“Julie’s enthusiasm and devotion to music has made the challenge of learning to do something entirely new and different an enjoyable experience. She has a keen understanding about the need for balance between the technical and emotional side of playing. That sense of balance is also in play in the variety of different styles and genres of music to which she exposes her students. We play everything- rock, alternative, classical, blues, standards, folk and on and on.
“The most significant thing to me though, is the effort Julie puts into the process, to make it a special experience for her students. For example, my son also takes lessons with Julie & he has had several instances where he has played at school for variety or talent shows. Julie has always made an effort, on her own time, to show up and hear him play. Julie’s efforts are also evidenced by the sheer number of songs she works out (again on her own time) to provide her students the opportunity to play the music they love. Julie is a special person, with a real gift. Her devotion to the craft & to the idea that the learning and playing of music is something to be shared, permeates the entire experience. I am very fortunate to be her student.”
— GEORGE KONTOS
“I have been Julie’s student for almost six years now. I am so grateful to be Julie’s student for this long. Guitar has really opened up my life in a way I could have never imagined. I play almost everyday, and it has become so routine that I cannot imagine my life without it. It has definitely changed my life for the better. I hope to make big strides in the future and one day be as great a guitar player as she is.”
— ALEX KONTOS
“I don’t remember how we first connected, but my son Solomon M. Childs wanted a guitar for his Bar Mitzvah. He offered to pay for the lessons with his Bar Mitzvah money. We declined his generous offer and said we would gladly pay, as long as he practiced and didn’t give me a hard time about going to lessons. He agreed. It worked out fine. He still plays today at the age of 39 and so does his brother Wesley Elliott Childs (who also composed the most beautiful song I ever heard). Julie was, and I am sure still is, a great teacher. Sol is in a band, and he also plays for his children. Wes also still plays for his wife and new puppy. I would recommend Julie to anyone. ”
— MYRA CHILDS
“Here’s what is special about Julie–She teaches to my child, listens to what he likes (and doesn’t) and builds lessons around him. All the bases are covered with no boring material for him to plow through. She introduces new material with explanations he appreciates, and his music knowledge has exploded and expanded. He practices! She is also a great help if he needs any with school band material. Thank you Julie!”
— CAROL JAMES, Mother of “Allegheny” Ellis James
“Julie is the best music teacher I have ever had. She inspires her students with music they want to play and introduces new music for students who want to learn more. Julie was my guitar teacher, but she also plays a lot of instruments very well. If there is a particular song a student wants to learn, she will listen to the song and write it out for the next lesson. Julie gives all of her students a lifelong appreciation of music.”
— NEAL GOLIGHTLY
“I’ve been taking lessons from Julie for a very long time. I might hold the record as Julie’s oldest pupil and for the longest continuously running course of lessons. You might think I’d be pretty good by now, but you’d be wrong. I was self-taught on acoustic guitar, which I picked up some years ago, played with friends, had a lesson here and there, and had no illusions. I enjoyed playing country blues, some rock, the music of James Taylor, the Beatles, Paul Simon…
“Some years ago I wanted to learn how to play electric guitar. I got directed to Julie, and the rest is history. The lessons have been going on for years. I’ve learned a lot, and, mercifully, Julie can adapt her teaching to non-standard students like me. She has infinite patience; I can testify to that from experience. I’ve had fun playing. Julie is able to work out tunes instantly to give me sufficient clues to play credible versions. Sometimes, we sound like a band.
“It’s been fun for me. My real life is busy and has its share of stress. I look forward to the lessons, practice when I can and I play better now than when I started. I’ll be there next Tuesday!”
— DJ, Pittsburgh, 2013
“I started taking guitar lessons with Julie when I was 12-years-old. We worked initially to develop my “musical literacy” in classical guitar, but Julie also introduced me to the wonderful worlds of rock and jazz. This was, for me, a bridge across the musical sea: previously I had felt reluctant to leave my little classical music island. It was Julie’s extraordinary passion and musical knowledge, and her downright coolness, that unified what had once felt like a fragmentary music world.
“Although I am away at school, this gift has not diminshed. In fact, it has emboldened me to consider exploring other instruments (such as piano and cello) and other styles of guitar music. What I learned with Julie will undoubtedly stay with me my entire life. Julie has been a phenomenal teacher of music, friendship and compassion.”
— SHANE FISCHBACH
“Ms. Harris is a great teacher. Friendly and knowledgeable, she knows how to engage with young people. She provides feedback in a positive way so that my son wants to keep coming back.”
— ANDREA CLARKSON
“Julie was my teacher for six years as a teenager. I was completely new to the instrument, and six years later was playing songs and improvising in ways I would have never thought possible. Julie was always encouraging and let me learn at my own pace, but always found ways to challenge me. She introduced me to new music and styles, while still catering to my specific preferences. Guitar is still very much a part of my life today almost 10 years later, and I still play from the music given to me during those lessons.”
“I wouldn’t say I was Julie’s most dedicated guitar student. I started taking lessons from her at age 10 and throughout the next three years spent a minimal amount of time practicing–which I have come to regret in my later years. What was so amazing about Julie, though, was that having me become the best guitarist in the world was not her main goal. Her goal was to keep her students interested in their instruments and continuing to have fun with them, since that is really what playing music is all about. And I did have fun at every lesson, playing stuff from the Beatles to Eric Clapton to Muddy Waters’ ‘Hoochie Coochie Man.’
“As learning how to play the guitar became more of an interest of mine in high school, I began to take it more seriously and even decided, as part of a gap year before college, to dedicate some time in Pittsburgh to getting more proficient at the instrument. Who I was going to take lessons from was a no-brainer. I went straight back to Julie with a revived enthusiasm for guitar and have been playing consistently ever since.
“Throughout my time with Julie she took into account my goals as a musician and helped me to meet them. At first these goals were low, but in continuing to make guitar fun for me these goals eventually became grander and playing guitar is now a large part of my life. Over the course of our time together Julie has become both a teacher and a friend, and I can’t recommend her enough to students of all ages and musical ability.”
— CHAS STEWART
“I cannot overestimate the impact that Julie Harris has had on our family’s life. Week after week for several years, we have trekked to Mirror Street for one of our offspring to receive music lessons. Julie taught our sons to read music, to play riffs, to understand the pentatonic scale and music theory, more generally, and to understand and appreciate music. Week in and week out, she sings along (beautifully) as they strum, and she finds songs they would enjoy and works out the musical notation for them. She has given them a gift they will always carry with them, and she has inspired them and us with a deep love for music. Do not walk to Mirror Street–run!”
— MARLENE BEHRMANN COHEN & DAVID PLAUT