Tim Lelen – Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher

Specializing in Guitar and Piano
Pop, Rock and Blues Guitar
Classical and Contemporary Piano

guitarphotoI teach piano, guitar, and ukulele. I have been playing for the last 18 years and grew up in a musical household. I’ve played lead guitar in a few bands along the way all while maintaining a steady interest in classical piano. I’ve been teaching for the last 4 years, sharing the joy of music with students in Philadelphia. I teach classical piano as well as pop and rock styles on piano and guitar and ukulele. I enjoy finding and teaching music that students are excited about, fostering creativity, developing excellent practice methods, helping students pursue their musical goals, and exploring all that music is and can be.

When did you begin playing guitar and piano, and why?:
I began private piano lessons in middle school and guitar in high school. I remember riding around in the car with my parents as a kid and hearing music playing on the radio and wanting to play like those musicians. Then one year I got a semester of lessons as a Christmas present. My father has also been playing guitar since he was a teenager which was in influence. Seeing my first live shows with musicians on stage was also a big motivator.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
My goals include developing the ability to pick out a tune I hear and turn it right into something I can play and enjoy, playing lots of classical piano (Chopin!), exploring more styles on piano and guitar, and cultivating technique and practice quality. I’d also like to play shows and write more as well as play with a variety of musicians from different backgrounds.

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 first learned to play power chords on guitar how much possibility for playing great loud punk rock that opened up! And realizing that a chord spans the whole keyboard note just three local notes was eye opening at the time.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
    1) Play a scale like a little song. What is possible? What can a simple ascending or descending scale express?
    2) Practice makes perfect, but perfect practice makes even perfecter, more or less. Practice shouldn’t be plodding repetition but an engaged methodical approach to learning and the more refined that process becomes the more interesting learning is and the more you can learn.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
Learning to first play something slowly well and not smashing through it fast repeatedly was a lesson that was hard won but finally sank in after a lot of frustration and getting up and walking away from the instrument. And I saw that playing over something poorly like that would ingrain the bad habit or mistake anyway and that playing something deliberately and well initially goes very far.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
Probably playing live on Radio 104.5. I was nervous but it was fun and a great experience.  Also it’s always good now and then when I hear from a fellow musician that you have some good chops in something like a solo or improv. It’s a little thing but satisfying.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
In students, it’s when a concept or technique goes from magic to mastered. It clicks and what had been struggling chaos is smooth, fun, and enjoyable to hear. In myself, I like how much teaching good playing habits reinforces and improves my own practice, creativity, and general musicianship. I also like hearing when a student has played in front of people and did well and enjoyed it. Last, I know what a great effect my first music teacher had on my life and countless others, and the aspiration to have that effect other people in a similar way is a very meaningful motivator in my life.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
Find music that excites you. Also silence is a note too.

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc:
    Most recent band: Ballroom Spies  –  https://ballroomspies.bandcamp.com/