Jeri Sykes

Assistant Professor
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617 747-8670

"I joke around a lot. I make the students sing and dance. I think that arranging is funny; for example, if you've got a really great melody, but then you come up underneath it with a bass slap or a cowbell or something like that—if you get lulled into the sense of just enjoying the music and then something suddenly catches you by surprise—that makes me laugh."

"I do a lot of work in musical theater and I worked as a designer for theater as well. I'm very fond of theater music and I play show tunes in class. That kind of music is very highly arranged, and comes in all kinds of styles, so it's great for arranging classes."

"My classes give students the basics, the things you have to know to get in tune. In the core classes, you're learning the basic language that is going to derive everything else you do: how to hear things beyond the surface, the little details of things. We also do a lot of discussing, listening, and talking about what we hear."

"I try to expose students to music that they may not have heard. In an arranging class, students have to write music in a lot of different styles, some of which they don't know. I try to teach them that even if you don't know the style, if you listen to something in the style, you can figure it out. It's just exposing them to a lot of different things."

"As a CWP major, you get to write and do some production in a lot of different situations. You spend some time in the studio; you know how to write music. By the time you've graduated, maybe you've done a little bit of writing for commercials, a little bit of recording for a rock band, and recording for an orchestra. You'll have skills in a lot of different areas and experience in a lot of different practical applications, so it's not all theoretical."

Career Highlights
  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • B.F.A., University of California, Santa Barbara
  • M.F.A., University of California, Davis
  • Reed player: flutes, clarinets, saxophones, oboe
  • Performer in musical theater, jazz bands, and classical ensembles
  • Arranger and performer for the bands Lawsuit and Preoccupied Pipers
  • Recordings include Emergency Third Rail Power Trip (1995), Jokes About the Medical Profession (2003), and The Trout Supershow (2006).
  • Composition, lighting, and sound designer for theater
  • Private teacher of woodwind instruments; faculty member, Brookline Music School