"As I sit listening to the radio, I am enjoying Barrios' La Catedral played by Berta Rojas. It started me thinking about my guitar teacher, Ellen Whitaker. I started guitar lessons with Ellen seven years ago. I started one year after my then 8 year old son, David, started taking lessons with Ellen. I had played three instruments prior to the guitar. My son had played none. I was recovering from a wrist injury that limited the use of my right hand. (I would later break my left wrist.). David was full of incredible flexibility, but had young, untrained hands. Ellen's skills as a guitar teacher enabled both of us to progress to a level I would not have believed possible. As I listen to the Barrios performance, I think, I will be able to play Barrios in the near future. With Ellen's help, I feel confident that I can tackle music that moves me. Ellen was able to teach a middle aged mom and an 8 year old boy. That takes incredible talent, patience, adaptability and joy. There is always joy when Ellen is teaching. From the very beginning, she had us playing real music. No drill, drill, as I remember without fondness from my piano days. Your skills, reach, technique and repertoire grow steadily. You never grow bored or feel frustratingly over challenged. Ellen brings the same enthusiasm to each and every lesson that I saw in her on my very first lesson. Guitar has become such a part of my everyday life, I can't imagine being without it. I am part of a group of Ellen's adult students that play in an ensemble together. We have so much fun playing together that the weeks we don't meet seem less full and somehow incomplete. Happily, there are always more mountains to climb, so we never stop learning. Ellen has made me fall in love all over again with making music. She has brought to life in my hands the incredibly diverse and beautiful guitar. I would highly recommend Ellen Whitaker to anyone who wants to learn to play guitar, learn music theory, learn how to listen and really hear the music you are producing and experience the joy of making music."
-- Karen R.
"Ellen is an exceptional teacher and accomplished musician. She listens to and guides each of her students based on their individual interests, and makes complex music theory much easier to understand. Ellen is patient, intelligent and thoughtful. Several of us were so inspired by her we formed a group. I can't imagine learning the guitar without her."
-- Judy R.
"Ms. Whitaker is an excellent teacher. I came to her not really sure if I wanted to do guitar, but after just a few lessons with her, I fell in love with it. She picks the perfect songs to fit my level and interest, and teaches in a relaxed yet professional atmosphere. I've learned so much from her in such a short amount of time, and I'm very grateful to have found such a supportive and inspirational teacher."
-- Alexis W.
"Ellen is a true teacher. She has a well thought out, organized approach to teaching that she has developed over many years of teaching. She customizes teaching materials and lessons for each student based on interests, skills, and goals. Her instruction in both guitar and music theory instruction is clear, thorough, and readily understood.
Ellen understands how skills develop and expertly focuses the student on the most important things at each stage of learning. Students feel comfortable they are building solid fundamentals and mastering the right material at the right level without being overwhelmed or discouraged. Ellen is fully engaged in every lesson and coaches students with positive constructive feedback and a sympathetic ear.
In addition to being her student for the past five years, I am friends with several of her adult students through an informal ensemble group and I have observed her younger students perform in recital so I know my experience and satisfaction is not unique. I give Ellen five stickers (out of a possible five)."
"I have been learning from Ellen Whitaker from the age of 9 to 18, and am extremely enthusiastic to testify on her behalf. Ellen Whitaker is not only a patient and kind teacher but is also incredibly perceptive and flexible. She challenges her students to do their best and is always willing to speed up or slow down according to feedback from her students. She wants to know what you are interested in learning and tailors her curriculum to each individual. For example, once Ellen found out that I enjoyed singing as well, she began integrating singing + classical guitar in my lessons, which I was really excited about. If you want to learn a specific song, she will drop everything to help you learn it.
She cares for her students as whole, full people and is ultimately not only a skilled guitarist and mentor but an overall great person to learn from and interact with. I could not imagine learning guitar from anyone else, nor could I imagine these past years without seeing Ellen every week!"
-- Vibha P.
"I have been Ellen's student for seven years. I'll be 74 in October and have progressed to difficult pieces that I watch professionals play on YouTube. I know that Ellen teaches very young children, and I'm the evidence that she also can teach retirees. Her technical skill in guitar, coupled with her exceptional understanding of music theory, and her sense of humor, contribute to my joy in learning from her. I look forward to the hour every week. With her encouragement, several of us adult students have formed a guitar group. I give Ellen the highest recommendation."
-- Alan F.
"Thanks to Ellen, I have gotten totally hooked on the classical guitar! She has a knack for figuring out the music which you love. She has a deep knowledge of classical guitar technique and music theory, which differs from guitar teachers who say they can teach classical, but play primarily folk/rock. She is also just a kind and inspiring person to spend time with."
-- Harriet W.