School of Music > Community Music > About Us > Faculty Profiles > Michel Chatara-Morse

Faculty Profile: Michel Chatara-Morse

Dividing his time at the Community Music Division between on and offsite programs (Immaculate Conception, Oscar Meyer Magnet School), Michel Chatara-Morse is in great demand as both a teacher and performer. In addition to his teaching, Michel has given three interviews on National Public Radio, recorded a CD at WFMT, performed on “Classics with Carl Scroggins” and appeared live on WGN’s “Around the Town” segment. Michel is currently serving as a Board Member of the Chicago Classical Guitar Society and the Associate Festival Director of the 2009 Rantucci International Guitar Festival and Competition.

Q. Why did you choose guitar and what do you love about playing?

I chose guitar because I loved classic rock and roll like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and others. However, I was lucky enough to have wonderful classical teachers who steered my musical interests toward the classical guitar. I love the guitar because it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful and intimate of all instruments.

Q. What were your musical experiences growing up?

I was a Suzuki Violin student at age six. I started traditional piano lessons at age eight. Finally, I started traditional guitar lessons at age 13. In high school I played in rock and roll bands, while keeping up on my classical training.

Q. How do you spend your free time?

In my free time I practice my guitar. Do you hear this, students? Practice every day as much as possible! I also enjoy working out, playing tennis, attending concerts, football, basketball, Da Bears, Da Bulls, reading, movies, and many others.

Q. How does playing influence your teaching?

As an active classical guitarist in the Midwest I have a unique take on teaching. I have been lucky enough to study with some of the best guitarists in the world. These teachers have steered me down a path of discipline, preparation, patience, and efficiency. By learning technique from the best, I am able to see what is important for students from a developmental standpoint. Also, being an active performer myself, I know what it takes to achieve a consistent good result.

Q. How do you approach teaching?

I approach teaching on a technical, musical, efficient, fun, and personal level. Technique and fun are the most important aspect of early teaching for young students, for example. The establishment of muscle memory is a very big aspect of excellent playing. Once a good basis of technique is established, note reading and theory are added into the lessons. I believe that every student I have has the possibility to be an excellent guitarist. Therefore, I owe it to them to give them the BEST possible tools to achieve that goal.

Q. What is the most rewarding part about your work with the CMD?

For me, having a positive impact on students’ lives is very rewarding. I believe with all my heart that the discipline, the confidence, the achievement, and the challenge that students get when studying the guitar will transfer in a positive way to many other areas of life.