Instructor profile

Emil Harris



What do you love about music?

I love that music is a pursuit that never ends. I love getting my students hooked on the same enthusiasm I have for the internal journey of becoming a better musician. It's about getting engaged with the whole process and not just individual goals—because you are never "done" with music. There's always more to learn and more ways to grow, and being comfortable with that realization is really a metaphor for life. That's the big picture! But along the way, you get to play music you enjoy and express yourself, and achieve the sense of accomplishment that results as you slowly evolve and improve.

Who is your favorite artist?

It's a tie between Keith Jarrett and Frank Zappa.

What are your top 5 desert island albums?

Symphony No. 4 - Charles Ives
The Köln Concert - Keith Jarrett
Anything by Thelonious Monk
The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady - Charles Mingus
Rain Dogs - Tom Waits

Do you play in a band or currently perform?

Although I've played in many bands in the past, I currently find doing solo instrumental gigs to be the most enjoyable.


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Emil was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee.  He began piano lessons at age 8, only to be bitten by the rock guitar bug in high school. He entered the University of Tennessee’s jazz program as a guitarist, but switched to piano midway through. There he studied with Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and former Art Blakey sideman, Donald Brown. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Music, Emil played professionally in the Knoxville area while also becoming a music teacher at a non-profit organization called The Joy of Music School. It was there he discovered his passion for teaching. In 2009 Emil moved to Columbia City, Indiana and continued to teach privately while performing with various bands.  He enjoys hiking, biking, and spending time with his son Devin and wife Stacy.