Harmony Faculty

Kris Adams

Professor, Harmony
kadams@berklee.edu | 617 747-8447

"As a singer, I can share a different perspective with students. Singers and drummers usually do things by ear. Drummers are dealing with rhythm, and a lot of times they say, 'Why do I need to know this stuff? I'm just a drummer.' But if you talk to famous drummers who write and lead bands and compose, it's a lot more."

Kevin Bleau

Assistant Professor, Harmony
kbleau@berklee.edu | 617 747-8603

"Arranging music is a very powerful discipline. Arrangers tell performers how to play by the marks they write on the page, so I tell my students to embrace that power. Be clear. Be specific. And insist that performers follow your instructions." 

Eric Byers

Assistant Professor, Harmony
ebyers@berklee.edu | 617 747-2834

"I'm a strong believer in process; you learn by doing. So starting in the first few weeks of my arranging classes, students arrange something every week. I don't really think you can learn much about any art form without actually getting your hands dirty. I want my students to gain the ability to notate, transcribe what they hear, and put down on paper what's in their heads. I don't know if you can really develop an idea unless you have the the skills to articulate what you're hearing inside your head."

Charles Cassara

Professor, Harmony
ccassara@berklee.edu | 617 747-8137

"In my writing classes my students have to not only write tunes, but also write their own arrangements for them. Even students who have never written a tune before, I'll tell them, 'Well, you've got to start at some point, so were going to start now.' So we start out simple, but by the end they write an arrangement, record it, and perform it in class."

Jeff Claassen

Assistant Professor, Harmony
jclaassen@berklee.edu | 617 747-8076

"Students deal with these varying perspectives all the time. If you’re looking at a band, you have to communicate and explain to the drummer, ‘I want a rock groove.’ What does that mean? That’s the whole spectrum of what we hear on the radio. To actually know and be able to show him, how can you do that if you’re a trumpet player? Show that I thought about your instrument enough to be able to communicate with you. It’s a very application-oriented approach to harmony."

 

Suzanne M. Clark

Associate Professor, Harmony
sclark@berklee.edu | 617 747-8687

"We call it 'music theory' because in a sense it is theoretical until you actually put it to sound. So I try to stress in class not to get caught up in your head to the extent that it's all calculated. In the end, you either confirm or affirm your theory by listening to it and saying, 'Yes, I hear that the leading tone wants to move to do, or that fa wants to move to mi.' I want my students to develop their own ear and make connections between what they hear outside of class and what goes on inside class."

Winnie Dahlgren

Associate Professor, Harmony
wdahlgren@berklee.edu | 617 747-2829

"Berklee is such a unique place. You get people from all over the world. And though we come from different backgrounds and different cultures, music is one language. There are different styles, but at heart it's the same. We separate the topics into harmony, ear training, arranging, private lessons, etc., but it's important to understand these are all just parts of the puzzle. It's about learning the rules, and once you do, you understand how you can then go out and break the rules."

Stephen Dale

Professor, Harmony
sdale@berklee.edu | 617 747-8151

“All professional contemporary musicians, no matter what style they favor, should have a degree of what I call ‘harmonic improvisation’ skill. By that I mean the ability to add or change chords selectively in progressions to enhance the harmony and make the music more appealing to the listener. In my harmony classes, I cover each functional group of chords by showing how to use the chords on the spot in a free-wheeling, improvisational way."

Randy Felts

Associate Professor, Harmony
rfelts@berklee.edu | 617 747-8169

"Old tunes also come back from time to time, so I may have several recordings of the same song. In class I can play the original version and then move up to others recorded more recently. I'll put the basic progressions on the board for students to check out. Then, since I have 3,000 pieces of music with me all the time on my laptop, I can jump from 30 seconds of one to 15 seconds of another. Students hear the changes in the arrangement and rhythmic style of the same progression as it mutates through the different eras."

Danny Harrington

Professor, Harmony

"My teaching style is similar to the way I play my horn: pretty much by the seat of my pants. Just like I know what tune I'm playing, I know what lesson I'm talking about. But in the heat of battle, I have no idea how it's going to manifest itself, because a kid asks a question and the next thing you know (laughs), you're talking about music from The Three Stooges or something."

David Harris

Assistant Professor, Harmony
dbharris@berklee.edu | 617 747-6027

"I want my students to understand the necessity to have competent craft beyond their talent. They need to have technical skills beyond just inspiration to be successful, and to have a dogged vision of what it is that they want out of music and pursue it. As a bandleader, who do I hire? Maybe not the most creative person, but someone I know will go out there and aggressively put their mind to what they need to do."

 

Mitch Haupers

Professor, Harmony
mhaupers@berklee.edu | 617 747-8212

"I'm an improviser at heart. I went through all those early teaching years trying to utilize every minute in class with activities, but now I'm trying to get students to teach themselves. They're going to do that ultimately, anyway. Often they have this preconceived notion that teachers are authorities, but I see myself as just someone on the same path that they're on. Perhaps I've been there a little longer, so I can say, 'Maybe you should try this, because this is what it did for me.' I guess my style is more practicing in front of them in order to get them to practice, rather than imposing a subjective set of expectations on them that may or may not apply to their future. I really believe that people are self-motivated already; you've just got to free that up."

Thomas Hojnacki

Assistant Chair, Harmony
thojnacki@berklee.edu | 617 747-8438

"My whole career as a professional musician has been about playing diverse styles of music. I've been fortunate enough to have the kind of training that lets me move pretty easily from one kind of style and performing group to another. So when I teach harmony, I try to show how much of the harmonic structure of music is the same from one style to another. The things that differentiate styles are often superficial."

Lucy Holstedt

Professor, Harmony
lholstedt@berklee.edu | 617 747-8231

"I like to be spontaneous and creative in class. For instance, I ask my students to bring in recordings they like, and I'll develop a lesson from their music right on the spot. It keeps things fresh, and it means they can personally identify with what we're learning."

David Johnson

Professor, Harmony
djohnson@berklee.edu | 617 747-8238
  • B.M.Ed., Hartt School of Music
  • Performances with Pepper Adams, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Joan Rivers, Stevie Wonder, and others
  • International tours with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and the Benny Goodman Tribute Orchestra
  • Clinics and performances in Japan, Europe, Canada, and South America
  • Articles on jazz harmony published in Jazz Player magazine

Darrell Katz

Professor, Harmony
dkatz@berklee.edu | 617 747-8242

"When we study chord scales in Harmony 3, I don't so much want students to memorize a list of the scales they need to know. Instead I want them to understand why somebody says, 'This is the chord scale for this purpose in this time and place.' I really want them to get the philosophy behind it. I feel that if they understand how it's put together, they can come up with the exact scales later, as opposed to just memorizing the information."

Steven Kirby

Associate Professor, Harmony
skirby@berklee.edu | 617 747-8604

"I’m primarily a guitarist, so I play a lot of examples on guitar. I think some of the students find it kind of a novelty that I’m using the guitar as opposed to the piano about half the time. It’s a little more visual; they can see my hands. I also talk about my life as a performing musician. I’ll say things like, 'On the gig last night, the piano player played a different reharmonization or inversion than what I’m used to hearing in that particular song. But I really liked the way it sounded, so I’m going to use it from now on.' It gives them a sense of how this knowledge is used in the real world."

Rick Kress

Associate Professor, Harmony
rkress@berklee.edu | 617 747-8413

"Transcription can easily fall into drafting, but without hearing it, it means practically nothing. So I always integrate hearing and writing, and with the software we use, students can create bits of music, so we can hear them back and make a judgment about how it sounds. What's the melody-harmony relationship? Are the phrases balanced? Are they coherent? Is there a note that sends the phrase in a direction that is never realized? I think the more we do that without students becoming overwhelmed by the prospect, the better."

Alizon Lissance

Associate Professor, Harmony
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online
alissance@berklee.edu | 617 747-8496

"I want my students to leave my classes with a heightened awareness of the inner workings of music, an embracing of the left-brain stuff, a desire to explore harmony and color. For the writers it's a no-brainer. There are a lot more singers here at Berklee now, and I really encourage them to play the piano. I hope my students come away with an openness to use the tools that we give them in their own writing and arranging."

Craig Macrae

Associate Professor, Harmony
cmacrae@berklee.edu | 617 747-8459

"I have long had an interest in Central Asia. In Portland, Maine, where I was working as a musician during the eighties, there were a lot of Iranian and Afghan refugees. I taught myself enough Persian to volunteer in refugee resettlement. Later, as I was finishing my master's in jazz guitar, I was short on gigs one summer, and applied for a government fellowship to study Uzbek language. I got it. One thing leads to another—I went for a doctorate in ethnomusicology. So that's how I ended up putting my interest in music together with an interest in Central Asia."

Rick McLaughlin

Assistant Professor, Harmony

"There's a really beautiful universal language in the way that Berklee thinks about harmony. Not every kind of music operates in the same way that we teach the language, but the tools of understanding harmony at Berklee make it possible for a student to say, 'This note in this context is either right or wrong, a good or bad choice.' It gives students the ability to make the transformation from whatever kind of music we're talking about today to whatever kind of music they go on to explore as artists."

Joseph Mulholland

Chair, Harmony
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online

"The essence of the Harmony Department is music fundamentals as they play out in notation, chord progression, melody, and bass lines. In any other school, they call it theory. And it is theory, but it's much more practical than an ordinary theory class would be. We teach students to take apart the music they listen to and understand how it's put together. They take the music apart like a watch, see what the pieces are and what they're doing. Hopefully, the students learn from that and use that knowledge to create their own music, a watch of their own—but one that still runs."

Stephen Rochinski

Professor, Harmony
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online
srochinski@berklee.edu | 617 747-8335

"There are so many people in the world who would love to be here, but can't. So the online school fills that vacuum. I teach a couple sections of the Harmony class online. The students are generally older, quite bright and experienced, but it runs the entire spectrum of beginners who don't know a quarter note from a 25-cent piece to people who are working professional musicians but who never had a lot of the basic foundations of harmony as they were coming up. The online school helps to bridge that gap."

George Russell Jr.

Professor, Harmony
grussell@berklee.edu | 617 747-2833

"Music is harmony and melody. It's like a vocabulary. Without a vocabulary, it's difficult to speak. You can do it, but it sounds like you don't know what you're saying. As a player myself, knowing harmonic theory gives me a lot of security. I know two plus two equals four. I don't have to guess."

Mike Scott

Professor, Harmony
mscott@berklee.edu | 617 747-2412

"To show my students a practical use for this, I give the example of a singer I occasionally back up on piano at Sunday brunches. She's 50 years old, and at 9:00 a.m. her voice is a whole step lower than it will be an hour later. I have to play all of her tunes a whole step lower. If I didn't have the ability to think in representational terms, instead of literally, it would be very difficult to do."

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