Cole Berggren – Guitar Teacher

Guitar and Bass
Ohlone College
Berklee College of Music
Pop, Rock

Cole Berggren HeadshotI am a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and teacher originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished my associate degree in guitar performance at Ohlone College in California and moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music. At the beginning of 2017 I moved to Philadelphia to play with a band called The Vernes. I have years of experience playing and performing music in a wide variety of styles from pop, rock, and punk to big band, jazz, and swing. 

As a teacher I feel that each student wants something different from a music lesson. I try to focus on what a student is interested in most while pushing them to try new things. I’ve been teaching for a few years now and I’m always excited to meet and work with new people. Whether you’re an experienced player or a brand new musician I’d love to help you accomplish your musical goals.

When did you begin playing Guitar, and why?
I started playing the guitar when I was about 12 years old. My dad had an old Stratocaster and he taught me the opening riff to Smoke on the Water. We cranked up the amp super loud and something about it stuck with me. I remember I used to call him and ask when he would be home from work to tune the guitar. 

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
In addition to the guitar I also play the drums, piano, and bass guitar and I also sing. When I first moved to Philadelphia I was playing a bit of trumpet too and I’m pretty sure I can still make a sound on a trumpet that’s somewhat musical. While I’m comfortable teaching drums, piano, and bass I’ve been playing guitar for the longest and I consider myself a guitarist first. 

What are your personal goals as a musician?
As a musician and an artist I hope to never settle. I always want keep pushing myself to learn and appreciate new kinds of music and art. I also love seeing new places and meeting new people through music and I hope to continue doing that for as long as I can. 

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
I’ll never forget my first day in a class I took in College called Pop/Rock Combo. On the first day of class each semester the professor would pick a song- usually a 60’s/Motown song- something like Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally. He’d play it once over the classroom speakers, and pass out a sheet with the chord changes and lyrics on it. Then he’d put a band together with volunteers from the class and they’d play the song- after hearing it through just once. I’ll never forget how badly I wanted to be able to do that. 

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
Learn by ear! A professor of mine in college was a huge advocate of learning music by ear. I think being able to learn music just by listening to it opens up so many possibilities. 

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
The most challenging moment I’ve had learning an instrument was relearning my left hand posture early in college. As a kid I played guitar with this crazy 90 degree angle in my left hand. By the time I got to my second year playing in school I’d started to cause some real damage to my wrist. It took me a long time to reverse that technique and heal my wrist.  

What is your biggest musical achievement?
My biggest musical achievement is moving to Philadelphia and establishing myself in an incredibly inspiring and supportive community of working musicians and artists.

Favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching is learning from my students. I like being challenged by my students just as much as I like to challenge them. I love it when students want to learn something that’s new for me. I also love answering challenging or thoughtful questions students have. It makes me question what I really think. 

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
I always tell my students to find a piece of music that they really like. Start by learning what you love! As a teacher I strive to push students to try new things- to listen to things they’ve never heard and learn to appreciate and play new things. But I really think it’s best to start with what you love and build from there. That’s what will make you want to play every day. 

Personal music projects:
I play in a Philly band called The Vernes. I also play in a band called The Number One Lovers and do some freelance work as a recording engineer.