Joe Walsh

Instructor
617 747-6266

"I encourage my students to look for music that doesn’t need big words to communicate an emotion. Language is a very strong metaphor for music. Too frequently it can be about putting big words into sentences, whether or not they actually belong there. The best way to communicate is usually a well-constructed simple sentence."

"It is easy to get distracted by whatever is hip, or whatever is the fanciest or the fastest or the most impressive. But I encourage my students to focus on what is emotionally relevant. Whatever sound is catching your ear and really moving you, that’s what you should be chasing. The things most worth working on are things that really stop you in your tracks and force you to listen. Once we’ve identified those things, we can puzzle through them. How are those sounds working, and how can we replicate them? For example, if you hear a certain note used against a certain chord, we’ll try to find out how that works, and see how we can apply it in context whenever that chord comes up in a tune."
 
"I was the first mandolin student at Berklee in 2003. There were no mandolin teachers here at the time I applied. But I wanted to come to Berklee to have someone show me all the ways I should be thinking about music—even if I ended up studying with a saxophone teacher. You can learn a lot from any instrument. That attitude is present in the String Department, where you find a mandolin player studying with a fiddle player or a cello player."
 
"The average student in the String Department comes from a traditional background, say classical or bluegrass or Celtic or old time, but has a wider appetite for understanding music in general and for integrating what they do into a larger picture. I teach mostly mandolin, but I also have students who play other instruments. I try to encourage the most musical application, regardless of instrument or style. I encourage my students to take the music apart and look at it from every angle. Then we come up with exercises and find songs that put us through our paces, to home in on those concepts."
Career Highlights

 

  • B. M., Berklee College of Music
  • Member of the bluegrass band the Gibson Brothers, awarded 2012 Entertainer of the Year, 2012 Gospel Song of the Year, 2011 Album of the Year, and 2010 Song of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association
  • Recordings with the Gibson Brothers (Ring the Bell and Help My Brother), two solo records (Saturday Night Waltz and Sweet Loam), and various recordings with Jonathan Edwards, Joy Kills Sorrow, Scott Nygaard, and others
  • Performances with Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck, John Scofield, Tracy Bohnam, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, and Alison Brown
  • Performances at the Ryman Auditorium, the Kennedy Center, the International Bluegrass Festival in Buhl, Germany; and in Denmark, Ireland, France, and Italy