Berklee Today

Lead Sheet

Using the Best Tools Available

By Vice President for Information Technology David S. Mash '76

Our world today continues to change rapidly—so many of our daily-life routines now differ radically from what they were just a few years ago. The impact of recent technology advancements has greatly changed the way we live, work, and communicate. Over the last decade, cellular phone use in the United States has increased from 16 million subscribers to over 110 million mobile phone users today. Last year, more than 27 million portable computers were sold, and over 225 million people connected wirelessly to the Internet.
Likewise, technology has forever changed the music industry. The past 20 years of revolutionary technical advances have transformed the way music is conceived, composed, performed, produced, and distributed. Technology continues to advance at an even greater pace, affording us ever more powerful musical tools with which to express ourselves and to develop our careers.

Computing power now increases exponentially each year at equivalent or lower cost, resulting in smaller, more powerful, and affordable tools for music creation and production. There has been an explosion of software-based synthesizers and samplers, allowing a musician with a small, relatively inexpensive portable computer to produce music that would have required a great deal of expensive hardware a few years ago, and that would not even have been possible just 25 years ago.

For more than a half-century, Berklee College of Music has demonstrated its commitment to evolving with music by wholeheartedly embracing change. This year we again embrace change through our new initiative to improve the overall Berklee student experience. Beginning in the Fall of 2003, Berklee will require that every entering freshman have a wireless laptop computer outfitted with a specialized suite of software chosen to support their education and to better prepare them for a successful career.

By having their own wireless laptops, students will be more connected to their faculty, fellow students, course materials, and their own work. They'll have access to their music files which are often large and difficult to move between lab machines anytime, anywhere. Many Berklee courses already feature online web-based support materials that students can access with their laptops. For example the complete set of ear training dictation excrcises are available, providing students the means to practice and hone their skills. The required course "Introduction to Music Technology" will take advantage of the laptops by allowing every Berklee student, for the first time, to have hands-on instruction in music technology.
Faculty members will be better able to integrate computers into their teaching and homework assignments with the certainty that students have access to the appropriate hardware and software. Berklee's new portal (my.Berklee.net) provides students with e-mail, calendaring, chat rooms, discussion groups, and personalized web-based information services such as class availability, course companion websites, transcript access, and the beginnings of online registration services.

Berklee is partnering with Apple Computer and several music software developers to provide these laptop systems at the most affordable price possible. To ensure excellent student service, the college will open a new student technology support center on the lower level of the 168 Massachusetts Avenue facility, where the current computer store is now located. Here we will provide training and support for students seeking to maximize the effectiveness of their new laptops. We are expanding our campus network to provide wireless access in all public spaces. Our music technology curriculum and lab facilities already have begun to place greater emphasis on software-based music production tools. Much of what has previously taken up vast amounts of physical space now can be accomplished in the virtual space inside students' laptops.

Berklee's use of technology continues to be a strategic differentiator between Berklee and other music schools. This new initiative will capitalize upon our technological resources and know-how to provide an even more potent Berklee experience. More than a college, Berklee is the world's singular learning lab for the music of today—and tomorrow. We not only recognize the changes technology has brought to music and education, but we also embrace them. We will continue to blaze new trails in music education and to take full advantage of the best tools available as we seek to fulfill our mission to educate, train, and develop students who will excel in music careers.