About Tom Brill
Tom Brill is a guitar instructor in all styles at Brill Music Academy. Tom also teaches other stringed, fretted instruments including banjo, ukulele, and bass guitar. Growing up outside Milwaukee in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Tom always had an interest in music and took piano lessons as a youngster, but Tom’s true passion for music was ignited when as one of 75 million other viewers, he witnessed the remarkable appearance of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 8, 1964 and for Tom, life would never be the same!
Tom, from that moment on, was headed to be a rockstar! He started playing in garage bands first as a drummer, and then when he heard the guitar players always playing the parts wrong he decided he would take it upon himself to learn the guitar parts right and then teach the guitar players the correct part. He soon realized that if he learned the parts right, he might as well play them himself! Thusly began a career as a lead guitarist.
Tom’s goal was always to be the best player around and although bands would come and go, he was always an influential member of whatever group he was in as he could both play lead and sing lead taking after some of his early heroes George Harrison and Eric Clapton.
In the early 70’s Tom performed in a Progressive Rock band named Sweetdreams and in that band almost reached the national level. Sweetdreams opened for Styx in 1973 in a sold out appearance at the University of Wisconsin. Their performance included explosive flashpots, mirror balls and some way out avant garde creative performances unlike many audiences had ever seen, indeed, even the members of Styx were somewhat astonished. The band performed original material penned by Tom and his guitar partner as well as songs by Yes, King Crimson, Wishbone Ash, Led Zeppelin, and Jethro Tull, as well as other Progressive powerhouse bands.
Although Sweetdreams broke up due to the illnesses of a couple members, Tom persevered and continued playing in bar bands, wedding bands and performing solo classical guitar in restaurants around his new home town of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. In 1994 Tom was asked to join the most successful band in that area, The Memories, a three member “show band”. While performing with “The Mems” Tom performed at venues as diverse as The Wisconsin State Fair, The Northern Wisconsin State Fair, The Ohio State Fair, the Sheldon County Fair in Iowa, (the largest county fair in the country) and The Jones County Pork Producers Association banquet in Iowa.
Tom knew that The Memories whose playlist consisted of older standards didn’t perform the genre of music he most liked, so he said he’d give them a year. Turns out he stayed for six. After The Mems, Tom went back to playing more of a Rock style and at the same time developed a solo act featuring the music of the 1960’s where he first cut his teeth as a musician. Tom’s solo act features authentic renditions of hits of that era and is performed over backing tracks created in Tom’s home studio where he performs all the instruments and sings all the backing vocals.
Throughout his years as a performer, Tom realized he also possessed a penchant for teaching as that was his first intent in taking up the guitar many years before. Because of his varied performance background Tom has learned how to communicate various styles and approaches of guitar performance to his students. He is still a believer in “playing the parts right” and as a teacher his goal is to instill that same desire to be the best around. His teaching style has centered on teaching the things that “real” guitar players do thusly preparing and coaching students for the real world of being the best musicians they can be.