Gail McArthur-Browne

Assistant Professor

"A lot of first-semester students are either away from home for the first time or in a foreign country for the first time, and it's a very daunting place for a lot of them. Some of them feel quite lost and very unsettled. I'm always there to listen, if they need someone to talk to, and I talk about what my experience was like coming from Scotland. I arrived at Logan airport with two suitcases and my saxophone, terrified out of my mind—I didn't know anybody in the whole continent—but then coming up Mass. Ave. in the cab and seeing that sign, Berklee College of Music, that was like winning the lottery."

"I have had a lot of bad experiences as a woman musician, a lot of resistance. Especially older men have a problem with it—they think that because you're a woman you're supposed to be married and having children and you've got no business being on the bandstand. But a lot of time I've found that once they realize that you're really serious about what you do and once they hear you play, then they kind of warm to you. I've had some horrible experiences just because I'm a female, but I've never let it tarnish my picture of other musicians, whether they be male or female. I just try and present myself in the best possible light and work to everyone's strong points."

"I think a lot of the time, especially when you're on stage, there's a double standard. If you're not glamorous, they think there's something wrong with you. If you're too glamorous, they think there's something wrong with you. I played in this band, and they said to me, 'We know you can play, but that's not what you're here for; you're here for the sex appeal. So you have to wear short dresses.' Now that I'm a little bit older I'm not as sensitive, and I just take everything with a bit of a pinch of salt and try to put some humor into the situation and make them see how ridiculous they're being."

"I've never experienced anything like that at Berklee. Not as a student, not as a faculty member, never. Everybody here recognizes that everybody else is here because they want to be a musician. That's something that I think makes Berklee really unique, because in the real world, sure as fate, at some point, you encounter it. Especially coming from Scotland; it's a very macho society. Even when I go home now I still get a lot of it. I just tell them straight out, 'You've got a problem. I'm not the problem; you're the problem.' And they think I'm very Americanized."

Career Highlights

  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Leader of the Gail McArthur Quartet
  • Performances with Don Cherry, Benny Carter, Gerry Mulligan, Grover Washington, Jackie McLean, Ed Jackson, Ian Froman, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Christian McBride, Danny Gottlieb, Mark Soskin, Maria Schneider, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and Vital Information
  • Commissions for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, 1999 and 2001
  • Recipient of awards from the Scottish Arts Council, Arts Trust for Scotland, Scottish International Education Awards, and Cosmopolitan/American Express