Skip to content

Episode 109: One Teacher’s Path from Professional Musician to Rocking It In the Classroom

He was a professional musician who once toured with some big-name bands like Dixie Chicks, Survivor and Lynyrd Skynyrd. On this episode of the Supercast, we hear about one man’s path from the professional music stage to teaching in the classroom. Find out how Brian Anderson’s career in rock ‘n roll, led him to the classroom.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Join us as we go to South Jordan Middle School to visit a teacher who traded in their recording studio for a classroom.

We're here at South Jordan Middle School with Brian Anderson. Just from the looks of what's sitting around him,iIt's going to be a really interesting interview. But first, Brian, thanks for taking the time. 

Brian Anderson:
You're welcome, thank you. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about your teaching career before we get into all the other stuff.

Brian Anderson:
Well, I definitely have an interest in working with kids and when I came back from doing a little stunt at chiropractic school, I drove the school bus. When driving the school bus, I did some field trips, when doing the field trips I met some teachers. Well, when I met the teachers and I met the students, it just started filling my heart, that I wanted to kind of be a teacher and represent that somewhere. So I started subbing. I started subbing with the Jordan School District and after subbing for four years or so, I looked into getting into the program through, at that time it was ARL, it’s changed a couple of times. I found a charter school that allowed me to teach a few classes there at AISU. I taught audio production, songwriting, photography, film, and a few things like that. They went out of business, so I went back to driving some more bus and, I don't know, this is just a fluke, I went in to check on some insurance stuff at the district and my heart just said, go talk to somebody, see if there's any openings right now with teaching here. I asked if I could speak to someone who was over hiring and they said, yeah, go talk to this person. And the person that they sent me to was actually the wrong person, but that person knew Nicole and said, I think she's looking for someone who might fit your background, cause I have a digital media background.

Anthony Godfrey:
So the wrong person became the right person. 

Brian Anderson:
That’s pretty much what happened. She called her on the phone and said, I've got this guy.” She said “Have him send an application, I'll interview him tomorrow.” She interviewed me. It worked out and here I am teaching here at SoJo Middle School. 

Anthony Godfrey:
How long have you been at SoJo now?

Brian Anderson:
So this is my first year. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow! Great. So this is a recent journey? 

Brian Anderson:
I came right about October in the middle of that pandemic thing and took over for someone who had an opportunity to teach somewhere else. I picked it up from there and had a lot of great help with my coworkers. Shout out to them, they're amazing. Everybody here has just been really helpful and great.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about the music because that's the focus of why we're here is to learn a little bit more about that aspect of your career as well.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, well, I wrote songs and did little things in my bedroom, but I didn't realize what I was doing, it was just for fun. 

Anthony Godfrey:
At what point in your life did you start doing this? 

Brian Anderson:
I did that like at 10 years old, 12 years old. I'd play drums with ice cream buckets and we couldn't afford that stuff. I just did stuff that I don't know, MTV influenced me a lot. MTV then was a lot of the eighties acts. So if you remember the eighties much, they all sang high. So I thought, well, I need to sing high too.

Anthony Godfrey:
They did all sing high and then it would modulate and they'd go even higher at the end to give that an emotional punch. What was some of the eighties music that inspired you initially to pursue it? Who were you trying to imitate?

Brian Anderson:
Well, some of my influences, hands down, were Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Europe, and then some of those rock bands like Mötley Crüe and Whitesnake and even Survivor. Some of the guys that I ended up playing music with later on.

Anthony Godfrey:
Hmm. You played okay. Wow. You played okay. We have a lot of layers to go through here. That's very exciting. So those were some of the bands that inspired you and tell me where it went from there.

Brian Anderson:
So I really didn't know how to pursue this thing. I was clueless. No one did music in my family or my relatives didn't do it. So I just started playing in bars, that's where you could play. There wasn't really anybody that hired anybody. I tried to write more music and slowly started having a little repertoire of songs. Then I ran into this company that I heard about that said, come down and try to promote yourself and raise some money for your business. And I thought, well, ‘Hey, if Starbucks goes there and these other companies go there to raise money, I can be a business.’ So they wanted a lot of money to enter this thing. It wasn't a contest, it just cost a lot of money to go. My dad's never given me a dollar and I didn't have $10,000 and that’s what it costs.

I said, “Dad, I really want to go to this thing. I think I can maybe raise some money to help me get my music started. What do you think?” And he didn't say anything and I'm pretty sure it was dead at that point. And the next day came to me with a $10,000 check saying “Go knock it out, go try it.” That blew me away because my dad doesn't give anyone any money. You know, you make your own money. I was able to go there as an artist, as a musician, I played on stage, raised quarter million dollars and came home, was able to pay him back as $10,000 and moved to Nashville and started knocking doors.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. So you raised that money with that performance? Talk about a high stakes interview.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, didn't see that coming. You know, people came out of the woodwork. I met my music attorney there. My first manager I met there, they knew contacts and as most things happen in most situations in life where you meet someone and then it rolls into something else by contacts and their contacts, etc.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what age were you when this happened?

Brian Anderson:
I believe I was 22.

Anthony Godfrey:
And for your dad to just do that out of the blue, that's tremendous.

Brian Anderson:
I couldn't believe it. It was honestly one of those amazing, impossible things that I just don't understand. I don't know what went through his head when I asked. I could only imagine.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Zero to 60. That's like, you know, you're on your own, you gotta do your thing, and here's $10,000 to pursue your dream. That's very inspiring.

Brian Anderson:
He must've thought he wouldn't have gotten it back. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Sure, he was saying goodbye to that $10,000, but, wow. That's really incredible.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah. He's a great guy, amazing. I’m just real blessed with good parents.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you, you raise the money, you get an attorney, you move to Nashville. What happens next?

Brian Anderson:
So I'm down in Nashville and I have a manager who's interested in me at that point. I'm ready to move at a hundred miles per hour and they want me to go 10 miles per hour. It was really difficult. Long story short, it didn't work out. I just wanted to move faster than they wanted me to. They wanted me to sit down and write songs for like three years. I'm like, I've got songs now, let's go. So I found some other managers that were a better move for me. They led me to a contact in Sony, the guy that signed the Dixie Chicks worked with them and a few other acts, got in contact with me and we decided to work together and see where that would go. Even though that didn't lead to some great famous career, nor was I even looking for fame, I just wanted to do my music. They helped me a lot and because I was pop country, I got shelved mostly, even though I got to do events and performances with different acts. I got my chops a little more fine tuned, it didn't lead to anything great and I eventually got out of that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Along the way you've got to work with a number of different bands. Let's find out some of the people you've worked with.

Brian Anderson:
Sure, yeah. I went out of that deal into a deal in LA. This guy was more pop rock, and he had contacts with a guy named Jim Peterik, and Jim Peterik is one of the founders of Survivor. I went to his house and we wrote a couple of songs and hit it off. I’ve got that song here, I can show you too. But that song led to a number of concerts and shows and events with some other acts. So I did some stuff with Night Ranger, did some stuff with 38 Special, with Don Barnes, did a show with them at CNN and with Lynyrd Skynyrd. I did an album with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Anthony Godfrey:
You did an album with Lynyrd Skynyrd? So when people say play some Skynyrd, you can just say, I've been there, done that.

Brian Anderson:
I don’t know about that. This album was a project that we did together called The Day America Cried. It happened after the towers fell and we wanted to put together this project that joined America. I was one of the artists on that project. I was able to go to the studio and work with some of these acts. That's where I've met a number of people, some members of Journey, and I did some shows along the way where we would promote this album called The Day America Cried all over the place. That led to small little venues and intimate venues to super large venues that we were able to perform together.

Anthony Godfrey:
What's the largest crowd that you've played for?

Brian Anderson:
I think 18,000.

Anthony Godfrey:
18,000. Wow.

Brian Anderson:
We also opened for Blessid Union of Souls a couple of times. That was fun because they weren't necessarily a rock band, a great group of guys.

Anthony Godfrey:
You're kind of blowing my mind here. You worked with Lynyrd Skynyrd, members of Journey. You wrote a song with Jim from Survivor. 

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, Jim Peterik. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Tell me a little bit more about that. Is there a moment where you're sitting down with him thinking, okay don't talk about Rocky III. Don't talk about Rocky III.

Brian Anderson:
Of course, those posters are all over in his house. I have this guitar right here that he gave me for Christmas. 

Anthony Godfrey:
He gave you a guitar for Christmas?

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, this is a guitar he toured with and did stuff with Van Halen and all this stuff. He gave me this as a gift.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Now I just need to clarify, I'm sitting right now with you beside a guitar that was used on stage with Van Halen.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, when he would play and do all his hits and tours with many artists, right? Because he's the real rock star. This is the guitar he used. I was over at his house one day and we were working on another song and he said, “Hey, Merry Christmas. Here's one of my favorite guitars.” I said, “What? That's amazing. I’ve got to find a way to get this home.” Cause the plane, you know, I already had enough luggage and things, I had to figure out how to get it home, but that wasn't going to be a problem.

Anthony Godfrey:
All you do is throw away whatever you brought with you and this comes home on your lap the whole time. I’d buy a separate airline ticket for that guitar if I had to.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah. He's been a big influence in my life on a number of levels. For example, he wrote, with a number of other people, Songwriting for Dummies. He put one of the songs that I wrote on the front cover of it and he put me in the book as well. He featured me in a couple of things with a song I wrote called Empty. So I think that I really owe a lot to him for taking me under his wing and introducing me to a lot of people.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back more stories from the studio and the road.

Break:
Do you simply love learning online? We can't wait to have you join the amazing teachers in our brand new Jordan Virtual Learning Academy. In Jordan Virtual Learning Academy schools, we offer innovative, fun and flexible online learning with daily, real-time instruction from teachers. Enrollment is currently open for all K-12 students in Utah. Start on the path to personalized virtual learning success now at http://connect.jordandistrict.org.

Brian Anderson:
This is from a big concert we did. You might recognize this song.

Playing recording of Brian Anderson singing The Search is Over by Survivor.

Anthony Godfrey:
This is one of my favorites. I do love this one.

Brian Anderson:
So he had me perform it for him instead.

Anthony Godfrey:
Really? So this is you? ‘Who am I to blame you?’ I’ve listened to this song hundreds of times. I'm not exaggerating.

Brian Anderson:
I told him, do you know how many girls I've met dancing to your song? That was our first thing. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh yeah. I have swayed to this song many, many times.

 I do see some Grammy swag. I noticed your Grammy shirt as I walked in. Tell me a little bit about that.

Brian Anderson:
When I went to the Grammys, they gave me the Grammy bag and stuff like this.

Anthony Godfrey:
You got the swag bag at the Grammys. Wow.

Brian Anderson:
I went there with Jeff McClusky, who was a radio promoter for everyone, Creed, Lifehouse, everyone. We went there with Sheryl Crow and stayed in their booth. 

Anthony Godfrey:
You went to the Grammy's with Sheryl Crow. Like one does, you know.

Brian Anderson:
You know. It was cool being an honorary member of the Grammy in the Schools. So I was a part of that foundation where the job was to create opportunities for high school students to work with professionals, to get real-world experience and advice about how to have a music career. That just wasn't really in schools. So they had me. My role was to talk about the opportunity at different music conventions to students, about their Grammy camps and to try to get the community to push for more music in the schools.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. That's a very worthy cause. Let's bust out this guitar shall we? Sorry. I just, I would love to get a look at that. I'm a big Survivor fan by the way. Yeah. High on You

Brian Anderson:
Oh yeah. So this is it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. May I? This is pretty cool. It's a cream colored fender Stratocaster, isn't it? 

Brian Anderson:
You see how it’s kinda faded a little bit. It’s a wide neck Stratocaster, that's what you'd call it. 

Anthony Godfrey:
A wide neck. Okay. 

Brian Anderson:
You’re touching a guitar there that’s been through quite a few shows.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. That feels really good. That is so cool. I can't even believe that.

Brian Anderson:
It’s kind of like performing at the Whiskey a Go Go. They had me play up there.

Anthony Godfrey:
You've played the Whiskey a Go Go? 

Brian Anderson:
I played the Whiskey a Go Go. If you know who's played the Whiskey a Go Go, I think I made a list here. The Doors, Chicago, Led Zeppelin, U2, Van Halen, Guns n’ Roses, Mötley Crüe.

Anthony Godfrey:
Basically my entire time machine fantasy concert list was played at the Whiskey a Go Go.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah. It was pretty cool to show up there and just be on that stage, you know.

Anthony Godfrey:
Was that you performing, were you performing with a group? 

Brian Anderson:
We were the performers that night.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh wow. That’s incredible to perform on that stage. 

Brian Anderson:
It was a high, that’s for sure.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. I feel like we could talk all day. That the stories would just keep unfolding. That is so cool. Well, I'd love to hear a song of yours.

Brian Anderson:
Okay. Well.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about this one.

Brian Anderson:
So as you know, music's not always straight shot up and there's a lot of dynamics in it. One of the times where we weren't sure where things were going with my career, I was traveling to California to do another show with my band. In that car, I'm just thinking, how cool is this, that we're riding to California or driving here. We get to play these shows with some acts and we get to do music for a living. I was just reminiscing on that and I just decided to start writing this song called The Ride. So this is a real acoustic version and I can give you a CD of the more rock version of this.

Brian Anderson singing and playing guitar:

Watching you breathe next to me,
There’s no other place I want to be.
It takes me away to think of you.
I'm holding on, on to you.

Cause I wanna ride,
I wanna ride.
Can you feel it? Can you feel it pass you by?
I wanna ride.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. The crowd goes wild. That's fantastic. That's a hit in my book. That's good stuff. Wow. And just the way that you play, it's obvious that you're very, very skilled. I pick up a guitar and, anyway, it's just so smooth. Well done. That's awesome. So tell me, what advice would you give to parents if their child is maybe interested in music, shows an interest in songwriting, what would you suggest?

Brian Anderson:
I would suggest starting them right away. They may never pursue it, but what it can do for them can open their mind to so many avenues and unlock the doors that might stay shut. That introduced other things that would have never begun because they didn't pursue maybe that passion. It's kind of like math. It's like you might ask yourself, why am I doing this math problem? But it opens up other things inside the mind that might introduce you to be better at something else. I feel that music can connect on so many levels with other people and with yourself and you grow. To have them right away, start doing some kind of lesson on an instrument or even a vocal lesson. Try to get them into songwriting so they can express that talent as a package.

Anthony Godfrey:
There's a lot to be gained, like you said, even if it isn't going to be a career or something that you pursue long term, just from engaging with that and tapping into your creative side. There's a lot of advantage to having that in your life.

Brian Anderson:
Growth can come from that and you would never know it unless you tried to harness it. A lot of it is buried to be honest for me, my music was buried until I was 18. I didn't even know that I really was good at it and could do it until after high school.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, it's been a huge treat talking with you. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed stopping by and hearing your stories. You've been closely connected with a lot of music and artists that I've loved over the years. You've been part of that industry, which is just fascinating to me. So thank you so much for spending the time and for everything you're doing for the students here at South Jordan. We're sure lucky to have you here.

Brian Anderson:
Oh, I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks for letting me go down memory lane again.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.

Share the Supercast!