Ken Cervenka

Professor

"If you're going to play music, you have to listen to it. If you want to play jazz, you have to listen to other people playing it in your particular style. If you want to play jazz in a '50s style, you're not going to be able to do it if you're reading out of the Real Book. You have to go back and try to absorb that style and the great players."

"I think in early development, because everything is new to them, students want to try as much stuff as they can, so that takes precedence over the listening. In the improvisation class that I do, a lot of my emphasis is on space, which falls right in with the listening aspect of my teaching. So one of the first things that we do in the improv class is an exercise where they have to stop playing, improvise, stop playing, and improvise for different preset lengths of time. That gets them listening. As soon as they stop playing, they have to deal with what they just played."

"I also like to emphasize the basics of trumpeting, an instrument that demands a lot of attention in terms of basic technical, physical abilities. No matter how musical and excited and talented and creative you might be in terms of what you can play, if you can't produce the sound, you're going to be really limited."

"We have a great, diverse faculty teaching brass at Berklee. There's a lot of different people with different ideas to study, and on top of that, Berklee itself has such a wide range of settings in terms of styles and things you can do as a brass player. You can play in a traditional big band; you can play in hip-hop big bands, every type of jazz, every type of ensemble—Latin, Latin funk, brass quintet—whatever you want to do, you can pursue it at Berklee. If you're looking to explore, this is the place to be. You're going to run into so many people and have so many opportunities to play outside of school. It's a real networking place, and in music if you can't get out there and network, you're going to be limited in terms of your success. Berklee's a big school, so you're going to make all kinds of connections."

 

Career Highlights

  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Performances with Jerry Bergonzi, Jaki Byard, Carol Channing, Alan Dawson, Jon Faddis, Mick Goodrick, Fred Hersch, Manhattan Transfer, Bill Pierce, George Russell's Living Time Orchestra, Arturo Sandoval, Mike Stern, the Temptations, James Williams, and Phil Woods
  • Recordings with Oliver Lake, Orange then Blue, and Gunther Schuller
  • Clinics and performances in Costa Rica, Germany, Italy, Japan, Thailand, and the U.S.
  • Double Time Records recording artist