Sasha Avanov – Guitar Teacher

Jazz Compostion/Arranging, Temple University
Jazz, Rock, Fingerpicking

20180429_Sasha Avanov_Headshots_Margo Reed Photo24I am a performer, educator, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. I am originally from Sacramento, CA and I decided to stay in Philadelphia after completing a degree in Jazz Composition/Arranging at Temple University in 2018. My primary instrument is guitar and I play some piano and drum set as well. I have experience playing jazz, rock, folk and other related styles, and I love writing music that combines elements of many genres.

I encourage all of my students to learn about music theory and reading music because it helped me a lot in my development, but I want to work on anything that inspires and motivates my students. We all have unique relationships with music and I want to help you foster a joyful one.


When did you begin playing Guitar, and why?
I began playing guitar in 2007 when I was 11 years old. My best friend plays the drums and one day he asked me if I wanted to start a band. He lent me an electric guitar he had lying around and I quickly fell in love with playing and writing music on it, and I haven’t stopped since.

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I play piano and drum set as well. My mother, who used to be a piano teacher, gave me piano lessons for a little bit when I was young and I started learning again in college. I started playing drum set in 2018 and hope to play it as a primary instrument along with guitar eventually.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
My personal goals as a musician are to express ideas and feelings that I cannot describe with words alone and that others can relate to. I hope to share the wonderful feeling I get when listening to beautiful music through my own writing and playing.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
I remember when I started learning music theory and the concept of scale modes finally clicked in my head. It was a very exciting feeling and it opened up a whole new world of compositional ideas. That moment made me appreciate the value in learning new and challenging musical ideas.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
My last private instructor in college gave me two of my favorite pieces of advice. He stressed that time is one of the most important elements in music. Music needs to feel good to both the player and listener, and good time is central to this. You can play all of the “right” notes but the music will never feel as good as it can if it’s not played with good time.

At the end of college I started to have a negative relationship with music and my instructor told me that it’s okay to step back from it for a bit, which seemed unthinkable at the time. I took a break from playing for a little while after school to reflect on my musical life and identify other activities that help “recharge my batteries”, and since then music has been a much more fun and positive experience. Everyone has to find his or her own ways to have a positive relationship with music.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
My most challenging moment learning guitar was learning different scales all over the fretboard. There are many different ways to play one thing on the guitar and that can be very overwhelming. Learning scales took a lot of time and patience.

What is your biggest musical achievement?
My biggest musical achievement is meeting and playing with many wonderful musicians in Philadelphia and having moments in performances where everyone feels connected and the music takes precedence over everything else.

Favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching is when a concept clicks for a student and he or she feels excited to play and learn more. I feel like I have done my job when I help a student grow and feel happy playing music.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
My advice to anyone learning music is to nurture a balance between having pure fun and challenging yourself. As I’ve said several times already, music is meant to be a joyful experience (even if you’re expressing something sad!) and it is a great way to grow as a person and connect with other people. It is important to have fun, but growing musically also requires a commitment to working hard and constantly challenging yourself.

Personal music projects:
I play in a group called Tree Stampede, which fuses elements of jazz, rock, and folk music. You can hear Tree Stampede and other music of mine at