chicago , il
Jerry is a no BS kind of guitarist. He has developed a full range of linear and harmonic knowledge on the fingerboard, using both plectrum and finger style techniques, jazz standards and classical repertoire. His work as a teacher/performer has involved the analysis and transcriptions of a multitude of jazz players on all instruments. He has been able to get to the root influences and creative impulses in their melodies. This is not a surface or superficial knowledge, but one that digs deep into what makes the artists tick. To study with Jerry is to capture the essence of what motivates them musically.Jerry comes to this, and his desire to share, from the bottom of his heart, and his students, who always stay in touch with him, know and respect this, and are inspired by it.
Jerry accepts the challenge of musical performance development as lifelong, which indeed it is! He applies himself to teaching and playing with eagerness, diligence, a willing attitude and hard work. With his background and experience Jerry offers much as a instructor. With abundant respect and admiration I recommend him most highly.
Studying with Jerry has been one of the most horizon-broadening experiences in music for me! Not only was he ready to accommodate and assist in learning and practicing a personal repertoire from an additional institution’s classical and jazz curriculum, but he was also prepared to explicate on material relative to our private studies and my musical interests respectively as well. Organized, professional, and passionate; learning with Mr. Cusack felt intuitive, engaging and challenging which made it easy to stay motivated and eager for every lesson!
Jerry Cusack has been my guitar teacher and mentor since I began studying with him in 2006 at the age of 14. I came to him with a strong interest in playing the electric guitar, and through his guidance and exposure to various styles, including jazz, rock, and finger-style, that I eventually found a passion for the classical guitar. Jerry’s lessons encompassed everything from Iron Maiden covers, sweep picking, and jazz theory, to Bach Lute Suites and modern atonal music. In particular, he helped me prepare a program of Fernando Sor, Bach, and Lauro for audition to university as I transitioned on to my next level of musical training. I eventually went on to study classical guitar at the university level, where, with Jerry’s continued mentorship, I was named the Outstanding Sophomore of the College and was awarded highest honors on graduation. His ability to nurture and cultivate his students’ love for music has given me and countless others a lifelong gift. Jerry once told me that one of his pillars of good teaching lies in vocalizing the right feedback at the right time. When I would play for him on the eve of my biggest performances, he always knew what I needed to hear to bring out the best in my playing. As I still go to him for musical and technical advice, I have never stopped learning from Jerry about life as a guitarist.
Jerry is an amazingly knowledgeable teacher, not just in music but in how it applies to life as well. He is a patient and kind instructor and is flexible with changing schedules even teaching over long distances. We have taken lessons for 10 years now and hope to keep in touch for many more.
To Prospective Students and Parents: Our son Brandon began his guitar journey in 2004 with the Steve Moore in the Los Angeles area. In 2006, we moved to a suburb of Denver for many good reasons but with some misgivings about disrupting our son’s musical training. We were unsure that Denver could come close to the musical vibrancy of the LA area. Fortunately Steve Moore was able to direct us to a well-known jazz guitarist, Dale Bruning, who introduced us to his student, Jerry Cusack, and all our lives changed. Our son was at the time (just entering high school) enamored with the virtuosos of heavy metal rock and roll, like Alexi Laiho and John Petrucci. Jerry knew exactly who these artists were and used our son’s enthusiasm for them and their music as a starting point for his teaching. My wife, Julie, a pianist and former director of piano at the Colburn School and I watched with delight and great admiration as Jerry deftly brought greater depth and breadth to Brandon’s education while allowing his core interest to thrive. Gradually, Brandon began to learn theory, and when he learned that John Petrucci had classically trained at the Berklee School of Music, decided with Jerry’s gentle encouragement to explore the classical repertoire. The rest they say is history. As the years passed, our son shifted his focus to the classical guitar. By senior year Brandon had progressed so remarkably, that Jerry began training him to audition for the classical guitar performance program at the University of Colorado, headed by one of the world’s finest guitarists and pedagogues, Jonathan Leathwood. He was accepted into the program and graduated with highest honors. To this day, Jerry remains our son’s teacher, mentor and beloved friend. I can never thank Jerry enough for all that he has done for Brandon and for our family; nor will I ever have to second guess my suggestion to move the family to Colorado. Had we not, we would never have met Jerry Cusack and his extraordinary wife Anne, a great artist (sculptor) in her own right and we would have been very much the poorer for it. Now, 5 years after our son’s graduation, Julie and I have moved back to California, Brandon is in Los Angeles and Jerry and Anne have relocated to Chicago. Distance however, cannot shake the deep bonds of love and friendship we share with Jerry and Anne.
Jerry is so much more than a guitar teacher; he’s one of the most good-hearted people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Starting lessons at the age of 8 and working with him once a week all the way up to my senior year of high school, I’ve come to know Jerry very well. From a teaching perspective, he’s been more than I could ever want. He’s knowledgeable in every guitar discipline and is more than willing to satisfy curiosity in all subjects. Whether that’s music composition, complex jazz theory, or figuring out the chords to a catchy song on the radio, he is the best person to solve the task. His breadth of knowledge and performance experience is apparent in his teaching and his ability is baffling. He has a knack for patience and a genuine interest in all types of music. Over my years working with Jerry, he’s helped me learn complicated classic techniques such as tremolo, we’ve transcribed numerous jazz solos and he’s aided me in coming up with the proper voicings and melodies for my original songs. His demeanor is warm and friendly which makes every session with him a chance to learn and to relax. Aside from teaching, Jerry is an upstanding guy. He has unlimited generosity and is always eager to share new music, thoughts, books, or advice. I feel completely comfortable talking to him on all topics, not just music. Few people have made as good of an impression on me than Jerry has.
I can’t say enough about Jerry, he is an amazing teacher and always goes above and beyond because he genuinely cares. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the guitar and music. He knows how to teach according to his students individual needs and he is always kind, patient and understanding. He’s not only a teacher but a friend and a musical mentor. He loves what he does and his love of the guitar and music rubs off on his students.
Jerry Cusack is not only a wonderful teacher but a lifelong friend. The thing that separates him from most teachers in my eyes would be his willingness to explore the students interests without any specific agenda. He caters to all needs a student has, and has the knowledge and technical facility to do so. For me, I found a love for Jazz half way through high school and Jerry recognized the interest I had, and gave me the materials needed for me to thrive in learning the Jazz Language. Now thanks to Jerry and his help in preparing for college auditions, I found that I was well prepared to conquer a collegiate level music program with ease. Jerry has a lot of knowledge in multiple music genres ranging from classical, Jazz, Rock, and Pop. This versatility seemed to be very rare in private teachers, even in my past experience when taking private music lessons. I cannot recommend someone more than Jerry, his authenticity and love for music is so valuable and infectious. Thank you for keeping the tradition thriving.
Mr. Jerry is one of the most influential teachers that I have ever had the pleasure of learning from. As a kid just beginning to play the guitar, the amount of time and work that goes into learning how to play a song can be daunting. After studying guitar for a few years under another instructor, I had genuinely lost interest in the guitar and was ready to quit playing. I had reached the point where even playing a few notes felt like a burden and I began to dread having to play at all. I cannot express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to study with Jerry. In just a few lessons, he was able to restore the wonder and fascination that I felt upon choosing to learn the guitar. Jerry taught me that playing the guitar is more than just holding the instrument in a specific way or repeating different exercises. Whether I was set on learning a new blues riff, a classical piece, or an entire musical, Jerry was willing to help me complete the task. During the eight years that I studied with Jerry, he helped me learn how to love and appreciate music and the guitar. If you are interested in learning the guitar, Jerry is without a doubt one of the best teachers you will find today. I cannot thank him enough for his support as a musician, mentor, and friend.
Jerry has been instrumental in reigniting my passion for playing the guitar. I have had several teachers over the last 20 years, but can say with all honestly that Jerry’s methods for engaging and tailoring a course to help me develop more structure based on my tastes are thoughtful and very effective. My playing has improved 10 fold over the last 6 months, and I have quickly learned technique and theory that I thought were well beyond my grasp. Furthermore, Jerry’s talent and overall knowledge support delivering a curriculum of continued growth while allowing for constant re-calibration and shifting of styles. This proves to be a huge benefit in keeping every session fresh and interesting. Highly recommended.
I started lessons with Jerry with previous knowledge of theory and reading from years of piano instruction. From day one Jerry took what I knew and ran with it. He’s shown me how to view the instrument as a musician and also as guitarist. It’s evident that Jerry has a wealth of knowledge and happily passes on the tradition of music to his students.I really feel like he’s equipping me with the tools to be a professional sounding jazz guitarist. Jerry is a passionate and understanding teacher, and goes above and beyond to make sure new concepts are understood. I would recommend Jerry to anyone looking to learn jazz guitar and jazz standards!