As one of the capitals of art and culture in the American Midwest, Chicago is a fantastic place to learn to play the guitar!

Not sure what do to with your Gibson les Paul or Fender Stratocaster sitting in your house collecting dust? If you live in or close to Chicago and have always wanted learn how to play the guitar, improve your guitar playing, or discover a new style of music, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to music schools, conservatories and private instructors for learning your favorite 6-string instrument.

And don’t forget about the incredible choices for attending gigs and concerts in a range of venues and genres – Chicago is a thriving hub for local and touring international musicians!

Filled with classic theaters dating back to the early 1900s and new underground venues that draw on the city’s rich live music tradition, Chicago is a great city for music lovers. Why not listen to some Indie Rock at Empty Bottle, country rock in Hideout, jazz at Green Mill or even classical music by the Chicago Symphony??

The grandiose Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall. Photo: Visual Hunt
The grandiose Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall. Photo: Visual Hunt

Private guitar lessons in Chicago

Want to learn the difference between frets and tabs, perfect those chord progressions, or learn to riff like Chuck Berry? Guitar classes are accessible to all levels, whether you’re an absolute beginner or a professional guitarist hoping to perfect your playing. They are also ideal for learning how to improvise on the guitar or strumming methods, for example.

Guitar instructors are passionate professionals who work according to a training method with the aim of providing the highest quality of instruction. But you must be careful when choosing your music teacher, as really anyone can profess to be an accredited teaching musician, regardless of training or background.

So we strongly recommend that you meet your prospective instructor’s other students, discover his or her learning method, ask whether he or she specializes in acoustic guitar or electric guitar, and listen to him or her play in order to form your own opinion. Don’t hesitate to lead a little inquiry to discover if your instructor has won any awards or given concerts, and learn about his or her music career.

We recommend that a private instructor has a conservatory education as well as teacher training and performance experience: the ability to teach guitar does not “teach” itself, it requires a lot of effort and numerous personal qualities. Remember that all of these factors will determine the various price of your private lessons.

Next, you’ll need to meet your potential guitar instructor: training on an instrument like the guitar is also a question of feeling and chemistry between instructor and student. In fact, we recommend that you meet several guitar instructors to compare their methods and vision of teaching.

Find the best guitar lessons near me here.

Don't settle on just any guitar instructor, find the one who is perfectly suited to your needs! Photo: Visual Hunt
Don't settle on just any guitar instructor, find one who is perfectly suited to you! Photo: Visual Hunt

The city of Chicago is teeming with talented individuals who offer guitar and solfège instruction, who will teach you how to improve, learn to play a chord or arpeggio, develop a certain technique and discover another music style (blues, rock, classic, flamenco, reggae, funk, pop, country, etc.) Why not go to your local music shop or consult the ads in your library or community center to get some contact details?

One option could be the Chicago School of Music (900 N Franklin St., #604, Chicago, IL / 312-416-0622), which offers high-quality private guitar lessons (as well as piano, voice, violin and others) for adults and children of all leves, as well as training for music teachers.

Or better still, find yourself a Superprof!

Chicago music conservatories

And for those interested in specializing in guitar for your higher education, there are a range of options available. If you desire a higher level of guitar playing with a disciplined methodology, the conservatory is the ideal place. In addition to music instruction, most conservatories also propose a dance and performance arts curriculum.

It can be difficult and competitive to get accepted into these institutions, but that shouldn’t stop you from dreaming and applying yourself! In addition to the playing requirements, you should do your research in advance to know what you’ll need in order to apply (all the necessary documents and deadlines).

They are portals into an artistic universe and professional playing; by enrolling in a conservatory, you’ll develop and hone your ability to interpret and play music while becoming an artist in your own right.

Begin your search by looking into the highly reputed Chicago College of Performing Arts (Roosevelt University) and the DePaul School of Music. Next you might also check out the music departments in any of Chicago’s many colleges and universities.

Music rounds out our education. Photo: Visual Hunt
Music rounds out our education. Photo: Visual Hunt

Music schools in Chicago

The city of Chicago proposes a multitude of possibilities so that everyone can express him or herself in all possible ways via the arts and culture.

On that note, guitar instruction is incredibly accessible in and around Chicago. Numerous music schools flourish in the city, so that, no matter where you live, you’ll be able to easily access one of them. Read on to find the perfect place to teach you the difference between a major chord, power chord and an open chord!

Whatever type of instruction you choose, remember that practice makes perfect! Photo: Visual Hunt
Whatever type of instruction you choose, remember that practice makes perfect! Photo: Visual Hunt

Here’s a nice sampling of high-quality music schools in Chicago:

  • The Hyde Park School of Music (608-207-6316) provides quality music lessons for guitar, piano, voice, songwriting, home recording and music production for children and adults, from beginner to advanced. Serving Chicago’s South Side, it teaches all musical styles including rock, folk, R&B, hip-hop, metal, jazz, country, pop, blues, funk, gospel, classical and electronic music.
  • The Merit School of Music (38 S Peoria St., Chicago, IL 60607 / 312-786-9428) offers early childhood classes, instrumental classes and private lessons. They also have a ground-breaking tuition free conservatory and summer camp. Students also have the opportunity to perform in several groups such as jazz , Latin inspired string and chamber music ensembles. Guitar features predominantly across its range of instruction options.
  • Bucktown Music (1890 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647 / 773-904-7426) offers a rich and wide range of music education options via programs for children, adults and schools. This includes both private and group lessons for all instruments, levels and ages.
  • The Chicago Academy of Music Conservatory (5655 S University Ave., Chicago, IL 60637 / 312-380-1644) offers private lessons, as well as early childhood programs, and the possibility to play in ensembles and orchestras (improv jazz, Latin music and new music orchestras) for both children and adults. Its unique curriculum and pedagogy allows accomplished professional musicians to share their talents with beginner and advanced students in the genres of jazz, classical, Latin, blues, world art music, and contemporary.
  • The Music Institute of Chicago (several locations / 847-905-1500) is a community music school dedicated to transforming lives through music education, striving to lead everyone in its community toward a lifelong engagement with music. It offers group music classes, opportunities to play with others in small music ensembles, master classes with visiting artists, and even consultation with creative arts therapists! Instruction is available for classical guitar, lute, jazz/folk guitar, banjo and electric bass for all ages!

Cultural and community centers for learning music in Chicago

Are you looking for a different guitar class experience in Chicago? Want to learn to tune your guitar and perfect your guitar chords outside of a conservatory or music school?

Fortunately, there are numerous Chicago associations that promote the arts and culture.

Here are a few great places to learn to tell the difference between a fretboard and guitar neck, among other things!

  • The People’s Music School (931 W. Eastwood Ave., Chicago, IL 60640 / 773-784-7032) offers high-quality and tuition-free music education. You read that right, for no price at all, you can have access to intensive music instruction and performance opportunities!
  • Chicago Center for Music Education (1148 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60642 / 312-738-2646): offers Early Childhood, General Music, Instrumental Music and Music Therapy programs, as well as summer camp. This fantastic place offers guitar training for kids in various musical styles, including classical, jazz, blues, tock, and Latin/Mariachi. Special focus is given to tone production and posture, hand position, and use of body, for students of all levels, from beginners to advanced, 4 years and up. This might be the perfect place for you to learn bar chords, tablatures, fingerpicking and ear training?
  • Two other interesting centers to check out: Chicago West Community Music Center and Gary Comer Youth Center!

Remember that key to any music education – guitar included – is what you do outside of the classroom. Practicing is the only way you’ll improve your guitar playing. Furthermore, make sure to listen to as much music as you can to become acquainted with the trends and talents in contemporary and historic music.

When it comes to Chicago’s live music venues, perhaps no place has been mythologized quite as much as Metro (3730 North Clark St.). Just north of the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field ballpark, the stage of Metro has been graced by the likes of Bob Dylan, James Brown, Prince and Nirvana.

If only you could have been in the audience at Chicago's when Bob Dylan performed! Photo: Visual Hunt
If only you could have been in the audience at Chicago's Metro when Bob Dylan performed! Photo: Visual Hunt

One of two clubs in Chicago owned by the Schuba brothers, Schubas (3159 North Southport Ave.) hosts cutting-edge talent in an intimate setting. Since its doors opened in 1989, it’s helped introduce some of today’s biggest talents to the world, like the Dave Matthews Band. (Their other venue is the famous Lincoln Hall).

In the city’s emerging South Loop neighborhood, blues venue Buddy Guy’s Legends (700 South Wabash Avenue) was founded by none other than ultimate blues legend himself Buddy Guy in 1989 (the name does give it away). Every January he holds a 16-night residency and has welcomed famous guitarists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Lou Rawls, David Bowie and BB King over the years.

You’ve got all the information you need: you have no excuse to not learn to play the guitar in Chicago!

So get out your new guitar, metronome and capo and… ready, set… guitar! You’ll be playing lead guitar or solos like Stevie Ray in no time.

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