Sones De Mexico Ensemble

Sones De Mexico Ensemble

5.0 (1)
3 employees
29 years in business

About this pro

My music classes stand out because I use a curriculum and rubrics. This an instructional program designed to give students a broad and balanced training in all aspects of guitar playing. The objective is not just to learn to play your favorite song or a small bag of tricks. The objective is to give you the tools to teach yourself anything you want to learn. 

I enjoy working with all kinds of students. I believe that music is a birthright and a part of healthy human development. Anyone who is interested in music should be able to have the power to make it, and whatever level they are able to do it. I believe it is important to set objectives: some people wish to become professional and make a living from music, others want to entertain themslves and be the life of the party, others want to relax and bring more harmony into their being. I enjoy helping different students reach their objectives. 

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Chicago, IL 60613
Email verified

1 Review


  • Marcia Gilson

    Juan Dies and the other teachers for Sones De Mexico Ensemble are skilled professional musicians who are also very qualified, competent music teachers. They are kind, inspirational, knowledgeable teachers who make learning achievable and fun. I have learned how to play guitar from Juan and I highly recommend Sones music teachers.

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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

I developed a curriculum that includes te following components:

(a) becoming familar with the instrument, how to hold it, how to tune it, how to maintain it, etc.

(b) music theory basics (rules that apply to music in all styles and situations),

(c) left hand skills (except for lefties, this is where you learn to play chords and scales),

(d) right hand skills (this is where you learn to strum and pick),

(e) history and culture (essential stories about the roots and significance of the music we play) and

(f) repertoire (this is what we are here for: to learn to play songs, the more the merrier)

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I have a bachelors degree with a double major in Music and Anthropology from Earlham College. I also have a Masters degree in Ethnomusicology from Indiana University. I have been a professional musician and guitar teacher since 1989 and played in bands specializing in Jazz, Blues, Rock, Folk, Reggae, Children's Music and Mexican Folk Music. I worked as a director of outreach programs at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago for 13 years. I have been a full-time musician and Executive Director of Sones de Mexico Ensemble for 24 years. I have recorded six albums with them and been a guest in other commercial recordings. I also have two Grammy Nominations and several other awards. 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

30 min lesson $25

60 min lesson $50

weekly group lessons = $175 (12 weeks/60 min each)

How did you get started teaching?

Teaching guitar was my first job out of college. I worked hard to get a degree in Anthrolopogy, which I considerd my main career. I also got a second major in music, just because I loved it. Interestingly, while I loved and have applied many things I learned in Anthropology, it was music that ended up putting food on my table. As a musician, I have explored many styles of music and many techniques of guitar playing from around the world. I am versed in several styles and traditions, but currently, I make a living from playing several styles of Mexican folk music on a large collection of folk guitars and basses.

What types of students have you worked with?

I have worked with children and adults in English and Spanish. I have worked with very talented, self-motivated students who are looking to figure out a few things to take them to the next level. I have also worked with children with ADHD, emotional problems, unconventional learning styles, and other developmental challenges who find that music helps them channel their talents. 

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

In 2014 my band Sones de Mexico Ensemble celebrated its 20th Annivesary with a free concert at the Pritzker Pavilion in Milennium Park, Chicago.We spent months planning the show, featuring a reunion of present and past members of the band, and guest musicians and dancers who had collaborated with us during our 20 year history. Altogether, we had about 70 artists on stage. The weather was perfect. The word got around through radio, TV and social media, and 10,000 showed up to see the show. It was one of the best concerts I've performed in my life! 

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Find joy in playing guitar. It has to be fun, otherwise you should find something else to do. 

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

What is your dream? What makes you want to play guitar? What would you like be able to play on the guitar that would make your dreams come true?  

Lessons offered