Michael Backus | Instructor Bio

    Email Michael

  • What is your teaching philosophy?
    Anyone can play music if they are willing to practice and flexible enough to learn new things.

    How long have you been teaching music? At YMP?
    I have taught the guitar for 15 years in Portland public schools, colleges, guitar shops, and from my own studio. I have been with YMP for a year and it’s been a great experience!

    What is your favorite thing about teaching music?
    I enjoy connecting with students and helping them find their own voice on the instrument. Most of all, it’s a lot of fun to share something I’m passionate about.

    What do you expect of your students in classes/lessons?
    When students are organized and engaged my job is easier. It’s my responsibility to help create a positive and supportive environment for students to thrive and make learning possible.

  • About Michael
    Michael showed interest in music at a very young age, but his parents couldn’t afford instruments or lesson. After attending a music festival in San Francisco at 14 years old, he knew what he wanted to do with his life. The energy in the air lit a spark and he wanted to figure out how to make those sounds. Michael started playing music at the age of 15, it was healing, meditative, brought him a lot of enjoyment, and helped him grow as a person. Before college he studied with a wonderful teacher Duane Langston who inspired him to teach and pursue a music education. Through music, Michael learned a lot about himself. Eventually, he received a scholarship for guitar in college and music started taking him places. He then a Bachelor of Music in jazz guitar performance from Portland State University. In college, he studied with many music gurus including Dan Gidae, Dan Balmer, John Stowell, Brian Dickerson, and Darell Grant. 

    For many years, Michael was in a blues folk, and soul band called Ruby Pines. His favorite Ruby Pines gig was at the Blue Note in New York. He also played in Portland and beyond with a duo + gospel choir. Currently, Michael plays with songwriters and support other musical friends. Occasionally he will pick up guitar gigs playing in theaters with an orchestra or pit band. His favorite musicians change often. Right now, he likes Gregory Isakov, Frazey Ford, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, and John Hurt.

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