Idol Judge in the Classroom

By 
Liz Lupton

Top songwriter, producer, record and publishing executive, and TV personality Kara DioGuardi brought her incomparable songwriting and production experience to Berklee during the fall 2012 semester. DioGuardi developed and taught the course “Hit Songwriting” that paired student songwriters and producers, mirroring today’s music industry practices. DioGuardi handpicked the 27 students who auditioned to take the course.

One of the industry’s most successful contemporary songwriters, DioGuardi has written songs appearing on more than 160 million albums. She has authored more than 50 charting singles with artists such as Katy Perry, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani, Colbie Caillait, Rascal Flatts, and Céline Dion. Additionally, she was a judge for seasons eight and nine of the TV show American Idol.

“I taught the course at Berklee because I want to help educate and guide songwriters and artists in the early part of their careers,” DioGuardi says. “I love working with promising talent, and my aim has been to share my experiences with my students to better prepare them creatively and emotionally for an industry fraught with change and competition.”

Berklee President Roger Brown observes, “What Kara did at Berklee is important because she is simulating the most popular songwriting model our students will encounter when they leave campus: working in small teams that combine writers and producers in real time. She has obviously thrived as a writer, and she is helping our students get ready for action.”

As Songwriting Department Chair Jack Perricone says, “Kara’s presence at Berklee was energizing and enlightening to the students. She focused them on the importance of concepts and the fact that clichéd ideas won’t carry them through to the next level.”

Perricone found that DioGuardi’s course deeply energized the participants. “Kara is among an elite group of writers whose standards for excellence also coincide with the demands of the marketplace,” Perricone says. “She brought that perception along with a warmth and human understanding to the classroom. This course affected each of the students greatly and will change some of their lives.”