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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Ellian

“Musicians Never Stop Learning”: A Conversation with Kale Jensen, Guitar Instructor

Welcome back to Encore’s (reinvigorated) blog. Happy March, everybody!

It’s been… a while since our last post, to say the least. I’m pumped for the future to fill everyone in on what we’ve been scheming up this past year; from masterclasses, recitals, camp planning, and everything in between. Our studio has been changing and growing as we continue to meet the artistic needs of the Twin Ports - most notable among this growth being a welcome addition to our teaching staff!

We’ve had our guitar instructor, Kale Jensen, with us as a member of the studio family since the fall of last year, and we feel pretty lucky - he’s a fantastic artist and an articulate educator who has called the Northland home for the past four years. Some of you may have met or worked with him already, but I want to show him off to all of our followers! I took the opportunity to ask Kale a few feature questions about his craft, his philosophies, his beginnings and more. Keep reading below to get to know him.

Tell us about the series of events that brought you to the Twin Ports.

I attended McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul, Minnesota, until it closed in 2017. While I was there, I met a like-minded musician who always talked about how nice the Twin Ports area was. I’m originally from Columbia, Missouri, and although it will always be home to me, things felt stagnant while I was there. I knew I wanted to continue my [music] education, so I took a chance and enrolled in classes at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. I’ve enjoyed living here for the past four years; there’s really no other place like it.

Describe your guitar playing style, and your recent background as a performer and an educator.

I would say I play a mix of acoustic, pop, blues, and jazz. Stylistically, I’ve always tried to only play the notes that matter, rather than overplay. I began teaching guitar shortly after moving here, and most of my performances have been academic-based. I’m looking forward to playing in other capacities and venues here in the near future.

What do you enjoy the most about living and working in Duluth and Superior?

I like how tight-knit and caring the Twin Ports community is. One perk of my position at Encore is that I get to meet students and parents who have a passion for music. Also, the North Shore is beautiful, so there’s not much more I could ask for.

What mark do you want to make in the Twin Ports artistic community? Any plans for that on the horizon after graduation, and/or in the next few years?

I know that I want to put my best foot forward in every situation and connect with as many people as possible; whatever mark that leaves will be one that I’m proud of. As far as artistic plans, I’m excited to start writing more music and further develop my voice as an artist. Though musicians never stop learning, we all have to venture out on our own and apply everything we’ve learned.

Name a piece of advice that a music mentor, or artist, gave to you that resonates with you today.

Joe Elliott, a guitar professor at McNally, told me: “You have to mean what you say when you play”. It rhymes, and it’s also good advice.

Any artist(s) you can’t stop listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to an artist by the name of Yebba for the past few months. She’s an amazing vocalist who does blues runs that blow me away.

How has teaching at Encore helped you to grow musically and professionally?

Every music teacher has moments where they have to examine what they’re doing on the instrument in order to explain it to students; this is always a growing experience for both parties. Encore has provided more than a few of those moments. I’ve also felt like more of a contributing community member since joining Encore.

Guitar studio inquiries can be directed by email to or by phone at (218) 481-8463

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Photo Credit: Laura Kirwin

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