From the very beginning of time, Julie Harris knew what she wanted to be. From the age of four when she ran around the house pretending to play a toy guitar to when she would sneak her parents’ Trini Lopez albums up to her room and play them on her Show ‘n’ Tell. To when she got all teared up listening to the tone poem ‘Prelude de l’apres midi d’un faune’ by Claude Debussy in her 4th grade music classroom. To when she would try to jam along with guitar pickers like Chet Atkins, Glen Campbell or Roy Clark on TV. These were the early defining moments. Her mind was made up. There was no doubt. She was gonna be a musician!
From the minute Julie Harris got a real guitar there was no getting it out of her hands. She took group guitar lessons at the age of 8 with a bunch of adults. Her parents pleaded with her to ‘please go outside and play,’ but the guitar was Julie’s priority. She started playing the bassoon in 6th grade at the suggestion of Mary Faines, her elementary school music teacher. She won early admission as a 6th-grade middle schooler to the Centers For The Musically Talented High School Program where she met her bassoon teacher and mentor, Marc Pancerev–bassoonist for the Pittsburgh Symphony. She studied with him until 12th grade and played bassoon in the All-City Orchestra, All-City Band, Ozanam Strings, Carnegie-Mellon University Honors Band, P.M.E.A. Bands and was the bassoonist for the High School Woodwind Quintet sponsored by the River City Brass Band. There were many more ensembles too numerous to mention. Julie attended the Governor’s School For The Performing Arts at Bucknell University as the only bassoonist chosen in Pennsylvania and was the featured soloist at her graduation from Peabody High School. She was also playing gigs on the guitar throughout her high school years and had already played hundreds of gigs by the time she graduated from high school.
Julie attended West Virginia University on a full talent scholarship for music. She transferred to Carnegie-Mellon University as a junior where she was a student of Arthur Kubey, principal bassoonist of the Pittsburgh Symphony. She graduated with a degree in Music Performance and then attended Duquesne University where she graduated with her teaching degree in Music Education. She is certified to teach instrumental & general music.
Julie has performed for many different groups in various genres, from clarinet and bassoon duets to Israeli music. She lived in Florida and founded The Guise, one of the very first all-women’s New Wave bands. They recorded demos of original music and were based in Tallahassee, Florida. Back in Pittsburgh, she was the guitar player and founding member of the Jane St. band, an all-women’s Top 40 group. She played Greek music, (guitar and bass lines), for the Grecian Flames for many years and blues/rock originals with her project called The Band Of Two. Julie was a finalist in the Pittsburgh Guitar Wars Competition. She has two solo recordings, the self-titled Julie Harris and Continental Riffs. Both recordings are Julie’s original work & feature her on vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and sax.
Julie’s recent gig work is diverse. It includes playing classical guitar for the McKeever Environmental Center annual Art Show in Sandy Lake, PA, Andy’s at the Fairmont Hotel featuring music of the Grateful Dead and ‘A Night Of Jewish Music’ in Kresge Theater at Carnegie-Mellon University. And, of course, many private house parties, art openings, dinner engagements and joyful singalongs with folks in nursing homes! Julie has entertained audiences of all sizes, from 20 people to a few thousand people. She has played jobs in large concert halls and small clubs. Her intention is to always provide an enjoyable music experience for her audience.
Julie loves teaching music as well as performing. She has taught for over 30 years. She was the general music teacher at River Valley School from 2001-2005 until it closed its doors. She also enjoyed starting the Instrumental Music Program at St. Bede Elementary from 2001-2004. She currently teaches group guitar to middle school at Kentucky Avenue School, (2008-present) and founded the Instrumental Music Program at Community Day School, (1999-present). She also teaches private music lessons on guitar, bass, various woodwinds and music theory. Her private music instruction career is very important to her. Julie will customize a lesson plan for each individual student in order to help them achieve their goals. She hopes to encourage a lifelong love and enjoyment of music for each student and to maximize the inherent musical potential that resides within each person.
Julie happily lives in Pittsburgh, PA and plans to continue to perform and teach for many more years to come!