David Harris

Assistant Professor
617 747-6027

"In my first year of college I failed because I was in the wrong place: I was studying science. I went from dean's list in high school to failing or getting Ds in every single course within six months. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because that was when I realized it wasn't what I wanted to be. From there I went straight into music and I never stopped. In the same way, I want all my students at Berklee to find themselves."

"You need to work very hard to be a successful musician your whole life, but if you really love it, it's hard work that you don't mind doing. And if my students can see that the hard work will help them achieve their goals, that's the beginning of the whole rest of their career. Then they begin to establish the necessary skills and work habits."

"As a working musician, every day I use the same tools that I'm teaching my students, so when I give students information, it's not 'learn this because I say so' but 'here's how you can use it on a gig' and 'here's the craft that you need beyond your art on a daily basis so you can make a lifelong career out of music.'"

"I want my students to understand the necessity to have competent craft beyond their talent. They need to have technical skills beyond just inspiration to be successful, and to have a dogged vision of what it is that they want out of music and pursue it. As a bandleader, who do I hire? Maybe not the most creative person, but someone I know will go out there and aggressively put their mind to what they need to do."

Career Highlights

 

  • Associate professor, New England Conservatory
  • Two-time winner of the Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship for music composition
  • Trombonist and composer/arranger for the avant-garde big band Jazz Composers' Alliance
  • Featured in soundtracks for commercials, as well as Deconstructing HarryStranger Among Us, and The Opposite of Sex
  • Founding trombonist for the Klezmer Conservatory Band 
  • Trombonist/arranger for the traditional klezmer ensemble Shirim, noted for their klezmer versions of The Nutcracker and Peter and the Wolf
  • Founding trombonist with Naftule's Dream, recording three albums
  • Performances around the world, including the Berlin Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Philadelphia Pops, the Smithsonian Institute, and jazz clubs Blue Note, Tonic, and Knitting Factory