Piano Faculty

Marc Rossi

Professor, Piano
mrossi@berklee.edu | 617 747-8339

"Learning how to learn is very important: learning how to practice, how to be creative, how to organize ideas, how to finish things, how to get from point A to point B, how to take responsibility, and how to be aware of what you're doing. I also want to disabuse students of the notion that it's just about winning or losing. It's about doing something well and the pursuit of excellence."

Ray Santisi

Professor, Piano
rsantisi@berklee.edu | 617 747-2279

"One of the hardest things to learn is to be instantly responsive, to complement what's being played spontaneously by the soloist. I remember learning that lesson early on with Charlie Parker. We were playing a session—the tune was 'I'll Remember April.' Being young, I thought I'd show off and play a lot of chords and stuff. Here I am with an icon, trying to show off, and he stops me cold with, 'Wait a minute. I want to be able to stop anywhere in this tune, and what you're playing should fit,' meaning that the harmony should be there."

Suzanna Sifter

Professor, Piano
ssifter@berklee.edu | 617 747-8353

"My teaching style is individually based on each student's particular musical needs rather than a one-size-fits-all teaching style. I listen to the student play, and assess his or her musical needs on various levels. Then we set goals at the beginning of the semester and follow through by checking in with those goals throughout the semester. It's really individualized. I think this interpersonal style, which includes talking and getting to know the person as well as the musician, can lead to greater exploration along the path of musical self discovery."

Helen Sung

Associate Professor, Piano
hsung@berklee.edu | 617 747-6261

"Here at Berklee I teach private lessons to piano majors. I'm very impressed with my students. They're all very gifted and from all over the world: Korea, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Canada, the U.S., etc. They each come from very different backgrounds and training, yet here they all are at Berklee wanting to learn more about jazz. This really speaks to the global impact of this great American art form."

 

Francesca Tanksley

Associate Professor, Piano
ftanksley@berklee.edu | 617 747-3103

"Respecting the person, the unique direction in which [students] want to go, and their all-around potential, are most important. In this atmosphere, students find a safe environment in which to further explore their own musical voice, while continuing to hone their technique. And the result, they tell me, is real interest and dedication."

Bruce Thomas

Professor, Piano
bthomas@berklee.edu | 617 747-8380

"I've always thought of myself as a composer who plays rather than a player who writes. So my approach to improvising—both doing it and teaching it—is more like composing on the fly, instead of learning a lot of licks and trying to string them together. That never worked for me. Whenever I learned licks I would always spend more time trying to figure out how to cram them in where they didn't really work rather than paying attention to what improvisation is all about: trying to create the best melodies you can."

Stephany Tiernan

Chair, Piano
stiernan@berklee.edu | 617 747-2108

"Good pianists know how to make the instrument sing—to make the piano an extension of themselves. They have a technique that allows them to freely explore the full breadth of expressive devices available to them on a grand piano: dynamics, pedaling, articulation, tempo, phrasing, etc. They also must have a musical imagination, so that they can interpret, improvise, and shape music in a creative way."

Greg Wardson

Associate Professor, Piano
gwardson@berklee.edu | 617 747-8396

"I hope to give students a greater understanding for what it will take for them to be better musicians and people than they were before. I like to see myself as a person who helps to show direction. To me, that's what it's all about. I think the lion's share of anything you have to do to be to be a good musician comes from oneself, but it does help to have somebody to say: 'Why don't you look over in that direction?' It's our job to show people paths that are important."

Bob Winter

Professor, Piano
bwinter@berklee.edu | 617 747-8226
  • B.M., Boston University
  • Extensive experience in clubs, television, radio, and theaters, including performances with Henry Mancini, Teddy Wilson, Buddy DeFranco, Mel Torme, Luciano Pavarotti, Eddie Daniels, Stan Getz, Cleo Laine/John Dankworth, and Airto Moreira
  • Pianist for the Boston Pops Orchestra under John Williams and Keith Lockhart
  • Recordings with the Boston Pops Orchestra and in solo, duo, and quartet settings

Alon Yavnai

Associate Professor, Piano
ayavnai@berklee.edu | 617 747-6288
  • B.M., Academy of Music at the Hebrew University, Israel
  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Studies at the Gyvataim Conservatory, Israel
  • Performances and recordings credits with Yo-Yo Ma, Paquito D'Rivera, Joe Lovano, Freddie Hubbard, Louis Hayes, Nancy Wilson, Rosa Passos, Leni Andrade, New York Voices, and Regina Carter
  • Winner of two Grammy Awards and two Latin Grammy Awards

Jason Yeager

Instructor, Piano
jyeager@berklee.edu | 617 747-6347
"It is important for students to really listen to their sound. It’s easy to think, 'I just press a note, and if it is a good piano, it will sound good.' But it’s much more than that. I coach students on their physical approach—the posture and positioning of their hands, arms, legs, where they sit, and so on. I want students to develop a good, personal sound on the piano, staying true to their musical personalities, while avoiding injury and strain."

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