Brian Johnson barely made it into the music program at The University of Minnesota, Duluth. Lacking any background in music theory and unable to sight-read, he essentially failed the entrance audition. But, the head of the guitar department and who would become his mentor, Billy Barnard vouched for him.
“Billy was the best teacher I could ask for. He taught me as much about the music business and life in general as he did about guitar and jazz.”
Stubborn and determined, Brian dug his heels in and rarely left the practice room. During the next four years at UMD, Brian worked his way up to making Jazz Band 1, Jazz Combo 1 and leading Guitar Ensemble 1.
He was fortunate to receive multiple performance-based scholarships including The Eric Johnson Scholarship. Eric was a former student at UMD whom Brian was particularly inspired by.
Brian has had the opportunity to study with a wide variety of talented and accomplished musical instructors including percussionists Dr. David Schmalenberger and Nick Zielinski, guitarist Jimi Cooper and composers Dr. Justin Rubin and Dr. Tom Wegren (a founding member of the band Chicago).
Some highlights from Brian’s time at UMD included performing with composer and trombonist Robin Eubanks and The American Contemporary Classical Music Group, Zeitgeist.Brian also had the opportunity to participate in Master Classes by Billy Taylor, John Scofield, Bobby Shew, Dave King, Kenny Warner and Joey DeFranseco.
During his senior year, Brian completed a European tour with the UMD Jazz Band, which included performances at The North Sea and Montreux Jazz Festivals. After college, Brian took a break from music to pursue other passions including nutrition and teaching.
Since moving to Austin in 2011, Brian found his passion for music stirring again. Recently, Brian has worked with local jazz singer Chelsea Pribble and served as bandleader and songwriter for country artist Heather Victorino. As a professional musician, Brian has played hundreds of shows, accompanied dozens of musicians, toured the country, composed, recorded and produced original music. His original compositions have been featured on local and international blogs and radio stations.
Brian has a genuine passion for teaching and guitar instruction. His approach to guitar lessons is to make the student’s unique goals his priority. He doesn’t approach lessons with a personal agenda or a philosophy of “right way” versus “wrong way”. “I think the best way to keep someone playing their instrument is to maintain excitement by achieving continual progress in whatever direction they are motivated to go.”
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