Gourley’s path towards music and math


Submitted Photo

Gourley (Left) with his bandmate doing what they love together, playing the guitar.

Writing music and writing formulas. Refining his songs and refining students’ math skills. Sharing his music with crowds and sharing life stories with students.

These are not usually things that occur throughout one person’s lifetime. However, for North Penn High School Math teacher Michael Gourley, this is exactly how he lives his life.

Gourley started his hobby in music in his middle school years. It was through hearing other bands on the radio and getting a guitar that made him pursue music. The music he listened to wasn’t very difficult to play on the guitar. Through this, he started to play.

“When I was in middle school, around 1991, 1992, I decided to buy an electric guitar. I ended up getting a nice Fender Stratocaster which was a really nice guitar for a first guitar. That just so happened to be at the same time where Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and all those bands from the 90’s just popped on the radio, and it was right up my alley,” Gourley said. “I loved the music. The guitar work wasn’t that difficult where as a beginner, I could play most of the music. It was a mixture of getting a guitar and turning on the radio that led me to start playing.”

He got involved in his band during college. He met another guitarist and they started playing together. Not long after, Gourley was contacted by a manager. That manager put together a 5-member band and they started playing all along the East coast.

“When I was in college I continued to play.  I met another person who played guitar as well, and him and I started getting gigs at coffee shops or local restaurants. We just kept doing it over and over again and somehow I ended up getting contacted by a manager who put together a 5-piece band in Philadelphia. The guy was an unbelievable manager, and we played up and down the East coast. He booked us every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday,” Gourley stated.

I met another person who played guitar as well, and him and I started getting gigs at coffee shops or local restaurants. We just kept doing it over and over again and, somehow, I ended up getting contacted by a manager who put together a 5-piece band in Philadelphia.”

— Mr. Michael Gourley

However, Gourley was in college at the time the band formed. Obviously, when you are in college, academics should be the number one priority. Gourley always had academics at the top of his list, but used a vast majority of the time between classes practicing his guitar.

“I would practice because we needed to make sure that not only did we know how to play the songs, but we knew how to play the songs perfectly. I did have to do a lot of practicing between classes,” Gourley explained.

Nowadays, the band Gourley is in consists of only him and one other person. Although the band is only 2 people, he did meet his partner in the other band from college. So they have had roots together for a while now.

“The band that I am in now is just me and 1 other person, but that 1 other person was from that band that I am referencing. I am no longer in that 5-piece band anymore, it is just me playing guitar with somebody else at restaurants every now and then,” Gourley stated.

On a performance day now, they have to stay away from people as much as possible. However, Gourley still gets to play his guitar with his bandmate. Gourley says their main goal of every performance is to entertain everyone in the audience.

“Normally I play guitar on a Friday. I’ll go to work and then go home right around 3 o’clock, I’ll eat dinner real quick and just leave, and spend the rest of the night at a restaurant playing guitar. I have my mask on the entire time, and try to stay away from people the whole time, and try to entertain them. I get home by 10:30 at night,” Gourley said.

Although Gourley loves to play music at night, he still has to do his day job as a teacher.

Gourley says that the most challenging part of teaching in the classroom during the pandemic is the lack of interaction between him and his students. He says he doesn’t really know his students as well as he would like to.

“I don’t get to know my students like I usually do. That’s really where I am having a difficult time teaching this year. A lot of the students that are virtual, I don’t know them. I don’t have that interaction that I like to have with students. It has nothing to do with me trying to teach a pre-calc or calculus course. It is just me trying to talk to a student, “Hey what are you doing this weekend?” You just lose it, and I am having a difficult time with that.”

Gourley loves both teaching students and playing music and hopes that he can continue to do both as best as he can for many years to come.