Alan Singley | Instructor Bio

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  • What is your teaching philosophy?
    I get the students rocking out as quick as possible. I strive to instill a passion for music in my students. The skills I teach are practical tools that make playing in a band easier. I know that if I am having fun, then the kids are too. I have a lot of fun.

    How long have you been teaching music? At Youth Music Project?
    I’ve taught since 2006. I’ve taught at Youth Music Project since January 2014. When I saw the Jack Black movie “School of Rock,” that’s the second I knew I wanted to teach.

    Describe a challenging musical skill on your instrument that you had to work very hard to achieve.
    Pinch harmonics and jazz barre chords. I am still working on being a better sight reader.

    What is your favorite thing about teaching music?
    Since we rock out as soon as possible, I enjoy rocking out! I like to jam with anybody, especially kids. Not much is more adorable than watching those tiny fingers rocking. With older students, I love to sweep off the cobwebs of self-doubt. After teaching for a decade, it’s easy for me to just relax and enjoy the music we make. It’s nice to be in the present moment of the sound.

  • What do you expect of your students in classes/lessons?
    I expect my students to bring their materials, practice each day, and pay me respect as I will respect them. I expect my students to respect the learning environment. I expect them to seek out music to listen to and keep a list of their favorite bands and songs. I expect them to care. I expect them to thank whoever is responsible for their opportunity to have music lessons.

    What do you expect of your students’ parents?

    I like to make a one-on-one connection with a parent or guardian every single lesson. I love as much parent/guardian involvement as possible. The number one thing any parent or guardian could do for me is check in with me briefly each lesson. This is usually the case. In rare instances, sometimes a very hands-off approach is needed. It’s also extremely helpful for parents and guardians to take advantage of priority enrollment for the following term.
    When did you first start playing music?
    I began playing music when I was seven, back in 1989. My mom bought me a Casio SA-20 and a “Teach Yourself Michael Jackson” book, and so I started teaching myself MJ songs. This was utilizing the EZ-Play big-note style of notation and stickers for the keys. I loved the sound effects, and would send myself into a hypnotic trance. I remember this vividly from 1989. I thought I was a genius, and that made me feel good. Music had such a huge impact on my childhood, and I share that experience every single day. I’m lucky. 

    Do you play in any bands or perform in the Portland area?
    I am currently composing music for a web series. I am also writing songs to form a new band. I stay busy with a variety of music projects. My love has always been orchestral composing, though. Feel free to stream my entire catalog of albums at
    What is the first song you learned how to play, and how old were you?
    On guitar, the first song I learned that I enjoyed was “When The Saints Go Marching In.” I was in fifth grade. I struggled with the technique my teacher presented me with and quit. My cousin got an electric guitar, and I was straight-up jealous. Luckily, that jealous energy transformed into me having a new flame. I picked up my guitar and magically stumbled on a technique that made it so I could just… play. It was wild. We were not rich, but one day, my mom just put me in the car, drove me to a music store and bought me a cheap electric and an amp. I then taught myself by ear listening to Green Day. My best friend showed me how to read guitar tabs, and then with that and a handful of “Guitar World” magazines, I taught myself. Of course, I picked up tidbits and riffs anywhere I could find them. Looking back, I know I was a rare case, but I know from experience what it means to be an utterly passionate budding young musician. I was convinced I had a gift. I heard whole orchestras in my head as young as 10. Now keeping that flame burning for a lifetime… there is the challenge! 

    How do you handle mistakes while practicing or during a performance?
    I assume nobody notices when I mess up live. As for mistakes while practicing, I take it slow and build up speed. I take small sections and play them many times. It’s called “vamping.” Then I play the entire piece.

    Who are your musical influences?
    As a kid, it was all Michael Jackson. In middle school, it was Green Day. In high school, it was Belle and Sebastian. As a young adult, it was Burt Bacharach. And as a 30-something, it’s been all about Parliament Funkadelic, y’all ! I also love Brazilian music.

    What do you feel when you play music?
    Hypnotized. That’s the point of music to me, to become hypnotized.

    If you had the chance to study and/or perform with any musician, living or deceased, who would it be?
    I would like to watch George Clinton in the studio back in 1976, or I would like to study synthesizers with Devo. I would love to hang out at Nintendo of Japan and hang out with Koji Kondo in the music production department.

    When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
    At age six, watching Bon Jovi on MTV back when they used to play music videos on MTV. It was magical, like a movie. Definitely my most vivid memory. I remember the feeling. Then I just enrolled in any music club I could get into in school. I joined Bell chorus in third grade, choir in 4th through 7th grade. Band in 8th grade. Then I just went on my own path. I started my first band in 7th grade.

    If you weren’t a musician/teacher what might you be?
    I would be a video game tester for Nintendo. Or, most likely, I would be a family counselor, or something to do with counseling. That would be very difficult but rewarding. It was really difficult choosing a path in life (besides just making it big with the music thing, which I am still on that path). But when I realized I should become a rock’n’roll teacher, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately enrolled in music classes at PCC and I will spare you the details, but there is no question that this path music education has taken me down is a path created by a higher power. For real. They say that the path to happiness is service, so as long as I am helping someone and also nurturing my soul, it’s all good. It’s not all about the music on the page.