Because I happen to have ended up with a career in music, and because music is the focus of this site, this biography is intentionally focused on music. I have a lot of other interests: philosophy, science, bicycling, politics, photography, and more, but I won't get into those here.
     I grew up in Ann Arbor, MI, where I attended a small Montessori elementary school. I excelled in academics and was regularly given the task of assisting and teaching the other students.
     I was lucky to have teachers and parents who did not punish me for questioning everything. I did not like the way many things were taught, and I worked to decipher how and why the teacher would do certain things. When helping my classmates, I would often explain why I thought the teacher was confusing and give my alternative approach. I had a very strong belief that if things were taught better, far more of my classmates would quickly understand the material. I vowed to myself that I would not do things as a teacher that I found frustrating as a student.
     Among many interests, I was drawn to anything creative. Music, drawing, writing, architecture... In retrospect, I wonder if I ended up a musician as a rebellion to the idea that everyone always said, “you’re so good at math, you’ll make a wonderful mathematician or scientist one day.” I found math boring and unchallenging. My family has no substantial musical background, and I wasn't thought of as an especially gifted musician or artist. Considering my attitude today, I think that I went into music not so rebelliously but rather because I didn't understand it. I'm very curious and most motivated to explore whatever I do not already understand.
     I had some keyboard lessons at a young age, but was not a disciplined student. My favorite activity was making up my own pieces. By middle school, I was taking classical guitar lessons and singing in the choir, and I felt I was pretty good at both, though I practiced irregularly. I liked studying music and especially composing. Though I wasn't the most diligent in regular practice, I worked hard during rehearsals and lessons. In 8th grade, I sang in a quartet accepted for the state Honor’s Choir.
     Just before high school I discovered MIDI technology and dove in head first.  My every-other-week guitar lessons slowly morphed into a session in which almost all the time was used up by my playing tapes of my compositions with only a short time left over for feedback or guitar playing. In spring of 1997, my teacher hooked me up with a local recording engineer and I set out selecting compositions for my first album, Musical Shoelaces. I took a small box of CDs to school and tried to sell copies to friends and teachers.
     By another year and a half later, I had a second CD, False Ground. It had longer, more mature compositions. I really liked it and again tried to interest friends, family, and teachers. Though a handful of people told me it was among their favorite albums ever, most people gave me courteous encouragement and did not really give it a chance. At the time, I was frustrated because I didn’t understand what separated my music from the most popular and acclaimed recordings. I thought that a lot of my compositions were as enjoyable and musical as any. I resented the fact that people tended to prefer vocal music and lyrics.
     Later, I realized that most people listen to music that has associations for them and in a cultural context. They buy music after hearing a concert they liked or seeing a movie. They listen to music they associate with a culture and a style or that has an accessible message. My music didn’t even fit into any pre-existing electronic music genre, because I had no sense of genres and styles when I wrote it. In high school, I couldn’t have accurately defined the differences between rock and R&B, or between punk, heavy metal, and “alternative.” I didn’t even realize that instruments had common roles in an ensemble, I just used sounds in whatever fashion sounded good to me. I didn't identify with any culture or subculture, nor did I deviate. I simply wrote whatever evolved out of each idea I started with, influenced by whatever I happened to be intrigued with at the time. Unfortunately, I had no way to perform the music or otherwise present it or share it publicly. The internet was not at a stage ready for that yet.
     In 1998, I got a Chapman Stick through Oz’s Music, the local musical instrument shop, where I had taken lessons. The Stick combines elements of guitar and keyboard technique and opened a new palette of possibilities. Later that year I also began working at the store. There I was exposed to a wide variety of music and culture through the customers, teachers, students, and community surrounding Oz’s. That was certainly a major factor in my development toward a music career.
     Another year and half later, I had finished my third album, this time with real instruments and vocals, and I learned a lot in the process. For one, I found that my playing and singing ability was far behind my composing. My timing was inconsistent, and I had to work hard to achieve half-way decent performances of what I was writing. Though I practiced and improved my chops, I also learned to do digital editing to fix the performances. Conspiracies and Racketeering was released in summer of 2000 following my freshman year at EMU.
     I originally declared an elementary education major in college. I love teaching, and there is a lack of male elementary teachers in this country. But I was frustrated with the way the program was run. The classes were taught poorly, with insultingly low expectations of the students, and I felt my time was being wasted. I looked into the music program, and, somewhat to my surprise, I passed the audition on classical guitar. Though I still wanted to pursue general education, I felt much more challenged and inspired by the music program. Unfortunately, EMU did not allow guitarists to pursue music education (some biased old rule...), so my final degree was a Bachelor of Music Performance.
      Through my studies at EMU, I got full-blown exposure to the classical music culture. I dedicated myself to the program, practicing often, and improved greatly as a player. Through it all, I still questioned everything, from the way material was presented to the validity of the classical claims about music. While the best professors inspired me, I spent many classes dwelling on how things could be taught more accurately and effectively.
     At EMU, I met a piano student with fantastic talent and dynamic charisma. Drew De Four and I jammed and talked of getting a band together, but he was still busy playing with his band from high school. He did, however, ask me to join a barbershop quartet with two other EMU music students. I liked what little barbershop I’d heard, so despite my busy schedule, I gave it a try.
     Barbershop harmony has a blend and an approach that was different from any of the popular, experimental, classical, funk, techno, or other music styles to which I had been exposed. The way the parts worked and fit together challenged much of the music theory I was learning. I went back to relate what I was learning to my guitar and to my MIDI compositions and found that it was impossible. The tuning barbershop requires is more complex—yet in some ways more natural—than the simplified and compromised system used by guitar, Stick, and keyboard.
     I was particularly frustrated that all the guitar books, the professors, and my whole college education had misrepresented the nature of musical pitch. I began to obsessively study every resource I could get, reading book after book on physics, acoustics, and tuning theory. I lost some trust in the classical approach to theory and became determined that whatever I teach to others not have the misrepresentations and inaccuracies that I had been taught.
     I got particularly interested in world music and ethnomusicology. Besides enjoying many world styles, I felt that if barbershop showed exceptions to classical theory, then I would have to incorporate an understanding of all styles of music in order to know what was truly universal. I was grateful for the challenges and insights from my barbershop experience and so I wanted to seek out other new perspectives. By the time I graduated EMU in 2004, I had spent tremendous hours on music study, but my creative output had dwindled to mostly just pieces written for class assignments and composition lessons.
     In 2003, Drew’s band had broken up and he asked me to join him in starting a new band. The long story of that project is under the section here about The Closers. After two years, the band broke up and I returned to teaching and studying. I now teach full time, mostly guitar. In addition to future creative pursuits, I am looking into pursuing graduate studies and am especially interested in music cognition and other psychological and empirical approaches. I often think that maybe I should have focused on science all along, but, being so far into a music career, I think the best bet is to figure out how to incorporate science and music and my creative interests... There's so much in life to do, I certainly can't relate to anyone who complains of boredom. I am surely not alone in wishing I could have multiple lifetimes, but I'll try to keep making the most of the one I've got.