Mike Scott

Professor
617 747-2412

"I have students analyzing tunes, and of course, sometimes they find it a little dry; they're using a series of symbols to describe the sound and flow of the harmony. One practical use of this is that it enables you to play the harmony in any key. The symbols are neutral; they represent the sound, they're not key-specific."

"To show my students a practical use for this, I give the example of a singer I occasionally back up on piano at Sunday brunches. She's 50 years old, and at 9:00 a.m. her voice is a whole step lower than it will be an hour later. I have to play all of her tunes a whole step lower. If I didn't have the ability to think in representational terms, instead of literally, it would be very difficult to do."

"I have two goals for my students. One is to deliver the course material, to help them internalize it and understand it and be ready to move on to the next level. My second but equally important goal is to try to get their ears involved in the process. It's not just theory; it's sound. We're talking about the theory of sound and we need to hear the sound to understand the theory. To that end, I play all my classroom examples on the piano. They're equal goals: to try to get the students to understand the material, but also to understand the sound of the material."

"The great joy for me, and for any teacher, really, is seeing students develop and succeed. Nothing pleases me more than to receive a call or email from a student four of five years after they've left school, telling me how useful the harmonic concepts I taught them have turned out to be. Just knowing that they internalized that material and are still growing and getting better is the biggest kick a teacher can have."

Career Highlights

 

  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Undergraduate studies in music education at the University of Missouri
  • Graduate studies in creative writing at Harvard University
  • Saxophonist and pianist
  • Performances with Les Elgart, the Four Freshmen, the New England Jazz Quartet, and own group on radio and television
  • Tours with the U.S. Army Band
  • Recipient, Midwestern Collegiate Jazz Festival Composer/Arranger Award
  • President of the Berklee Faculty Union since 1985