"Most of my students are not performance majors, so I see them coming from all fields of study at Berklee, such as MP&E and music therapy. I focus on sound bassoon technique, great tone production, and the ability to sight read well, because you're only as good as your sight reading! I try to develop critical listeners, so that whatever field in which they end up, they still know what a good sound is."
"Playing with Art Blakey's and Tony Williams's bands, I really felt a part of a jazz lineage. And I was able to play with them long enough to be part of a living, growing organism. Over a period of time playing with the same people, the music morphs into something more than the composer may have intended. It develops into more than the sum of its parts. Because of that experience, I can convey to students the significance of a group concept, a band concept. Music is a source of communication between people, regardless of whether you want to be a star or not."
"Berklee's phenomenal for a few reasons. One, at no other school are you going to get this choice of teachers. Two, students are always jamming, in ensembles and after-school sessions, because there are so many students here. And three, the theory and ear training here is really applicable, whereas at a normal college, the program is classical theory. While it's great background, it doesn't really apply. Here you learn it on your horn and you can use it immediately, and that's a good thing."
"I tell students to try to have a long-range goal of five years, a shorter-range goal of a year, and then we start breaking it down to what we want to do by next week. And of course, what are we going to do today? Then we can jot down some short notes, and look at it every few weeks and evaluate. The plan can always be altered over time. I always tell them that if they more than double their age, I'm still older than they are, so they have so much time on this planet! Don't worry about the time pressure. Things need to cook at their own rate. As long as you're enjoying the moment—that's it, stop there. Have a generalized plan, but you can reevaluate at any point. Take the pressure off. Enjoy what you're doing."
"I teach private instruction for saxophone, focusing on getting a good sound, reading, and improvisation. Sometimes a lesson turns out to be more like a counseling session. Students are always going through stress, family problems, anxiety, etc. So we just talk. . . . I try to be a good listener. One problem some individuals have is how to use their time wisely in order to accomplish their goals/dreams. A suggestion I've given is to write down on a piece of paper a plan for the week, month, or semester. I think this is very helpful for kids who are scattered or lack discipline. I tell them that I have to make choices every day, too. It's all about priorities in one's life and making good choices."
"Performers have to wed the physical to the emotional and the creative. Poor posture can lead to injury, so I try to work on helping students get their bodies into a relaxed but aware position. I study the Alexander Technique, which is a way to align the body and work on breathing. But the most important thing for me is that my students keep their love of music, and that they’ll have the tools to impart that to other people. I also hope they develop ways to become their own teachers. That’s what we’re all striving for—to become our own teachers."
"I feel that the school environment should be opening students to try different things. Then they gather what works well for them, and ultimately it creates their own voice. I try to be very open and all-inclusive, and I also try to approach a particular topic in a bunch of different ways: visually, aurally, and kinesthetically. Since a lot of woodwind students are classically trained, I want them to have the freedom to be able to explore and try new things, to free the mind from negative self-talk and just go ahead, dive in, and take a chance and explore. When you're in school, it's the time for exploration, for seeing what's out there rather than being close minded. So I do teach classical students, but I also teach people who are interested in branching out in other types of improvisation."
"The possibilities for the oboist at Berklee are endless. My students tend to be more open-minded to the possibilities. They are not afraid to experiment with different repertoire, or to think 'outside of the Bachs.' They can study and transcribe works by jazz oboists such as Paul McCandless, Jean-Luc Fillon, and Nancy Rumbel. This variety keeps both myself and my students open-minded and willing to explore all musical genres."
"Years of performing have taught me a lot about what it takes to prepare and practice for a successful performance. That includes everything from dealing with bizarre sound systems to understanding how to blend with players I've never played with before. In addition to practicing, hands-on experience (on-the-job-training) is the only way to develop as a musician and to ultimately arrive at the consistency we all strive for."
"A good saxophonist, first and foremost, has to have a tremendous sound. Without a great sound, there is only noise. Secondarily, he or she needs a strong command of the instrument. The saxophone is a great instrument for demonstrating speed and dexterity. The saxophone is also one of the most expressive instruments. It probably resembles the human voice most closely in flexibility and nuance, as well as the personality of the sound. Every saxophonist has a personal sound."