Bruce Gertz

Professor
617 747-8190

"When I was taking guitar lessons, I had a good teacher but wasn't making much progress. I wasn't really practicing enough; I wasn't really feeling it. I was hearing a lot of r&b on my parents' radio at the time, and was drawn to the lower frequencies of the Fender bass. When I finally got up the nerve to tell my teacher, it turned out he doubled on bass. He said,'I wish you'd told me about it sooner, and we wouldn't have wasted so much time.' There was a brand-new Fender bass sitting on the shelf of the music store in town, and I dreamed of owning it, but had to prove to my parents that I was worthy of it. So I practiced real hard—and I finally did get it. I eventually became an upright bass player but I never stopped playing bass guitar."

"When I teach, I look for a student's positive strengths and desires, and try to allow the student to expand in that direction rather than impose my own thing. Not everybody at Berklee wants to play jazz, and not everybody wants to improvise. Some want to improvise, but not in jazz styles. So I see what turns on a student and try to find a way to stimulate that. If you try to push something on them, they may just go away and not learn anything. But I do keep the roots of early jazz and blues as a foundation."

"I spend most of the time in each lesson letting the student play. I used to play a lot during lessons to show people how to do something. I admit now that a lot of that was just showing off. Students can be stunned by your playing, and some of them might be stimulated and inspired to practice. But then they can also get frustrated because they know they can't do what you can do, and what they really need is somebody who can help them. So it's better to give students more attention on what they're doing, to listen to them and make comments—and then maybe pick up the instrument to show them something."

"Probably the most important thing I want my students to take away is a really strong self-image as a musician. And after that I want them to experience the utmost joy in their musical growth and pursuit through their life, because music is a lifetime pursuit."

 
Career Highlights
  • Diploma, Berklee College of Music
  • Advanced improvisation study with Charles Banacos
  • Performances with Bob Berg, George Cables, Billy Eckstine, Gil Evans, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Frisell, Tom Harrell, John Hendricks, Joe Lovano, Diane Schuur, Mike Stern, and others
  • Recordings with John Abercrombie, Bruce Barth, Jerry Bergonzi, Joey Calderazzo, Miles Donahue, Mick Goodrick, Adam Nussbaum, Kenny Werner, and others
  • Author of Walkin' and 22 Contemporary Melodic Studies for Bass
  • Recipient of National Endowment for the Arts jazz performance grant
  • Four-time nominee of the Boston Music Awards Outstanding Bassist and three-time nominee for Best Independent Jazz CD
  • Winner in the Billboard Song Contest and nominated for Best Jazz Act and Best CD in the Boston Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll
  • Recipient of Jazz Composition Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • Author of Mastering the Bass, Mel Bay Publications