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Michael Johnson

Associate Professor
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Michael Johnson is an associate professor in the Contemporary Writing and Production Department at Berklee College of Music. He is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, composer/arranger, and producer/engineer. His vocal and instrumental arrangements and compositions have been performed by groups all over the United States since the late 1980s. As a vocalist and guitarist, he has shared the stage with artists such as Take Six, Jon Secada, Lari White, Dawnn Lewis, and Bob Dorough. His recorded vocals, guitar, and bass have been heard on national television, single and album releases, and commercial jingles.

As a recording engineer, he has worked at studios such as South Beach Studio in Miami, Florida, and New River Studio in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered numerous recordings over the years, from singles and demos to full album projects. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Music from the University of Colorado, as well as a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in Studio Music and Jazz Performance from the University of Miami. His original solo work, as "Michael J. Johnson," can be found on iTunes, Spotify, and other online music services.

Career Highlights
  • Guitarist, vocalist, composer, arranger, producer, and engineer
  • Performances with Jon Secada, Bob Dorough, Lari White, Dawnn Lewis, and Glenn Kaiser
  • Opened for Take Six and Kevin Nealon
  • Arrangements and compositions performed by University of Miami Jazz Vocal 1, Texas All-State Jazz Choir, and many others
  • Session vocalist on tracks for Royal Carribbean Cruise Lines, CPP Belwin, Orange Bowl halftime shows, and various commercial jingles and album projects
  • Producer/engineer on various recording projects, including Kulture Shock by Urban Derivatives, Moment's Notice by University of Miami Jazz Vocal 1, and many others
  • Publications include Pop Music Theory and Songwriting
  • Recordings as a leader include Sonic Cinema, Odyssey, Bay of Pigs, and Manifesto, Vol. 1
  • B.S., University of Colorado
  • M.M., University of Miami
  • D.M.A., University of Miami
In Their Own Words

"I try to make sure that there are plenty of opportunities for students to be doing what I'm teaching. Especially in the technology classes, I try to get them to follow along with me on their own computers. One of my overarching philosophies for teaching is that I don't want to just give them the material, but I also want to give them the tools to keep learning it on their own after they've left my class. With the technology classes, especially, I want to give them enough of a taste of tools like GarageBand and Reason so that they can get deeper into it on their own, even if they don't end up taking the next class."

"I wish I had gone to Berklee because a lot of the stuff we teach here I had to learn on the street. My undergrad was a little bit more of a traditional classical education. I would say three-fourths of the things I'm teaching in Writing Skills I learned on my own. They're skills that they're going to need when they get out of here. That's what I love about Berklee, that we're teaching real-world skills instead of conceptual things that they're never going to end up using when they get out of here."

"In CWP, students get some of the writing and some of the technological things, and you really need both of those nowadays. Gone are the days when you could just be a writer and not worry about the technology at all. That's what I think is so special about our program. And I think it really applies to a variety of people, even people who might be more interested in being a performer but also want to write their own material and do their own recordings. Nowadays, especially in the pop music world, you need all those skills. A lot of the big studios are gone, and with stuff that's happening with the record labels, if you can make your own records and sell them yourself, you're going to make a lot more money. The kind of versatility that we have built into our program, I had to learn on my own through all the gigging I was doing and also working as a recording engineer. If I had come here and learned all that stuff then, it probably would have saved me a lot of time."