidence. Neil’s work is delivered through one-on-one lessons focused on developing musicianship and guitar skills.
What age were you when you first started taking music lessons?
Tell us about an early music lessons experience that helped shape you as a musician or teacher:
In my first semester at Wayne State University I had the opportunity to take a lesson with the visiting internationally renowned classical and jazz guitarist Fareed Haque. The lesson helped me discover a “pianistic” approach to constructing chords on the guitar. The lesson really ruined me for the remainder of my guitar work at the Wayne because it was such a different approach to the standard jazz guitar teaching model. That one lesson in a hotel room in Downtown Detroit fed my development for years to follow. Thanks, Fareed!
Who are your favorite bands or musicians?
Bill Frisell, Jim Hall, Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Jaco Pastorius, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Pat Metheny, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, J.S. Bach, Charlie Haden, Ornette Coleman, Andres Segovia.
Do you have a highlight of your music career so far that you would like to share?
Several years ago I had the opportunity to travel and perform with Detroit jazz legend Marcus Belgrave’s Louis Armstrong Tribute Band. We flew from Michigan and performed for sold out theater in Idaho Falls. The music, musicians, setting were truly memorable.
Describe your ideal student.
I’m looking for students who need a patient and intuitive teacher who can build up confidence by presenting the right lessons at each stage of development.
Describe what your students should expect in their first few music lessons.
We start with the basics: holding the guitar, right and left hand technique, learning note names. For the youngest students I introduce these topics through games and fun exercises, each lesson designed to build confidence.
Why did you want to become a music teacher?
I started teaching to pay the bills while I pursued my many professional music projects. After several years I decided to go “all in” for teaching and found the rewards to be immeasurable!
Interested in lessons with Neil? Get started!