"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."
"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."
“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.”
"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."