Charles Cassara

Professor
617 747-8137

"I want my students to learn from different people, formulate their own value system, and make something of it with their own style. With a concept like pedal tone, for example, I might start by playing a Duke Ellington piece, but then I'll bring in something by Stravinsky that uses the same technique. The next week I'll do a little bit of George Gershwin, then we'll listen to an Allman Brothers piece. Then students begin to hear it and learn ways that they can play it as a performer and apply it to their writing."

"In my writing classes my students have to not only write tunes, but also write their own arrangements for them. Even students who have never written a tune before, I'll tell them, 'Well, you've got to start at some point, so were going to start now.' So we start out simple, but by the end they write an arrangement, record it, and perform it in class."

"In my methods course it's important for my students to know they can get in front of a group and teach something, whether or not they have electronics in front of them. So one of my exercises is to pull the plug and ask students to teach me something anyway. Technology may be able to make the material more visual and more interesting, or you can gather information quicker—all of that is true—but the basic bottom line is, even without technology, you still have to be able to tell me something about music that I can come away with."

"When my methods students go into their proficiency exams in front of a panel and present a unit lesson plan, if I see that they can communicate, feel comfortable, and look like teachers, then I feel I've been successful. I often hear from them much later when they write, 'At the time I didn't understand it, but I get it now—thank you Mr. C.' Feedback like that is proof, I think, that we're doing something positive."

Career Highlights

 

  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • M.A.T., Connecticut College
  • Performances on radio and television and live with Herb Pomeroy and Charlie Mariano
  • Arranger and director of musicals for Eugene O'Neill Theater
  • Author of Teaching Guide for General Music: Grades 7-12 and articles in music education publications
  • Composer/arranger, Duxbury Jazz Band
  • Music director, South Shore Bay Band, Massachusetts
  • Treasurer, Faculty Federation of Teachers