"Rather than just stuffing students with information, I want to get them to understand the principles behind the information, so that when they go out, they leave the class with an understanding of how things are organized and how to learn other things when presented with them. I want students to know how to be able to operate in a variety of circumstances. The single biggest issue is finding out how you learn, how to break things down, how to find out the atomic elements of the information you're being presented with, so that you don't get overwhelmed."
"In Technology Tools and Sound Processing for Writers, I teach students to use more sophisticated audio tools to bring more sonic polish to their work. So much of today's music is being recorded in home studios and at personal computers—in hotel rooms, on airplanes, and in all sorts of places—and much of the recording process is done by artists themselves. So I want to give my students the skills to do it themselves as professionally as possible."
"In CWP, students get some of the writing and some of the technological things, and you really need both of those nowadays. Gone are the days when you could just be a writer and not worry about the technology at all. The kind of versatility that we have built in to our program, I had to learn on my own through all the gigging I was doing and also working as a recording engineer. If I had come here and learned all that stuff then, it probably would have saved me a lot of time."
"A lot of first-semester students are either away from home for the first time or in a foreign country for the first time, and it's a very daunting place for a lot of them. Some of them feel quite lost and very unsettled. I'm always there to listen, if they need someone to talk to, and I talk about what my experience was like coming from Scotland. I arrived at Logan airport with two suitcases and my saxophone, terrified out of my mind—I didn't know anybody in the whole continent—but then coming up Mass. Ave. in the cab and seeing that sign, Berklee College of Music, that was like winning the lottery."
"Everything we do in Writing Skills is tied to our ears, which is where it has its musical meaning. You can tell someone what something is called, but if you can't sing it or clap it or tap it, it doesn't have a whole lot of meaning. I tell students that the ability to hear clearly is probably the most important skill for a musician."
"I encourage my students to do their homework as though they are going to use it as a professional somehow, somewhere. You never know. I show my students examples of assignments I did when I was a student that I still use. When I get ideas, I go back to my archives, and I can often put together whole songs very quickly."
"I do a lot of work in musical theater and I worked as a designer for theater as well. I'm very fond of theater music and I play show tunes in class. That kind of music is very highly arranged, and comes in all kinds of styles, so it's great for arranging classes."
"I tell my entry-level students in Contemporary Writing and Production that we'll progress very quickly from 'this is a quarter note' to composing an entire score. I encourage students to bring in the music they love, and we learn how to write it. I have a really eclectic international mix of students with lots of different musical tastes and backgrounds. That's one of my favorite things about the class—it's really fun to delve into so many different styles of music."
"The Contemporary Writing and Production Department gives you the chance to be involved in a lot of different aspects of music. You write, you arrange, there's a lot of production, so it covers a lot. CWP will prepare you for a variety of different directions. As a guitarist who plays a variety of musical styles, I draw on my experience to teach real-life situations in my classes."
"I try to relate the class topics to real-life situations, what I had to go through, what I did professionally. This is the project that I want you to do, these are the guidelines. I'm the client, you're the artist. This is your job. You can also do another version of it that's more artistic for yourself, but you need to be able to fulfill the professional aspect of it. When you're out there writing jingles and the client wants it a specific way, you have to do it that way. Or you won't get called again."