Rick McLaughlin

Assistant Professor

"There's a really beautiful universal language in the way that Berklee thinks about harmony. Not every kind of music operates in the same way that we teach the language, but the tools of understanding harmony at Berklee make it possible for a student to say, 'This note in this context is either right or wrong, a good or bad choice.' It gives students the ability to make the transformation from whatever kind of music we're talking about today to whatever kind of music they go on to explore as artists."

"On stage, I'm the bass player, and when I'm with a class, I'm thinking of myself not only as the teacher, but also as the bass player. In class, I'm trying to support and inspire the students, and this mind-set is quite similar to how I approach performing. For example, as a bass player, it's my job to keep everyone together. In that way, I'm connecting with the entire band. When somebody takes a solo, we have a kind of conversation, mutually exploring new musical places. When I transfer these, and other aspects, to class, it means that I'm actively making a connection with each student, and simultaneously connecting with the class as a whole. As a result, we can all exist 'in the moment' and learn as a community."

"A concept that I really believe in comes from Gunther Schuller, and that's the concept of the complete musician. The complete musician is a strong performer who can hear very deeply into the music being made and, by thinking both analytically and historically, can understand the greater context for it. If you add to that the ability to compose and arrange music, perform-gigs, tours, recordings-and of course, teach, then the complete musician becomes someone who has a holistic view of music. I think this is invaluable to the students because it helps them to get beyond the classroom and onto the stage."

Career Highlights

 

  • B.M., M.M., New England Conservatory
  • Bassist
  • Performances with Mahmoud Ahmed, Don Byron, the Either/Orchestra, Mick Goodrick, Steve Lacy, John Medeski, Roger Miller, Antonio Sanchez, and Miguel Zenon
  • Recordings include Study of Light (Rick McLaughlin Trio), A Celebration of the Spirit (Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra), and Mood Music for Time Travelers (Either/Orchestra)