...DevOps Engineer for Burwood Cloud Services, a divison of the Burwood Group.

Michael is fascinated by DevOps culture and systems reliability engineering, particularly as it relates to improving business efficiency.

He is also obsessed with automating as much as humanly possible, to focus on the high-level tasks and minimize task switching.

...woodwind doubler, with a focus on saxophone, specializing in Broadway musicals and classical music. However, he is comfortable in any genre and always ready to learn something new.

Michael also available for private lessons for saxophone (any level), clarinet (beginner/intermediate), flute (beginner), and piano (beginner).

Testimonial

"If you’re ever in need of a good woodwind doubler, Michael Gray is the guy. I’ve done numerous pit shows with him, big band stuff, and ballet, and he’s one of the few players I’ve run across who can do it all in the appropriate style, changing effortlessly among the different genres. Super nice, too, and easy to work with or give occasional suggestions to. He won’t take a comment about dynamics or intonation as a personal affront, but as an effort to improve the group’s sound. He’s a pro, in other words. One recent show I did with him involved him on SEVEN instruments, from picc to clarinets and on down to bari sax."

"Michael is the other side of the coin, and a joy to work with. He has that hard-to-define (and hard-to-teach) pit sensitivity, innately knowing when to bring the dynamics down to accommodate a singer or important line on stage (who we are accompanying, after all), without even being told to."

-Jason Ford, trumpet

Shows and Orchestra

Here's a current list of musicals I've performed, plus orchestral works I've performed. I am available to play musicals on all of the saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, piccolo, and possibly other woodwinds given enough notice. I love playing musicals!

Musicals:

  • The Wiz (Reed 3)
  • West Side Story (Reed 4)
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie (Reed 3)
  • Guys and Dolls (Reed 1)
  • Grease (Reeds 1 & 2)
  • In the Heights (Reed 1, Touring Production)

Orchestral Works:

  • Bolero - Ravel
  • Romeo and Juliet - Prokofiev
  • Sabre Dance - Khachaturian
  • An American in Paris - Gershwin
  • Rhapsody in Blue - Gershwin
  • Concerto for 4 Saxophones - Glass

Teaching Philosophy

Music is a skill. Talent is a factor, as with most things, but music can and should be taught to anybody. I accept and encourage any and every student, including nontraditional students and students with special needs.

As with most everything else, there are no shortcuts in music. Students must learn to work and keep working until they achieve what they want.

Every student can learn music. This means every student, regardless of age, race, gender, culture, talent level, or special need. When I started teaching, this was a belief. Now I have countless examples that this is a truth.

Music connects us all in ways we don’t understand. Through music, we feel connected emotionally to our fellow performers and to our audience. This is emotionally fulfilling and satisfying. As a result, I place great emphasis on feeling music, both as a performer and a listener.

Good pedagogy combined with good teaching can boost a student’s progress. I make a personal study of as much pedagogy as I can. This way, I have many possibilities to boost student achievement. I hate when someone wastes my time so I don’t waste my students’ time. As I continue to learn and grow I can share that with my students.

Good musicians should be excellent readers and develop an excellent musical ear. The two are not mutually exclusive and the best musicians will require both abilities.

Music develops the brain better than any other activity. Researchers have studied the effects of musical study on the brain for decades and consistently arrive at the same conclusion: nothing is better for your brain than music, especially before the age of 7. Most instrumental study happens after the age of 7, so that means foundational music lessons must happen before age 7.

Performing music with others teaches character traits that are essential in any field. Teamwork, respect, shared vision, resiliency, drive, and discipline are just a few of the many character traits that music fosters. These are valuable in any field at any level and I will foster them in my classroom.

Music should be taught from a young age and continued throughout a child’s life. The best way to give children musical skills that stay with them for a lifetime is to start them with a solid foundation from the ages of 3-12. This includes music reading, developing a musical ear, critical listening, historical context of music, and music theory.

Musical study fosters an interest in other subject areas. Music does not exist in a vacuum and children will become naturally curious about history, other arts, and reading as a result of performing music. This is facilitated by a knowledgeable, enthusiastic teacher who prompts students to make connections to other subject areas and explore them in relation to the music they are learning.

Children should be given a musical foundation that lets them choose their own musical style without barriers. If a child is taught the fundamentals of music at a young age, it removes barriers to any style of music that speaks to them. They can then choose the musical areas that fulfill them most and thus be more successful.

My success as a music teacher is determined by how many students keep playing and creating music when they leave my classroom as well as how long they keep doing it. I want to provide the best possible musical experience with the highest level of skills for each student, but ultimately it means nothing if they don’t continue doing music in some fashion. I don’t care if it’s strumming a guitar in their dorm room in college or performing in a major symphony, I want them to keep playing and writing music. This means that part of my job is finding them opportunities to keep the passion alive outside of my classroom.

Students need good examples. This applies to everything, but for my classroom specifically it means quality recordings of quality musicians, live performances at the school, and live performances in the community. It also means that I need to walk the talk and keep performing and writing.

Students must create their own music. This should start as early as possible and continue regularly. Quite a few teachers don’t teach music composition or improvisation at all. I experienced this in my own music education. To this day I struggle to write my own music, although I work to overcome that. I understand why my teachers didn’t teach how to do this and why many teachers don’t, but I don’t think it is in the best interest of my students. They need to write their own music.

Music creates commonality among people who may not otherwise have it. In the United States it’s especially crucial that we have a common ground of respect where we can mingle with people different from ourselves and our dominant social groups. Music also gives families an activity they can perform together, as basic musical skills can be made available to anyone regardless of age or experience.

Thoughts? Email me and let's talk about it!

Want Lessons?

Teaching music is my absolute passion in life. I spend most of my free time studying the best methods, old and new, to make you a better musician.

When you are looking for a private teacher, you need someone who can get you to where you want to be. A private teacher shouldn't be "one-size-fits-all." I'm able to teach any level of saxophonist from beginner to college student, amateur to serious aspiring professional, but my absolute favorite students are usually between the ages of 7-18. I also teach beginning/intermediate flute and clarinet lessons.

My serious students have been accepted to schools such as the University of Southern California, San Diego State University, Boston University, New York University, Northern Arizona University, and more.

Standard lesson rate: $30/half hour

Lessons are taught at my studio. Arrangements can be made to teach at your school if you have your school band director contact me or, in rare cases, I will come to your home for an additional gas fee.

Students are expected to pay for the month in advance. I have a 24-hour cancellation policy (cancellations are only allowed within 24 hours in extreme emergency, otherwise you MUST give me 24 hours notice). Students who do not adhere to the policy are responsible for paying the full lesson fee. If I have to cancel with less than 24 hours notice and it is not an extreme emergency, you will receive your next lesson free.

Learning the basics of the saxophone is very simple, but mastering the instrument is a task that you can work on for your entire life. The problem-solving skills, self-discipline, creativity, and confidence you develop by learning an instrument can be transferred to any discipline imaginable. Learning an instrument is not difficult with the right teacher, but it does require hard work over time.

I have taught students ranging from retirees to 7-year-olds and I have helped students learn how to play, make regionals and audition into university programs. Let me help you!

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I require that all my students have the following materials:
  1. A mouthpiece appropriate for your instrument and style of playing (to be discussed in lessons)
  2. A working instrument
  3. Reeds that are not chipped
  4. A lesson notebook for writing down assignments
  5. Method books and music that is assigned over the course of private study

These materials can all be obtained from various music stores in San Diego county or over the internet. We can discuss what specific products may be best for you.

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Contact me now and get started on your musical future!

mike at graywind dot org

(619) 663-9852

Student Resources

Saxophone Methods/Solo Books:

Melodies for the Young Saxophonist - Larry Teal (Amazon.com)

Eugene Rousseau Saxophone Methods - Book 1 (Sheetmusicplus.com)

Eugene Rousseau Saxophone Methods - Book 2 (Sheetmusicplus.com)

Concert and Contest Selection - H. Voxman (Amazon.com)

Saxophonist's Workbook - Larry Teal (Weinermusic.com)

18 Expressive Studies - edited by David Hite  (Amazon.com)

18 Exercises of Etudes for Flute - Berbiguier (yes, for flute, we use them) (Amazon.com)

Voicing - Donald Sinta (Amazon.com) Top Tones for the Saxophone - Sigurd Rascher (Amazon.com)

Basic Jazz Conception - Lennie Niehaus (Amazon.com)

Clarinet Methods/Solo Books:

My First Klosé - ed. Dr. Daniel Schmidt (Amazon.com)

Rubank Intermediate Method - Skornicka and Miller (Amazon.com)

Free clarinet sheet music

Rubank Book of Easy Clarinet Solos (Sheetmusicplus.com)

Festival Solos, Book 1 (Clarinet) - Bruce Pearson and Mary Elledge (Musician's Friend)

Scales/Technical Resources:

Supplemental Practice Pages (please click on the appropriate instrument)

Intermediate Sax Scales and Triads

Saxophone Fingering Chart

Clarinet "Scale Master" 

Alto Sax Mouthpieces

Mouthpieces are a VERY personal choice and you should always consult with your private teacher/band teacher before purchasing. Also, try several mouthpieces, then several of your favorite kind. Pick the best one. Below are some quality mouthpieces that my students have used with success, but they are by no means the only options:

Beginner:

Yamaha 4C

Classical:

Vandoren Optimum AL3

Vandoren Optimum AL4

Eugene Rousseau New Classic 4

Selmer C* S90

Ronald Caravan Large Chamber

Jazz:

D'Addario Jazz Select (I recommend a 5 to start, but feel free to try other sizes)

Vandoren V16 A6

Meyer 6 Medium Facing Medium Chamber

Jody Jazz HR* 6M