Meet Our Teachers

John Lamb is the founder of Backbeat Music Academy, and is dedicated to setting students up to achieve whatever they set their goals on. This means breaking down barriers – developing the physical skills, the mental tools and above all, mindset to get past the roadblocks to success. 

John has taught for over 20 years, has a Masters in Education, graduate-level certificates in eLearning, Training and Development and Teaching Adults, and a B.S. in Music, Psychology and Biology. He has also studied with Bernard Purdie (Steely Dan, Aretha Franklin, James Brown). He has played professionally around the US and Asia, starting when he was 15 years old. 

John teaches nationally, doing clinics and master classes around the US and Canada. These are mostly around his book, Anatomy of Drumming. John Has also written several other books, including Anatomy of Guitar Playing, Start Playing Drums and The Boots And Cats Book which just came out this year. He also writes regularly for DRUM! Magazine and Computer Music Magazine. John endorses Remo Drum Heads and Tama Drums.

Dave Fleschner has performed with B.B. King, The Pointer Sisters, Steve Miller, and The Portland Symphony Orchestra just to name a few. He has toured internationally with Grammy Nominated Earl ThomasCurtis Salgado (John Belushi’s inspiration behind the Blues Brothers), John Nemeth and Karen Lovely. In demand as a producer, composer, arranger, music director and as a sideman, Dave’s music displays a deep understanding of American roots music. He has released several albums as a bandleader.

Dave’s theatre and film credentials are also wide-ranging. On stage, his partnership with playwright Wayne Harrell has resulted in writing music for three different musicals: Buried FireJust This One, and Gospel Blues.  He also arranged and led the band through 1940′s wartime era 1945, A Christmas from Home. He has been in the pit orchestra for Jesus Christ Superstar, Always Patsy Cline, and for many of the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus shows. He has also written multiple arrangements for the PGMC, one of which featured an entire concert of his own compositions. For the silver screen, he has composed music for documentaries and short films. 

Dave is also the music director for United by Music North America, a performance organization for differently abled musicians.

Sergio Elisondo has a BA in Music and a Masters in Education from San Jose State University. Sergio is a multi-instrumentalist, a visionary, and a pioneer of new forms of musical entertainment and has an insatiable appetite for pushing the boundaries of technology and music. He has taught music for over 10 years in both formal classroom and private instruction on music theory and practicums in: piano, guitar, drums, bass, voice and ukulele.

Having refined his performance skills both informally (rock bands) and formally (SJSU), he has performed with a multitude of productions, bands, and choirs. His professional choir singing experience reflects the works of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda and National Geographic’s Symphony For Our World; having sung tenor solos at sold-out, highly acclaimed venues such as San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. His personal hologram production known as “Sergio and the Holograms” is a tech-progressive live performance involving life-sized hologram projections, where he records, films, and projects a multi-instrumentation band of himself; while he plays the guitar live as the front-man. This production has been performed at many highly acclaimed video game/comic conventions such as Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC), Music and Gaming (MAG) Festival, Oregon’s Portland Retro Gaming Expo, and Arizona’s Game On Expo. He has also won grants from to compose music(Stanford), instructional videos (San Jose State University), composed music for indie video games (both retro and modern), and short documentaries.

Luciana Proaño is a dancer and percussionist from Peru with an extensive career as a in Europe, Mexico, South America and the US. She performs solo and with Inka Jam, whose music includes originals from the band members and some traditional covers in a variety of styles with an Andean flare. Many of the pieces also include a dance performance in traditional costume. In her teaching, she takes a student-led, Montesorri-style approach oriented towards getting her students to understand music. She also focuses on developing growth-mindset and strives to create an environment where students feel OK to make mistakes and learn to grow from them. She also may include dance in her lessons if she feels it appropriate or the students are interested.

Sami R. Shkolnik has been teaching music for serval years in California, and recently moved up to Oregon. She holds a BA in Piano Performance from Mills College, where she won the Flora Boyd piano performance prize. Sami has studied with noted teachers such as Belle Bulwinkle, Svetlana Elenkova, Natallia Lobenberg, and Ruzanna Farmazyan. In addition to music, Sami is passionate about animals and animal welfare. She volunteers for PMR horse rescue in her spare time and studies dressage horseback riding. She also holds an MBA in marketing from Mills College. 

Dustin Silva is a composer, singer/songwriter and poet. He studied at Musician’s Institute in LA as a teenager and won a summer scholarship to Berklee College of Music. His interest in Indian music led him to study at the Ali Akbar College of Music. As a teacher, Dustin specializes in injury prevention and recovery with an emphasis on proper body mechanics. His expertise in this area comes from 7 years of study under somatic educator and Body Mapping expert, Lisa Marsh.

Born into a musical family, Alden Zac began studying the violin at five years old with the Suzuki Technique. After several years on the violin that featured intensive ear training, he began studying classical piano, cementing the foundation of his broad interests across genres. He continued to study piano as his interest in viola and electric bass began to blossom in his middle school years. High school led to playing bass in his sister’s band while performing on viola seriously.
For college, his acceptance at the Berklee College of Music for viola performance was a highlight, but due to tendonitis-related injuries, he was unable to attend. He instead began to study to be an audio engineer at Spokane Falls Community College. From this experience, he learned that he is a performer and not an engineer. He switched school to attend Portland State University to earn a degree in Philosophy, as the conceptual boundaries between perception and creation have always interested him. He constantly draws on his past as a classical musician in chamber groups as he performs with groups currently, but also enjoys drawing upon influences from classic rock, progressive rock, funk, and alternative hip hop as he creates new music. His band recently toured with Modest Mouse.

Ian Garner is a multi-instrumentalist who has taught drums, horns, piano, guitar, ukulele and band classes for over a decade. He began seriously playing music in the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and The Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra (PCJO) in Portland, Oregon in 2009. These groups played Jazz Festivals around the country and with various artists, notedly playing lead trombone on this song with Esperanza Spalding. The composition went on to win a Grammy award for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 2011. 


Ian has also traveled around the US and Carribean with projects ranging from playing Trombone in the Broadway show, Hairspray and touring the US on drums with Bubba Feathers, the Rockabilly heir to Charlie Feathers (Elvis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash). 

Ian studied Music Education, Arranging, and Performance at Central Washington University, where he played with and arranged for Chamber Groups, Wind Ensembles, and various Jazz Ensembles, ranging from an Organ Duet, where he played the Drums to playing Lead Trombone in  CWU ‘s top Jazz Ensemble.  



Jackson Smood II is a guitarist and songwriter who has been living in the Portland area since he was 2. He began seriously playing at the age of 12 after seeing the live acoustic version of Hotel California by The Eagles and vividly remembers the feeling of “I have to be able to do that!” By 15, Jackson was performing locally and attended a summer program at Berklee where he started studying with Jeff Putterman. With an inherent passion for learning, he also took extensive music courses while earning his B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of Oregon and a Post-Bacc in Physics from Portland State University.

In homage to his upbringing geared toward the sciences and his rewarding time in academics, his “Eureka!” moment finally came when he realized his love of teaching and music were not mutually exclusive, but rather the solution to the existential problem of what he should dedicate his life to. Since accepting his true path as a musician, he is grateful for every day that he is able to merge his two great passions and views it as a privilege to be able to share that experience with others while serving as a guide towards enjoying one of life’s greatest gifts…playing music.

Daniel Reyes Llinas musical career began when he started to teach himself guitar at the age of 10. Later he formalized his training with guitarist Carlos Castilla, Carlos Rocca and Jaime Arias at Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia. Daniel has also attended masterclasses with Leo Brouwer, Eduardo Fernandez, Ricardo Cobo, among many others. In 2001 he was selected among the ‘Youngest Performer Series’ at Luis Angel Arango Music Hall in Bogotá and broadcast by the iconic HJCK radio station. He also received the 2010 Bang on a Can fellowship. 

Since March 2004 Daniel has been a resident performing artist with renowned guitarist Robert Fripp’s groups, The League of Crafty Guitarists and The Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists. With these bands, he tours South America, Europe and North America.

Daniel’s works are featured in the various shorts and feature including films: La Cascara de la Nuez (2003), Mosaic (2007) and Carmen G (2012). He is also the lead composer of the NYC based Parias Ensemble, an instrumental group dedicated to blurring the nature of improvisation and notated music. His first album, Molino is available on iTunes and Amazon, and his second album, En Remolinos, is due out on 09/21/18.