"We try to broaden the students' experience as much as possible. The work they may do on an alternative record, or a country record, or a jazz record, may support them later on when they're doing urban pop, just for ideas. Some of the more creative guys out there have a pretty good musical base. They've worked in a lot of arenas. They know not only how to get good vocals out of people, but also what works for the song. This is what's going to separate them from the kid down the street with the laptop and the beatboxes, who's got his stuff all over the Internet."
"There's such a spirit of excitement, enthusiasm, and interest from the students, and it causes you to look very carefully and deeply into what you're doing. And in so doing, you get better at both roles. When I'm teacher, I'm also a recording engineer. I'm not one or the other. I find that those different roles—as an engineer and a mixer and a producer, as well as a teacher—they really feed one another."
"The foundation of the MP&E program at Berklee is musical as opposed to technical. The focus first and foremost is the song and the production. The knob twisting and button pushing is always contextualized. Most of our engineering classes serve production classes. Students in the production classes 'hire' engineers from the engineering classes. It mimics the real world in that way."
"You can know every parameter of every piece of gear that you work with, but if you can't make your time in the studio enjoyable to the artist or make them feel comfortable enough to create, you're not very useful. I tell my students that the job is probably 40 percent knowledge of the gear and how it's used and 60 percent being a psychologist."
"From the production side, it's easy to lose sight of that ultimate goal by getting 'lost in the toys.' Obviously when you're in school it's important to try out a lot of different techniques, and to get facile with the tools. But ultimately we want to make the technology disappear—to be in service of the process and the creative moment. We're trying to get out of the way, to be masters of the tools and not slaves to them.
"I think there's no higher use of our musical talents than the opportunity to reach somebody across the bridge of pathology; to reach an Alzheimer's patient, to shape the life of a person with autism, to reach somebody who is afraid or in pain. . . . To be able to reach a fetus who's still in the womb is a tremendous example of the power of music. It's a higher purpose for our music-making than necessarily just gigs. I mean, I've been to concerts that have changed my life, concerts that have enriched my life tremendously. But to really be able to know how to wield and use that power for the higher good of humanity is a tremendous opportunity for us all."
"Not everyone is structured to be a professional musician, but there are a lot of other careers that you can get involved with in music. There's business, recording, and teaching, and you can still play locally in all kinds of groups and get your musical satisfaction. So be open to those possibilities. It's a tough world out there, and there are a lot of people who don't make it at that level, but you can still continue to enjoy music, to contribute, and to pass it on to the next generation."
"A good producer needs perspective above all else. You need to be clear about what you've been hired for, what the artist's real goals are, what is possible and what is not within the confines of budget, ability, time, and personalities. And you need to be able to step back and know when to stop."
"If a course is working, my students are going to learn more about how their brains work, their instincts, their strengths, what's compelling to them, and what they gravitate towards. Students are required to articulate their goals and plans, then critique their own and each other's work. It sounds easy enough, but is often quite a challenge. Trying to describe what we're doing and why, and attempting to understand other students' motivations, often reveals biases and discontinuities in our own perspectives and assumptions. 'Why?' is often the hardest question."