Michael Ferris, originally from St. Joseph, Michigan, started working in his father’s music store, Ferris Music Center, at the age of sixteen and started playing the classical guitar at the age of seventeen. Having had many wonderful teachers, not only with great talent but also great souls, he moved on to study at the internationally acclaimed Mozarteum University for Music and Applied Arts in Salzburg, Austria (*-Die Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Mozarteum) where he completed his M.A. in Guitar. Michael studied under well-known guitarists Maria Isabel Siewers de Pazur, Joaquin Clerch, Augustin Wiedemann, Ricardo Gallen, and the world-renowned player Eliot Fisk. In doing so, he has not only learned the instrument, but lived out his dreams.Having the chance to gain an array of experience during his travels in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, he is now able to speak several languages fluently and works at an international company in Vienna. In addition to this, he still teaches guitar and holds courses in Business English at a local college on the weekends.
His latest book is Crossing Borders.
You can visit his website at www.crossingborders.ferrisguitar.com or connect with him at Facebook at and Twitter at http://twitter.com/ferrismichael. Visit his book’s facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Crossing-Borders-by-Michael-Ferris/178577402162088.
Q: Thank you for this interview Michael. Can you tell us what your latest book, Crossing Borders, is all about?
It is about how I came to Austria to study guitar with dreams of studying with a famous guitarist, accomplishing that dreams and how I ended up living here in the end. Of course, living in a different country and traveling, a lot more things happened then just learning to play the guitar.
The story of how I came here to study is really quite fascinating. I have to say that I had always thought it would make a nice story. That is why I wrote a two-page article and submitted it to Classical Guitar Magazine. Well, to my great surprise, they published it! That was the definite incentive to want to write even more.
I have had a lot of very strange cultural experiences in Austria that I have quite often contemplated in my mind again and again. Then the thought came to mind that others could also benefit from the cultural knowledge I‘ve acquired throughout the years. I actually wish I had read a book similar to Crossing Borders before traveling to Europe. It may have given me a small head start to it all so that I would have been able to avoid a lot of the mistakes I made.
Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?
I would say I went through a lot of life experiences. I realized that when people write autobiographies, they are usually much older than I am. Yet, it is really the distance from home that has made me able to contemplate about life to such an extent to write a story about my life. I really have had a ton of very odd and exciting experiences which I would have never had if I had staying in the states.
Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?
Be open to new things and do not judge people until you really know them. My book takes the reader on a cultural trip, showing that things are not always what they seem, especially when dealing with a different culture. This is one of the greatest challenges for people even working in an international environment and something that human resource experts struggle with on a day to day basis at many companies. Gestures, intonation, paralingual expression in general, cannot be judged when dealing with a person from a different culture. In addition, even certain actions are not understood at first sight. It is important to remember that there is a rhyme and reason to everything. It is important to at least allow the time to find out what it is before making a definite judgment.
Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?
On our way to Casablanca, we had what we called ‘the bus ride from hell’. The bus was hot, there was no music, and above all, it kept stopping. It smelled bad, like an armpit that had not seen deodorant for a long time. Suddenly, the bus stopped in the middle of a desert for about forty-five minutes. We thought it was broken down and we started getting really worried. The bus driver shockingly ordered all women to stay in the bus. Going outside to the big group of men talking, I saw the man who originally collected our bus tickets. He was about my age with black oil smeared all over his face wearing a tattered shirt.
“What is the matter? Has the bus broken down?” I asked.
“Give me a cigarette and I will tell you,” he said. Thinking how strange his response was, I took one out of the package in my pocket and gave it to him.
“The bus is not broken down,” he said lighting the cigarette, inhaling and then blowing a smoke ring, “No diesel.”
Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me consists of …. Well, I guess you will have to read the book.
Q: What’s next for you?
Seeing that my son was just born, I plan on concentrating on him a bit and enjoy God’s beautiful gift which was just brought into my life.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview Michael. We wish you much success!
Thanks for having me.