"Music is a reflection of all cultures. Berklee is a place for those cultures to coexist, mix, and blend together. Therefore, it was imperative for me, as chair of the Percussion Department, to organize a multicultural faculty, a stylistically diverse music curriculum, and an environment where all these elements could function in a positive atmosphere. I believe the diversity that we have in our department is the element that actually holds it together. The Percussion Department faculty have great respect for each other and recognize each other's strengths. We all literally 'feed' off of each other."
"My teaching style comes from life experience. The number one aspect of playing music is feel and time. You have to have great feel and great time; great touch, finesse, and interpretation. And you have to have good hands to impact what you do on a kit. So I make sure that their hands are cool. I'm not saying you have to have hands like Buddy Rich, but you have to have good enough technique to able to play a great beat. When you get out there in real world, it's nothing about chops. What gets you the gig is feel and time. It's how comfortable can you make this music sound and feel."
"It goes together—African drumming and dance. You don’t count the steps. It’s a whole different way of communication. We have a lead drummer who will give you a signal, which lets the dancers know when to start the steps, and I can give them a signal that tells them to change it to speed up, to stop it. There are hundreds of rhythms, and each one is unique, each one is done for something different, because each one has a different break to tell the drummer when to start and stop and when to start again."
"Practicing is a disciplined study of ideas and information. Hopefully, this new information will reach deep parts of your mind and body and will eventually become a part of you. If you try to remember what it was like when you learned to walk and speak, you will acquire a more accepting and patient outlook toward yourself as you approach learning new material."
"I don't teach a standard drum lesson with books and exercises. I use a very conceptual approach: Open up your ears, listen to yourself play every single note, and be responsible for those notes so you can make mentalversus physical or technicalchanges to your playing. If you play something you don't like, you can identify it and delete it from your playing. If it's something you do like, you can expand on that."
"I began in 1962 as a self-taught rock drummer. I played for 10 years professionally before I began to study formally with Alan Dawson at the ripe old age of 22. I've played with everything from rock bands, trios, and big bands to symphony orchestras. Many of our students can relate to this experience of being self-taught and having gaps in their ability. I hope by my example they can see how one can maximize their opportunities to survive in the music business by studying and working hard."
"I work with my students to think musically, not just think about playing the exact notes or the exact time. Whatever you're laying down as the primary timekeeper, to make the time and the musical sense correct, it needs to have a musical purpose. When I teach a student to play a Bach piano piece on a marimba, for example, I first get them through the notes—to know how to read the music and use their hands mechanically. Then I ask them to play it musically—to make it breathe so it's not just notes and mechanics. I want my students to be aware of their dynamics, their musical presence, and the texture of what's going on around them."
"Growing up in Argentina after the dictatorship, there were not many resources in schools. I had some really good teachers, but music education was very sloppy. That turned out to be a positive, since I had to teach myself a lot of things I'd missed, espectially when I started teaching myself the vibraphone. That process has given me the sensitivity to see my students' missing links. I'm very sensitive to those things because they were in me at one point or another."