Department Head, Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Mandolin, Music Technology Department Head




University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, BM, Jazz Studies

Joel Greenberg

Since 2002 Joel Greenberg has been instructing students at the Cincinnati Music Academy and building the Guitar Department up to be one of the most well known in the area.  In 2015 he became a co-owner of the school. Other teaching appointments include Adjunct Professor of Music at the College of Mount Saint Joseph and as a clinician on technique, professional skills, and ensemble playing.

Joel came from a musical family and some of his earliest memories are of watching his father playing folk-guitar classics in the family room. After a brief stint with the trumpet in middle-school Joel picked up the guitar at age 12 and had formed a band and played his first gig within a year. He quickly progressed through various stages of rock music as a teenager while branching out into jazz, fusion, fingerstyle, blues, classical and was especially drawn to improvisation in music.

His interests led him to study jazz guitar at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music (CCM) where he earned his degree in Jazz Studies on scholarships from the University of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation, the Hilb Scholarship Program and others. By the time Joel graduated from CCM he was working several nights a week playing as a bandleader, soloist and sideman in various venues throughout the tri-state. Known for his ability to achieve a great tone and crossover from various styles, Joel has toured nationally and become one of the more in-demand guitarists and mutli-instrumentalists in the area. He performs frequently in regional theaters and will often appear playing various instruments at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theater, Human Race Theatre, and others. His recording studio experiences led him to study recording arts and his busy schedule often includes audio engineering work in his personal studio, The Rhythm Section Studio, and as a live sound engineer for various large and small venues.

While in school Joel began to instruct guitar at CMA and was soon managing the growing department. His students have been accepted to the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music (CCM), Berklee College of Music, Belmont University, University of Lousiville, Northern Kentucky University, Bowling Green University, Five Towns College and others. His students have gone onto play professional engagements in working bands, orchestra pits and as professional music instructors. Joel also works with guitar-playing songwriters, composers, and vocalists who appreciate his knowledge of music theory, composition, performance and vocal arts.

Joel is recognized for quickly identifying the critical techniques necessary for a student to achieve their goals. He realizes that the guitar is one of the broadest instruments stylistically and not every student wishes to learn the same repertoire, the same techniques and scales. His students often learn what to practice and then more importantly, how to practice more effectively. The ultimate goal being that the student, regardless of natural ability or proficiency level, be able to play the music they enjoy and acquire the techniques they need in order to advance. For students who wish to learn from written methods Joel is familiar with methods by William Leavitt, Mel Bay and Carcassi.

Joel works closely with students who wish to play professionally or semi-professionally, tailoring their skills to their needs in the field. For students considering college music programs Joel keeps a line of communication open between the student, the student’s family and the schools they are considering in order to ensure that the student is prepared to audition for and attend the school that will best serve their needs. Advanced students without professional aspirations can enjoy learning the same skills as the pros without the pressure of earning a living!

Through personal experiences in recording studios as a musician he became interested in the recording arts. Joel has done course work at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and Cincinnati State Technical College on the subjects of recording, sound design, audio editing and mixing, and live sound reinforcement. He works actively in the field in his private studio The Rhythm Section and as the lead sound technician for a tri-state mega-church. He has produced music and audio for film and radio.

Joel specializes in recording techniques as well as audio mixing. His studio at CMA is equipped with a Pro Tools rig for hands-on experience in software music production. Students have the opportunity to learn the proper use of microphones as well as digital and analog recording equipment.

Beginning to intermediate and casual students appreciate Joel’s patience and ability to deconstruct complex processes into simple tasks more suited to their learning style.

Joel lives in Mariemont with his wife April, an archaeologist who has worked in Rome, Italy and the American Southeast, and their son Kai, an aspiring artist.

What Joel’s Students have to say…

“Every parent wants the best for their children. When our son decided to follow his passion for music as a lifetime career, we had to kick into gear and find the right person to prepare him for the challenging and extremely competitive college auditions that lay ahead…

A friend recommended CMA. We researched the website and were impressed with the bio and experience that Joel Greenberg offered.

It didn’t take long to realize we had made the right decision to enroll our son with Joel. His patience and professional approach, to narrowing down the areas our son needed to improve upon, prepared him for college auditions. We were thrilled when our son was accepted into the commercial guitar/music program, at a premier university, and his first choice. When our son called Joel to give him the exciting news his response was, “You did the work.” We know, however, that it was more than that. It was the direction our son received and discipline taught through Joel Greenberg that prepared him for this first step.

Our son continues to work with Joel, during college breaks, and regards him as a mentor and friend.” –Cheryl B.

“Joel Greenberg is one of the most influential people in my life, whether he realizes it or not. By taking lessons from him, he gave me the basis for an entire career in music, which I am currently pursuing.

Joel teaches every lesson with enthusiasm, which in turn made me even more excited. Joel has prepared me to play in any style and genre of music imaginable. Joel made me a versatile player by encouraging my strengths and working on my weaknesses in each lesson. Joel is a very well-rounded guitarist, which allows the student to choose many different musical paths.” – Nick P.

“I’ve been studying jazz guitar with Joel Greenberg for about a year and a half. Jazz guitar has been a personal goal of mine for many years. There have been many obstacles along the way, one of them being a focused, knowledgeable and resource-rich instructor…

Joel has helped me overcome this obstacle. The never ending study of jazz guitar can be rife with pitfalls and hurdles. Joel, having been a student himself, understands these issues and has offered personal experience, guidance and resources. His consistent, patient approach helps keep me focused on the fundamentals of jazz guitar that will help me meet my goals. In addition Joel is an experience player (not just a teacher) and brings that important perspective to the learning process. Learning the guitar for, many, can be a delicate balance. Too much information and the student simply overloads. Not enough “push” and the student can lose interest. I feel that Joel has an awareness of these issues and, again, it has helped keep me motivated. In about a year I have progressed from barely able to play in the jazz idiom to playing in an adult jazz combo. I’m still challenged in my studies – but I am in the process of achieving my goals.” – Max E.

“Joel Greenberg is an incredibly talented but relaxed professional. It is a rare and wonderful combination to come across. I am a totally unschooled guitar lover who played a few chords badly in high school …

(but loved to sing and needed the background instrument to accompany me). I had put the guitar away (with all my bad habits) 30 years ago. My wife gave me group lessons with Joel, which was a great way to begin. I quickly felt that this “old dog could learn a few new tricks” and progressed to individual lessons. Joel was a godsend. He was able to blend challenging me with simultaneously being sensitive to my frequent frustrations. It is humbling when one is older to return to the role of student and his approach was a good balance for me. He gets superior marks in my book and I look forward to learning more from him in the future” –Christopher R.

“Joel is an outstanding musician, teacher and mentor. We love that he taught our son how to read actual music (most guitar teachers only work with tabs), and we have been incredibly impressed with his knowledge of and experience in so many different genres of guitar…

– everything from metal to jazz, folk, and even classical. Joel does a fantastic job prepping students for auditions as well. Perhaps the best thing about him, though, is the fact that he constantly challenges our son to broaden his musical horizons in both genre and level of difficulty. The growth we have seen in our son’s musical abilities under Joel’s watch has been tremendous!”

“We came to Cincinnati Music Academy very naive and behind the eight ball. Our son was well into his senior year when he decided he wanted to pursue music at the college level…

He had a ton of exposure to music, but very little and very sporadic exposure to formal music training. Luke interviewed several schools and his gut led him to CMA. And we are so glad it did.

Joel Greenburg has met with Luke weekly to prepare him for college level auditions. Knowing Joel’s experience with this process has given Luke the assurance that he is on the right track. It has not been an easy transition for Luke, but Joel has been very patient. He has been honest, while still letting Luke know what he was doing right, and pushing him to give more. Now, Luke is on a perfect trajectory to be prepared for his auditions.

As parents, working with Joel has been ideal. His lesson notes are clear and well detailed. He has been more than available to both Luke and us outside of his lesson tome for any additional questions or concerns we may have. In addition, billing, rescheduling and communication have been well streamlined and flawless.

It has truly been a pleasure working with CMA and Joel.”

“I don’t know how to fully express the impact you had on Jack’s (musical) education. You were his favorite teacher of all time…

you were the type of tough instructor that pushed him to practice and learn new, more difficult material (Jack usually disliked “tough” instructors) but, somehow, he loved you! You were not just an instructor — you were his mentor, his friend, and his big brother all rolled-up into one! I would encourage any budding guitar player to take lessons from you at CMA; you’re one in a million!” -Robin R.

“Joel is a knowledgeable and thorough guitar teacher who took my son from a novice guitarist to a highly trained level. Many family and friends have commented that he has a nice touch and sound to his playing, especially for his age and years of experience….

Also, I noticed that my son has shown great interest in background information about musical artists and their instruments. Further, he has accompanied me in some voice recitals with very positive feedback from a knowledgeable music crowd. I would highly recommend Joel as a teacher and fellow musician for anyone considering lessons!” –Pam

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience with CMA through Joel. He provided me with a particular set of very applicable musical skills and knowledge that I could then utilize to learn larger styles and approaches…

which enabled my playing abilities to expand quickly. His teaching style makes the guitar very accessible even to children and young adults. I can earnestly say that I not only learned from Joel, but was also able to play with him. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience every week.” -Zak M.

“Joel Greenberg was my son’s guitar instructor for five years. As an instructor, he patiently guided and inspired my son to explore music and to become an excellent musician. My son never minded practicing because he didn’t want to disappoint his teacher and because he loved his lessons…

My son eventually chose to study music education in college. He aced his music auditions because he was so well prepared by Joel and was accepted into a premier college program. He also received significant scholarship money.

I can’t imagine a better music teacher and mentor for guitar. I know that Joel and my son will be in contact for many years. I highly recommend Joel Greenberg as a guitar instructor for students of all ages!” –Diane

“Joel Greenberg has been working with me for over a year, and though I am not what one might consider a “serious guitar student”, I very much appreciate Joel’s teaching methods. He can show me any style of guitar playing in which I am interested…

from Travis picking to blues to pop strumming…….and has even displayed some jazz and classical techniques here-and-there. Joel listens to what I am interested in learning, gives me good feedback on my fingering and string/play, and offers constructive criticism to help me improve. I look forward to my Monday lesson as one of the more fun parts of my week!” – Rob K.

“Joel Greenberg’s professional experience provides a groundwork which enables him to individualize lessons for each of his students. He nurtured our son’s talent…

and helped him achieve his musical goals. In addition, he provided tremendous wisdom, and was an excellent mentor for our son as he was considering his collegiate aspirations. Joel’s dedication to his students extends beyond their musical success, into their overall success in life.” Cindy D.

“Joel is a great teacher. His desire for perfection in rhythm and his focus on practical techniques helped me to become a proficient player…

His teaching methods allow me to progress on my own and work stuff out for myself. Joel embraces the idea of teaching the student how to learn on his own and progress which helps him/her to explore their own interests while becoming a better player.” – James S.

“I’ve been taking guitar lessons at CMA for just over three years. As my ability has grown, so has my appreciation for music and for those who play it well. Joel is a patient and skilled teacher…

who also happens to be a really gifted musician. I’ve had the privilege of seeing him play live. I left that show thinking to myself, ‘I really need to practice more.’ Joel makes me want to play guitar and keep getting better. That, to me, is why people take music lessons.”

“Joel was a great person to work with while furthering my guitar playing knowledge. He has a lot of good advice when it comes to songwriting and progressions.”

“I’d recommend Joel Greenberg as a great guitar teacher to anyone. Whether they are young or old, a beginner or a lifelong player, Joel really knows his stuff. In addition, he’s easy going, patient, and supportive with his students. All I can say is he’s an A+ teacher.” –Olivia

“I so enjoyed my time at CMA each week learning how to play the guitar with Joel. I truly treasured these lessons & gradually as the weeks went on I definitely felt more comfortable with my guitar. (Soon enough I noticed a difference in my playing.) I recommend anyone interested in playing the guitar & making music to take lessons with Joel. I had a lovely experience!” – Ally M.