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Meet John Temmerman

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Temmerman.

John, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started on the clarinet in grade school and took up the alto sax in high school. I really enjoyed the sax, and jazz in particular, devoting most of my practice time to it once I started up. I played all the way through high school, considered majoring in music but decided to attend the University of Illinois as a business major. I played all 4 years in various U of I jazz bands on the alto, soprano and baritone sax and in a few semi-pro rehearsal bands after I graduated in 1977. I stopped those bands once I started a night MBA in 1980 and focused on my business career.

About 10 years later, I came across my alto sax in the basement and decided to get it appraised to see what it was worth. It was a highly sought Selmer pro model and was worth about 5 times the purchase price. The decision was whether to sell or to play – and I made the second best decision of my life (the first was marrying my wife) and decided to play. I joined the jazz band at Oakton Community College, which rehearsed at night and played there for a couple of years. Next, I had an opportunity to buy a tenor sax, which I had always wanted to play, and I bought it and fixed it.I was so surprised to realize that after all the years of playing alto, tenor sax was my natural instrument.

I played tenor with the Oakton band, practiced with some regularity and then the director entered us in a jazz festival. There were a number of very heavy judges. I was selected as one of the top players, and the head judge, Mark Colby, a world class saxophonist, said all these nice things about me in the ratings sheets. So, knowing that he was at the DePaul U. music school in Lincoln Park, literally right out the door of the office building I was housed in as the Internal Auditor for Children’s Memorial Hospital, I begged him to take me on as a student. He said that I didn’t need to beg and he’d be happy to work with me.

I studied with him every 2 weeks or so for five years. I learned a tremendous amount about playing. He set high standards, but was very supportive. My teaching style is modeled after his and I use lots of the things he told me with my students. While at Children’s Memorial, I started gigging a little bit and networking. My first big break, was being selected to perform at the Custer Street Fair in Evanston, which I have been doing annually for over 20 years. Also, teaching always interested me – I was doing some classroom teaching in accounting and I managed to find some private music students.

I then took a different position as Controller for the ELCA religious organization and again was able to do music while performing my business tasks, as the Lutheran Center had a HOT Gospel Choir. I was a member during almost my entire term there. I also got to perform as part of the house band on the New Orleans Superdome Stage for the 2009 ELCA Youth Gathering. My teaching business started to develop as several local band directors noticed that a number of the players I was teaching were developing nicely. I issued 2 well-received quartet CDs, the Power of Two in 2001 and Live in Evanston: John’s Mixed Bag in 2008.

In 2010, I retired to care for my wife who is disabled due to mobility issues. This was not a surprise as she has had the condition for as long as I have known  her  but it is chronic and progressive. Her personal assistants were unable to give her the help she needed, so I stepped in. I’ve continued playing,teaching and practicing while helping her and it’s a blessing to be at home to help.

But my story is that people can pursue their dreams. I always wanted to be a professional musician. While helping my wife get around and having plenty of adventures, I get to play and teach the clarinets and the saxophones and help my students as well. I continue to refine my approach, but, particularly for the younger players, I consider myself like a kind uncle, maintaining a warm, supportive environment while providing honest feedback and effective suggestions to improve.

The other story is that music can be part of anyone’s life and there are no barriers to someone developing their voice.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Pursuing music while pursuing a business career was a challenge and a blessing. Of course, finding the time for music was a BIG challenge. But the business career permitted me to make music on my own terms by providing stable finances and an early retirement.

Caring for my wife is another time challenge. But family comes first and we are able to live the life we want.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Saxophone and Clarinet Player and Teacher – what should we know?
I have two mottos to live by:

For teaching: “I help my players play better and enjoy music more”

For playing: “My audiences go home happy”

Each of those is very empowering.

I own, play and teach all common sizes of saxophones: soprano, alto, tenor, baritone clarinet: Bb soprano, A, Eb, Bb Bass, Eb Alto and I work with my students on a wide variety of musical styles: classical, jazz, rock, pop.

Plenty of teachers can play instruments well. What I bring  is skills in achieving rapport, diagnosing and remedying playing problems, and communicating to students of all ages and skill levels.

What sets me apart is that I go the extra mile for my students, doing whatever is necessary to help them play better. I maintain a library of solo material, and encourage players to participate in solo and ensemble performance opportunities. I arrange for performances if their school does not. I attend student performances when I can and support them in any way I can.

For performing, professional quality play is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success. I plan performances to the crowd, rehearsing as necessary. All business and administrative issues are resolved to the client’s satisfaction. Many clients have remarked that all the necessary details worked out every bit as well as the performances.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think my desire to help the players to come to me, coupled with my instrument skill and experience allows me to help the players. I believe, deep down, that any player who comes to my studio is capable of playing better and I am the one who will make it happen.

When performing, I do whatever is necessary for the client and their audience to be thrilled.


  • Current teaching rates are $26 for a half hour lesson with a prorated price for longer lessons.
  • Performance prices are negotiable based the client’s needs

Contact Info:

  • Address: John Temmerman
    9030 Kolmar Ave.,
    Skokie, IL 60076
  • Website:
  • Phone: 847 322 6768
  • Email:

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Tom Kingery

    August 9, 2017 at 1:15 am

    ur awesome! ~~ Tom K.

  2. Richard Temmerman

    August 11, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I am proud of you John! Great Article!

  3. Bruce Gardner

    January 17, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    Great article John! I am going to have to go to your website and check out your schedule.

  4. John Temmerman

    January 18, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    thanks a lot.

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