Strings Faculty

Darol Anger

Associate Professor, Strings
danger@berklee.edu | 617 747-2328

“We have students coming from a classical music background who are interested in playing various vernacular styles—jazz and fiddle music, blues, pop—and then we also have fiddle players who learned by ear or through various traditional routes and who are interested in expanding their theoretical knowledge. That’s two very different approaches, although after a couple of years it all evens out. Usually they wind up expanding their taste buds a little bit, so they’re interested in more styles. There’s a string style for every country, usually four or five.”

 

Jason Anick

Instructor, Strings
janick@berklee.edu | 617 747-6243

"When I teach students jazz I always encourage them to learn from other musicians in their ensembles, or give them suggestions for records to listen to and solos to transcribe, or encourage them to play with different instruments. That's how I learned. That's what worked for me. I try not to overwhelm them with harmonic concepts at first but instead help them build a solid foundation and understanding of what the music is all about."

Mike Block

Associate Professor, Strings
mblock@berklee.edu | 617 747-6355

"One of the things that I’m interested in exploring with my students is the concept and implementation of group practice sessions. Like improvising chord changes, but instead of a backing track, improvising with someone else who is working on bass lines, and combining all the different components of music so that people can practice together and make practicing itself a social experience. There’s a lot of technical practice that you need to learn how to do in order to learn to play an instrument, and when you’re playing, a lot of these styles, you need to learn how to improvise over chord progressions.  There’s a certain abstraction that happens, where you’re not playing any specific piece of music, but you’re practicing something very focused. The musician, student or professional, generally exists by yourself in a room working on something, and I think there are ways to actually get more out of practice sessions in certain contexts if you have somebody to practice with."

Wesley Corbett

Associate Professor, Strings
wcorbett@berklee.edu | 617 747-6136

"I found my way to the banjo completely by accident, through the roots of the banjo. We did an African percussion workshop at a Suzuki workshop that I was at. I started doing that as well as playing piano, and then from that started playing the kora, which is a West African traditional harp. It's basically a grandfather to the banjo. And then I heard Béla Fleck when I was 16 and just went banjo-crazy."

Eugene Friesen

Professor, Strings
efriesen@berklee.edu | 617 747-2155

"String players have a reputation for having a lousy sense of rhythm. But the players I have met at Berklee are different because they love rhythm and are looking for a way to express that. They come here because they love playing rock, jazz, or Celtic music. The orchestra expands their rhythmic palette by exposing them to odd meters and the discipline for playing in a large ensemble."

Maeve Gilchrist

Instructor, Strings
mgilchrist@berklee.edu | 617 747-6371

“In general, the bar is very low for harp playing in contemporary music. It’s perceived as such a pretty instrument—associated with an ethereal, wispy kind of sound—so people are easily impressed. For that reason a lot of players stop at a certain level, or are satisfied with very little. I feel rhythm has a lot to do with that. I don’t want my students to play to low expectations. The contrapuntal, textural, and rhythmic possibilities of the instrument far outweigh its harmonic disadvantages, and it’s important that they are fully explored. I tell my students, ‘Don’t settle for anything less than the absolute best. And don’t be afraid of putting yourself over your head in musical situations. Making mistakes is your path to finding your own voice and your own way of navigating your instrument.’"

Patrice Jackson

Associate Professor, Strings

"I’ve played classical repertoire since I was little. Some think that if you play something often enough, it could become boring or repetitive. But every time I play a concerto, I find something new. And I ask myself, ‘How can I relate to this audience? How can I play this part differently?’ If I do that, then the audience will respond."

 

Sandra Kott

Associate Professor, Strings
skott@berklee.edu | 617 747-2155

"I teach private violin lessons and a performance lab, which is run like a master class. Berklee students don't often have to stand and deliver solo violin music for one another. So in this lab, about every other week, each student is required to perform a solo piece in front of the class, be it a concerto movement, a Bach unaccompanied movement, or an étude. We do a general critique, and I work with the student."

Julianne Lee

Associate Professor, Strings
jlee49@berklee.edu | 617 747-6234
  • Diploma, Conservatoire Superieur de Paris
  • B.M., Curtis Institute
  • M.M., New England Conservatory
  • Plays violin and viola
  • Member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Performances with members of the Guarneri String Quartet, Joseph Silverstein, Australian Chamber Orchestra, and KBS Symphony Orchestra

Felice Pomeranz

Professor, Strings
fpomeranz@berklee.edu | 617 747-2883

"Harp students at Berklee receive traditional training in classical repertoire, études, and exercises. But they also get experience in jazz ensembles, both small and large. They learn how to improvise and make arrangements for the harp. They also learn freelance skills that they can immediately take into the world."

Mimi Rabson

Associate Professor, Strings
mrabson@berklee.edu | 617 747-8323

"Many string players come to Berklee with a strong background in classical music, but few improvisational skills. They read pretty well but interpret everything through a classical music lens. I help them work on the new skills they need to become strong improvisers and to develop a unique musical voice. Playing over changes, as well as hearing and expressing the subtleties that make one genre different from another, are core issues for me."

Simon Shaheen

Professor, Strings
sshaheen@berklee.edu | 617 747-6236

"What I'm bringing to Berklee is my experience as a Western classical musician, Arab traditional musician, and this eclectic fusion of music from around the world, which I grew up with. I speak five languages because I grew up with it; it's not like I learned in later stages. So it's part of me. Berklee is the place where I can bring all this experience, because the idea is not to create compartments of music, but to open the walls and let all these experiences seep into each other."

 

Rob Thomas

Professor, Strings
rthomas@berklee.edu | 617 747-2903

"There is a big, all-inclusive, alternative strings styles movement, and I represent one corner of that movement, which is this idea that we should be able to play, go toe to toe, with any jazz instrumentalist. The violin is a frontline instrument; it can fit right in. The more of us that learn how to do that, the less it's going to be considered a fringe element. Hopefully, what I teach transcends the idea of playing jazz on the violin specifically. To paraphrase something Jean-Luc Ponty said years ago, I've always thought of myself as a jazz musician who plays strings as opposed to a string player who plays jazz. I'm trying to put a universal jazz vocabulary onto string instruments."

David Wallace

Chair, Strings
dwallace1@berklee.edu | 617 747-6925

"Part of the challenge of my job is to make sure that the students have as much freedom as they need to pursue their vision, but also as much structure as they need in order to become technically and musically grounded."

Joe Walsh

Instructor, Strings
jwalsh1@berklee.edu | 617 747-6266

"I was the first mandolin student at Berklee in 2003. There were no mandolin teachers here at the time I applied. But I wanted to come to Berklee to have someone show me all the ways I should be thinking about music—even if I ended up studying with a saxophone teacher. You can learn a lot from any instrument. That attitude is present in the String Department, where you find a mandolin player studying with a fiddle player or a cello player."

Owen Young

Associate Professor, Strings
oyoung@berklee.edu | 617 747-6239
  • Cellist
  • Member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and various chamber music groups
  • Performances with James Taylor and numerous classical and non-classical artists