Ron Reid

Associate Professor

"I encourage all my students—particularly the arranging students—to experience as much live music as possible. It's really not only about what you can achieve with your computer and your sequencer. You have to go listen to bands, talk to musicians, ask them a lot of questions, become friends with them. Music is about experiencing it—getting to know people personally and learning how they develop their individual sounds."

"I try to encourage originality and individual creativity within the parameters of the course objectives. I tell students, 'Wherever you envision you need to be professionally, there are no shortcuts. Some of this information we're dealing with now, even though you may not think you need it, you will use later on. At some point it's going to kick in, and you'll be glad to have it.' I use my own personal experience to make this point."

"From early on, I knew I was going to be a professional musician, but had no formal instruction except for a few years of piano. After high school I worked as a librarian, then left that to become a professional musician. Then I realized I needed to further my education, but there were no schools for music in Trinidad, so I came to Berklee. At first my goals were to be a good writer and jazz bass player. But once I moved here, I reflected on the rich cultural environment I grew up in, and felt a need to celebrate those traditions I had taken for granted."

"A lot of students come to my steelpan lab or ensemble thinking it is going to be easy. It is 'easy' in that you can learn to play credibly fairly soon if you're already a musician. But it does take some work and patience. There are a lot of nuances to playing the steel drum. You need to memorize where the notes are, since they're not in a sequential order, and learn how to use the mallets to acquire a good tone. And there is so much to learn about blending the intricate parts. Steel drum ensemble playing is like playing African drums. You've got all these interlocking rhythms, and every rhythm is essential to the overall groove."

Career Highlights

  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • M.A., Tufts University
  • Bassist and percussionist
  • Founder/arranger for Sunsteel, Caribbean pan jazz sextet
  • Founder, Mud Hut Records
  • Musical director of three theater productions for the Trinidad Theatre Workshop
  • Compositions for Trinidad Television and the Banyan Television Workshop
  • Performances with Antonio Hart; Lenora Helm; David Williams's J'Ouvert; Kalabash; Carmen Lundy; Othello Molineaux; Reid, Wright and B’Happy; and Randy Weston