Elijah Cole – Guitar Teacher

Guitar, Piano, Ukulele
Jazz Guitar Performance, Temple University
Jazz, Contemporary

Profile PhotoI started playing the piano at age 5, and added the guitar at age 12. By 15, I was performing professionally on both instruments. By the time I finished high school, I was not only performing regularly around the DC area, I was also teaching around 10 students per week on piano, guitar, ukulele, and electric bass.

I moved to Philadelphia to study jazz guitar performance at Temple University, where I was fortunate to be selected for the top jazz small group and big band. My teachers at Temple included jazz legends Peter Bernstein, Mike Moreno, Terell Stafford, Dick Oatts, and Rodney Green, and I performed with guest artists such as Fred Hersch and Randy Brecker through Temple Ensembles. I graduated in 3 years, cum laude.

I perform often in the Philadelphia area, and travel regularly to DC to perform there as well. My goal as a teacher is to develop in my students the same love for music that I have felt since first taking up piano at age 5. My mission as a performer is to create music that stimulates the mind, soul, and spirit of its listeners.

When did you begin playing guitar/piano, and why?
I started playing piano when my parents signed me up for lessons at age 5. At 12, I decided to learn a little bit of guitar, so that I could read the chord shapes off of guitar players hands at jam sessions and play them on piano. Little did I know, I would end up falling in love with the instrument, and it became my main instrument quickly.

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I play some ukulele and a little electric bass (mostly by borrowing from my guitar knowledge), and a little drum set.

What are your personal goals as a musician?
My goal is make music that stimulates the mind, soul, and spirit of its listeners. I hope to accomplish this by developing control at the highest level of my sound and my instrument, in addition to cultivating a great understanding of many musical traditions and aesthetics.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
Try to understand music before you criticize it. In 10th grade, I started studying with a new teacher, and would express my unfounded opinions to him often, whether to criticize a music legend or an oft-played tune. He would always stress to me, “there’s no such thing as a bad tune,” or, “don’t be so quick to write them off.” As I started to take his advice, I was able to appreciate so much more music; it was as if a veil had been lifted. This was easily the most important musical advice I ever got from a teacher.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
Every day is a new challenge, yesterday’s goals become today’s standards. As my high school teacher often said, “music is a big room; every day you take a step forward but every day the room gets bigger.” A most challenging moment doesn’t come to mind, because music has a way of always presenting new challenges as you conquer old ones.

What is your biggest musical achievement?
My ability to perform regularly on two instruments is my greatest achievement. When I decided to make guitar my main instrument, I didn’t entirely give up on piano. I continued to practice it, albeit less regularly than I had previously. Being a “double-threat” has afforded me a number of great opportunities, such as performing on both instruments in Amsterdam with the Temple University Senior Group or at Preservation Hall in New Orleans with the Capital Focus Jazz Band.

Favorite thing about teaching?
I love inspiring people to love music in a new way! When you understand how music works and start to play it yourself, you gain a new appreciation for it. Seeing this develop in my students is my favorite part of teaching.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
It’s all about the time you put into it. My role as a teacher is to guide how you spend this time, but ultimately, if you don’t put in the work yourself, you won’t see the results.

Personal music projects:
-Leader of a jazz quintet and trio, featuring my original compositions and arrangements.

-Guitarist for Chelsea Reed and the Fairweather Five.

-Sideman to many Philadelphia and DC musicians.