Maple Leaf Music Lessons

Creative Music Instruction in North Seattle

Jared Borkowski


I've been playing guitar and composing music for more than 25 years, and teaching professionally for more than 15 years under the business name North Seattle Guitar Lessons. Please visit my website for more details about my teaching practice.

I grew up in the Seattle Music Scene learning from local teachers and starting my own band at ten years old. My passion for teaching stems from my own experience and evolution through lessons and hard work, carrying me from a cigar box guitar that I made when I was eight years old to performing at places like the historic Paramount Theatre and recording in studios with producers whose work I grew up on. After so many years of learning from teachers who I love and respect, and after years of practicing, writing, dreaming, and breathing music, I'm grateful that I get to pass what I've learned on to others.

As a teenager my main focus was on songwriting and leading my then rock band. In 2003 that band won The Experience Music Project’s (renamed MoPop) annual battle of the bands competition called Sound Off! When the band split up I turned to classical and jazz guitar and went to college to major in music.

Studying under the guidance of Cuong VuMichael Partington, and Steven Novacek, I was the first guitarist to earn a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Washington School of Music, where I also majored in Classical Guitar Performance and studied composition. While at the UW I co-founded the Improvised Music Project (IMP), a student run organization dedicated to showcasing the beauty of improvised music to those who may not find it accessible upon first listen, and generating a community around it. Years later the IMP is still going strong and puts on the Improvised Music Project Festival (IMPfest) each year, which has featured some impressive headliners in the past such as Bill Frisell and Tim Berne.

After college I helped to co-found the weekly, and long-time-running, free improvisation jam session called the Racer Sessions (written about in the New York Times). I also was a co-founding member (and briefly president) of the Seattle based new music record label called Table & Chairs.

I have performed professionally in a wide variety of settings and genres including classical guitar, straight ahead jazz, gypsy jazz, free jazz, bossa nova, solo guitar, classical chamber music, experimental improvisation, EDM, electro-pop, singer-songwriter, fingerpicking, funk, musical theater, avant-garde, rock, hip-hop, and more.

A couple of the many projects and groups that I’ve been a part of over the years includes a hilariously wig ridden Queen tribute band called Her Majesty, and a project named Operation ID, which The Stranger called “one of Seattle’s most interesting prog groups . . . in which virtuosity serves a greater purpose than showing off one’s academic training.” I’ve also performed numerous times with the Seattle Rock Orchestra, playing alongside inspiring artists such as Stewart Copeland and Allen Stone

I also run a side business composing and producing custom music for media content and TV, as well as mix engineering and producing for other artists. Composing and recording original material has always been one of my greatest passions. You can hear samples of my composing work here (featuring a lot of guitar playing!).

Some of the work that I'm proud of includes writing and recording guitar parts for Macklemore (on this song), working with Ben smith (of the band Heart) composing music for television sound tracks, and getting my music placed on the ridiculous (but somehow very popular) reality show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

Currently I'm focused on taking the guitar material that I've been teaching for years and compiling it into a series of lesson articles and online instructional video courses. You can get the free lesson articles by signing up for my mailing list, and you can learn more about the video lessons on my courses page

Teaching is a special calling for me because I love practicing, learning, and creating so much that it naturally extends to helping others do the same. I’ve spent thousands of hours developing effective ways to go about practicing and acquiring skills on and off the guitar. I get very excited and enthusiastic about working on musicianship goals and passing on what I find to be important philosophical approaches for anyone aspiring to be an artist.

I also love to sing, play piano, dance, write, draw, tell jokes, read, and ride the unicycle.

To contact me, and for more information on my teaching practice, please go to