WHO WE ARE

OUR TEAM IS OUR SECRET SAUCE

OUR CO-FOUNDERS

DAN

(he/him)

DAN SABO // CO-FOUNDER

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Education + Master of Music

NEXT MASTERCLASS HE'S TAKING: How to be a bike mechanic

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: He lived in Slovakia for three months

FEELS MOST ALIVE WHEN: Flying down a trail on his mountain bike

NELLA

(she/her)

NELLA SABO // CO-FOUNDER

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Commerce + MBA

NEXT MASTERCLASS SHE'S TAKING: Growing wild and wonderful gardens

FEELS MOST ALIVE WHEN: Going for a long run or cross-country ski

NEXT PLACE SHE'S TRAVELLING: Rio

MEET THE REST OF OUR TEAM

TYLER

(he/him)

TYLER FALK // DRUMS, GUITAR, PIANO

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music (in progress) 

FOOD THAT MAKES HIM GAG: Cheese

NEXT PLACE HE'S TRAVELING: Australia or Sweden

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: that he can run REALLY fast!

ESTHER

(she/her)

ESTHER FORSETH // VOCALS, PIANO, GUITAR

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Jazz & Contemporary Popular Music (in progress)

ONE FOOD THAT MAKES HER GAG: Sushi or anything with raw fish

IF SHE COULD JAM WITH ANY BAND: The Beatles - to witness their performance & songwriting magic

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: She hiked the Himalayas in Nepal & didn't shower for 3 months!

WILL

(he/him)

WILL SCOTT // BASS, GUITAR, DRUMS

EDUCATION: Diploma in Music, Recording Arts Major

NEXT PLACE HE'S TRAVELLING: South America

DREAM BAND TO JAM WITH: Can

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: He doesn't have a thyroid

FRAN

(he/him)

FRAN RIZZUTO // GUITAR, VOCALS, UKULELE, PIANO, BASS

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Popular Music

NEXT PLACE HE'S TRAVELLING: New Zealand to see the Shire.

FOOD THAT MAKES HIM GAG: Pickles!

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: He once held the high score on a Pac Man arcade machine.

MIRANDA

(she/they)

MIRANDA SMITH // VOCALS, UKULELE, PIANO, GUITAR

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music in Performance (in progress)

NEXT MASTERCLASS SHE'S TAKING: Jewelry making!

NEXT PLACE SHE'S TRAVELING: Backpacking around Europe

FOOD THAT MAKES HER GAG: Onions 

ANGELA

(she/her)

ANGELA PROULX // BASS, GUITAR, DRUMS, PIANO

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music 

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: I'm a hardcore introvert

NEXT PLACE SHE'S TRAVELLING: New Orleans, baby!

FOOD THAT MAKES HER GAG: Nothing, she likes everything!

JD

(he/him)

JD SPEELMAN // BASS, GUITAR, DRUMS, PIANO

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music, Composition Major

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: He's terrible with technology

NEXT PLACE HE'S TRAVELING: Ireland

FOOD THAT MAKES HIM GAG: Pickles 

CLAYTON

(he/him)

CLAYTON AMERO // GUITAR, PIANO, BASS

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Jazz & Contemporary Popular Music, Guitar Major + Diploma in Jazz & Contemporary Popular Music.

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: He used to help run his family's firewood business!  

NEXT PLACE HE'S TRAVELING: Yerevan, the capital of Armenia

FOOD THAT MAKES HIM GAG: He loves it all!

WREN

(he/him)

WREN KAUFFMAN // STUDIO COORDINATOR

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts, Psychology Major (in progress)

NEXT MASTERCLASS HE'S TAKING: How to knit a sweater.

NEXT PLACE HE'S TRAVELLING: Hmmmm...probably somewhere with a lot of frogs.

HE FEELS MOST ALIVE: When it's Halloween!

RYAN

(he/they)

RYAN KORBUTT // DRUMS, GUITAR, BASS

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Popular Music (in progress) 

NEXT MASTERCLASS THEY'RE TAKING: How to hold back the blinding flood of tears that shows up when cutting an onion.

NEXT PLACE THEY'RE TRAVELING: Turkey

IF THEY COULD JAM WITH ANY BAND: Tom Waits!

TAYLOR

(she/her)

TAYLOR MCHUGH // STUDIO COORDINATOR

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts, Criminology Major (in progress) 

FOOD THAT MAKES HER GAG: Bleu cheese

NEXT MASTERCLASS SHE'S TAKING: Mixology

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: Her thumbs bend back at a 90 degree angle!

MARGRET

(she/they)

MARGRET ELEGINO // VOCALS, PIANO, GUITAR

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music (in progress) 

NEXT MASTERCLASS THEY'RE TAKING: Foreign languages. All of them!

NEXT PLACE THEY'RE TRAVELING: Japan

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: they grew up and lived in Saudi Arabia for 10 years!

JAKE

(he/him)

JAKE PEAKE // DRUMS, GUITAR

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music in Jazz & Contemporary Pop, Composition Major (in progress)

NEXT MASTERCLASS HE'S TAKING: Drawing or painting

NEXT PLACE HE'S TRAVELING: Seoul, Korea

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: He played water polo!

RYDER

(he/him)

RYDER MCGINNIS // VOCALS, GUITAR, PIANO

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music with major in Vocal Performance (in progress) 

NEXT MASTERCLASS HE'S TAKING: How to write teen sci-fi/fantasy

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: He was a junior national team swimmer

FOOD THAT MAKES HIM GAG: Coconut

JESS

(they/them)

JESS TOLLESTRUP // PIANO, VOCALS, GUITAR

EDUCATION: Diploma in Applied Music

NEXT MASTERCLASS THEIR TAKING: Hide tanning! They like to hunt deer. 

THEY FEEL MOST ALIVE DURING: A morning sunbeam coffee. A piano
scale played leisurely. Standing in the branches of a tree.

FOOD THAT MAKES THEM GAG: The sauce on the donair pizza from Dominoes. 

DONOVAN

(he/they)

DONOVAN LANE // BASS, DRUMS, GUITAR, PIANO

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music (in progress)

NEXT MASTERCLASS HE'S TAKING: History of Asia

IF HE COULD JAM WITH ANY BAND: Snarky Puppy! They’re an absolutely monster group and he loves their musicality. 

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: He can juggle! 

ANNA

(she/they)

ANNA APPLETON // PIANO, GUITAR, VOCALS, DRUMS

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Music (in progress) 

FOOD THAT MAKES HER GAG: Room temperature protein-shakes

NEXT MASTERCLASS SHE'S TAKING: Lead climbing

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW: She was on the wrestling team in high school!

OUR STORY

Dan was a junior high band teacher who ran an after-school rock program. Nella was working in the world of post-secondary and had a deepset curiosity about people and business. They both believed in the potential and capacity of youth with all their hearts.

Fast forward a few years, Dan decided to take a break from teaching to pursue his Master of Music. This is when the conversations started. This is when the dreams started. They started to dream about creating something different. About introducing kids to a whole new way of learning music. They imagined community, creativity, belonging. And fun! Having a crazy amount of fun.

In 2012, Dan and Nella decided to take the leap and Backbeat was founded on Whyte Ave in Edmonton. They started with about 25 students, one rock band and a life-size cardboard cut-out of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. Today, Backbeat has taught hundreds of kids and formed dozens of kid rock bands. Backbeat students have played on stages at major festivals, community events, and in back alley rock shows.

We're changing the way kids learn music. We're giving them a fun place to connect and try new things so they can grow in confidence and be proud of who they are.  As for Sheldon? He's still here, but...well...let's just say he's not exactly aging gracefully.

WANT TO JOIN THE FUN?

Use the button below to see if we're hiring and learn more about what we look for in a new team member.