About Me

I'm a professional musician with 30 years experience in performing, songwriting and teaching. I've been teaching guitar and bass lessons at a music store that services the East Valley (Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert and Mesa) for over 16 years now. Over the years, I've had hundreds of students, from age 5 through 75, walk through my door - some of them have went on to have successful musical careers (Jimmy Eat World), others have recorded their own solo albums, joined bands or played their favorite songs for family & friends.

I grew up in Chicago and moved to Arizona in the late 80s. I've played in bands since my teenage years, hit the musical stage back in 1991 and signed my first recording contract at the end of 1999. Since then I've appeared on over 50 albums, played hundreds of shows while touring all over the United States & Europe (with bands like AFI, Peter Murphy, Concrete Blonde, The Mission UK, New Model Army, etc), published around 50 original songs and even have had some of my own music played on MTV. I also studied Music Theory & Composition and received my Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University in 2000.

 

Some of my favorite bands/musicians: David Bowie, The Cure, U2, Joy Division, The Smiths, Frank Sinatra, Depeche Mode, Jane's Addiction, The Doors, James, Lou Reed, Love & Rockets, Bauhaus, Nick Cave, R.E.M., Gram Parsons - to name a few. My appreciation & knowledge in music spans all genres. 
 

 

Testimonials
  • "One of the best things that’s ever happened to me was to meet Bret and begin taking lessons from him. We started with guitar 15 years ago, then I transitioned to bass guitar along the way. Clearly, to stick with something for that long, it’s safe to conclude that it’s a positive experience. Bret is everything you’d want in a teacher: incredibly knowledgeable, a great communicator, kind and understanding. That knowledge extends from how to play the instruments to a deep understanding of music and its history. Moreover, he knows how to teach (something that, as a college professor, I think I can judge). He tailors his teaching method to each individual student and what he or she wants out of the experience, from music theory to simply learning to play your favorite songs, and everything between. He’s very understanding with beginners and has a great sense of just when you’re ready for something more challenging. The hands-on experience and immediate feedback are invaluable and can occur only through the kind of private, face-to-face dynamic that Bret offers. With his guidance, I’ve grown not only as a musician, but also in my appreciation for music and its various styles. Lastly, he’s very accommodating with scheduling, willing to make adjustments that work for you" - Joe Russomanno

  • "I’ve taken guitar lessons from Bret for almost 4 years. During that time, my skill level has increased markedly!! Bret is organized, thorough, and both knowledgeable as well as personable. He has a solid background in music theory, so even the most technically challenging pieces are achievable with him. In addition to being a great teacher, Bret is also an awesome guitar player, and performs live in various venues. His performance is not only a testament to his abilities, but also an inspiration. If you are serious about learning to play, I highly recommend Bret!!" - Scott Tanabe

  • "I moved back to the U.S. about 8 years ago and my guitar teacher in Germany recommended Bret Helm to me because he is from AZ originally. I was really looking for someone to take me to that next level of guitar playing. As a beginner acoustic rhythm guitar player I felt like I was really hitting a wall and not capable of really playing songs much less accompanying others. Bret got me to that next level where I could not only play the songs and accompany others but also play and sing the songs myself. Bret is one of the best guitar teachers in the valley and definitely money well spent." - Mark Hudson

  • "Bret taught me acoustic and electric guitar for nearly 4 years and is still teaching me to this day. Best 4 years of my life and I hope for many more years. Thank you for being such an amazing teacher!" - Vivian T.

  • "I took lessons with Bret from the moment I got my first guitar at age 10, until I left for college. He taught me everything I know from my first chord to my first original song. Bret gives his students the opportunity to learn what they want to learn. Each week he had something new for me to take home, whether it was a new song, a new technique, or even just a new band or artist to check out. Bret's musical knowledge and ability widens over multiple genres. He introduced me to a lot of the music I listen to today and I am extremely thankful he expanded my music taste so much, as well as my guitar playing. As I started writing my own songs, Bret even offered to give me a couple vocal lessons to give me the confidence I needed to be able to perform them for others. I am now in a band, and we recently went on our first tour this summer and continue to play shows all over Arizona. If it wasn't for Bret and my excitement to see him every week for 8 years, I wouldn't have half the love and knowledge of music and playing skills I have today. Everything I know about guitar is because of Bret." - Ryan Orr

  • "I started guitar lessons with Bret a month or two ago and I am so amazed with how much I've learned in such a short amount of time. Bret was very accommodating for my constantly changing schedule and he was able to tailor the lesson to exactly what I wanted to learn. He also taught at the perfect speed for me, never lingering on one technique, scale or song for too long. He had a lot of different things for me to work on and let me pick songs to learn that I liked. I had a lot of fun at my lessons and always had plenty of exciting things to work on before the next lesson. Bret was easy to get along with and his enthusiasm for guitar and music was inspiring." - Meredith A.

  • "I am in my late 50’s and started taking lessons from Bret a few years ago when I relocated to Arizona. As a kid, I took guitar lessons but didn’t keep up with it. As an adult, I returned to lessons several times but would stop within a couple of months because I couldn’t find a teacher who could meet my needs or keep me motivated. I learned that just because someone can play well doesn’t mean they can teach. Bret has far exceeded my expectations on so many levels. Bret’s knowledge of guitar, theory and ability to teach has transformed my relationship with my guitar. We have explored all the different genres from country, rock, blues, classical and many more helping me to learn and strengthen all different techniques from finger picking, rhythm and lead guitar. I’ve learned how to practice in a way that is fun, engaging and efficient. Bret has taught me how to write my own music and record at home with the program Garage Band. Bret even taught me to overcome one of my biggest fears… singing. If you’re a beginner or an advanced player, Bret is an amazing teacher that will meet your needs and exceed your expectations. He is professional, knowledgeable, organized and an excellent teacher." - Sharon S.

  • "This guy is the real deal. He is an absolute professional, and his passion for people and music is astounding. He teaches any level of player, and will tailor his lessons to meet you where you're at, encourage you and show you how to rock with the best of them. I seriously cannot recommend him enough." - Tyler Speed

  • "Bret is a great teacher and really cares about helping you improve on many different levels. I would highly recommend him!" - Tracey Straight

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