"Berklee-trained songwriters have a deeper understanding of melody writing, lyric writing, harmony, and arranging than the average 'street' writer, and that's what gives our graduates an edge. And, through classes that offer regular critiques of their work, our students learn how well their songs are communicating and how to deal with criticism-as well as the importance of rewriting."
"A hit song is actually somewhat formulaic--the repetitiveness, the rousing section that leads us to that ever-so-hooky thing that we call a chorus--those things seem to happen over and over in hit songs, whether we like to admit it or not. It's not necessarily a good song from a musical standpoint, one that uses The Chord That Stops The Planet From Rotating On Its Axis; it's not that at all. I think one of the most difficult things to give students a grasp of is an idea of the dire simplicity of most of the music in a song.
"I create an environment in the classroom that is relaxed, fun, and creative because although craft is an intellectual pursuit, creativity needs to run rampant. It’s like a child learning to walk; it needs to have the freedom to try things out, to play and discover itself."
"Our job is to provide a nurturing environment, a creative place where students feel free to express their musical ideas. I think we build confidence, and I think we help students find ways to continue to be creative once they leave Berklee. The muse doesn't always strike. How do you generate that creative idea when you don't have it? I think if you have the tools to generate the ideas, you'll find your muse. If you want fame, that's great; that's the icing on the cake. But you really should be writing songs and making your music because you want to finesse your craft, because you have a message to deliver to the world as a songwriter. And I believe I can show you ways to do that clearly and concisely."
"There are no other songwriting majors in the world. We're the only show in town. If you want to study songwriting full time, you have to come to Berklee College of Music. If anybody else teaches songwriting, they usually teach the business of songwriting, the publishing side. A couple places that I'm aware of have a songwriting course and a course in how to write lyrics. Lyrics are something that most people can relate to because a lot of them have either read or written poetry or short stories. Most of them have written some lyrics before they've come into class. So it's not that big of a leap to become a better lyric writer. But a lot of people don't really know what's going on musically in a song."
"Professional Writing has to do with all the music that is composed. We try to encompass all the styles that are happening today, all the way from contemporary classical to hip-hop. Although we work with older music, our focus is on what's happening now—which keeps us on our toes. There's been a real blending of musical styles, and Berklee is a perfect place to do that because we have so many faculty experts in all these areas."
"I'm kind of a music detective. I'm fascinated with how melody and harmony work together, and I'm really good at explaining that to people, assuming they have an open mind. I can give them a little layering on what's going on with any song, whether it's a Radiohead song or a Beatles song or Jonas Brothers or Amy Winehouse. People tend to view music as big thing that they don't understand, but really it comes down to notes and chords—in terms of making it flow—and that's been going on since Mozart."
"I think I've been fortunate to experience firsthand the unprecedented revolution in recording technology. I still remember walking into a recording studio for the first time and feeling a kind of reverence for the place: the subdued lighting, the noiseless rush of cool air, and the smell of tape stock. I also remember witnessing my first digital recording session and being in awe of this invisible and mind-boggling new way of capturing sound."
"I'm big into collaboration and cowriting. Nashville is a cowriter's town—you write with two, three people all the time—so I really want to have that same kind of environment in the classroom. You cowrite for many reasons. Number one, it's faster. Number two, if you're bankrupt in the idea department, you have another writer or two in the room who has got something to bring to the party. Another reason you do it is a business reason. If three of us create a hit song, we turn our song in to our respective song pluggers or publishers, and we have three times the coverage on Music Row. And the other reason is just because it's fun."