Bill Pierce

Chair

"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."

"My teaching style is very informal. I teach the way I go about music now. When I was younger, I went about things differently. But my approach now is the sum of all the things I've learned. You've got to have fun and enjoy what you do, otherwise there's no point in doing it."

"I really like seeing music being carried on. I really like seeing young people develop, achieve their dreams, and be a part of the history. Many of my students have made a name for themselves: Antonio Hart, Mark Gross, Javon Jackson, Walter Smith, Mark Turner, Miguel Zenon. But a lot of the former students who I consider to be really successful are just good people, good citizens. That's an important part of teaching."

"My goal is to have the department reflect the ideals of the man who founded it, Joe Viola. He was a master teacher. Whatever you wanted to learn he could teach it to you. Beyond that, it's to prepare people to survive in the world of music as it exists today."

Career Highlights

  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Performances and recordings with Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, Art Farmer, James Williams, Hank Jones, Art Blakey, Branford Marsalis, and Wynton Marsalis
  • Featured saxophonist at major international jazz festivals