Bill Scism

Professor

"As a composer, you have to be disciplined. To learn self-discipline is extremely important for the composer. You have to have a lot of perseverance. You have to really love what you're doing."

"Jazz composition is a very intense major. The work is time consuming. But the discipline that the students get out of it is so valuable, and the portfolio that they put together is almost equivalent to a master's portfolio."

"Nobody goes and applauds the writer. Maybe occasionally at a concert, the writer gets the attention, but most of the time, people applaud the performers. As a performer you get instant gratification, but as a writer you have to really enjoy what you're doing. The balance of that has to overshadow that kind of instant gratification."

"All musicians and music students, I think they all have at least a little fear, or shyness. I've been doing this since I was 8 years old, and I'm 61 now, and still, when I walk on stage, I get a little nervous, a little adrenaline. If I lost that, I'd have to stop."

"After I graduated from Berklee in 1969, I was in the service for three years. I became the staff arranger for an army band, and I started writing more and more. I was the band leader, so I encouraged other people to write, even if they had never written before in their lives. And we played anything that they wrote. Because of that, I had to keep ahead of them."

"Similarly, teaching at Berklee keeps me thinking. I challenge my students and they challenge me all the time. It's a two-way dialogue. I learn things from them and they learn things from me. That keeps me going; I have to keep improving. I can't just walk in and teach what I was teaching 20 years ago."

Career Highlights

  

  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Performances with Carol Channing, Roomful of Blues, Freddie Scott, New Jersey State Orchestra, and numerous theater orchestras
  • Recordings with Swallow and More Orphan Than Not for Warner Brothers
  • Principal arranger, U.S. Army Band, Fort Monmouth
  • Leader, Jazz Ensemble, U.S. Army Band, Fort Monmouth
  • Guest soloist with Living Colour