Russell Hoffmann

Associate Professor
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617 747-8432

"Playing the piano has got such a physical component to it. Understanding the gestures, the body motion, the language of each style—then incorporating an intellectual knowledge of the music along with the sound—it all works together. There’s no substitute for just getting in there, experiencing it, and playing, playing, playing."

"Whatever musical discipline my students are involved in, it’s important to me that they understand it’s going to demand a commitment toward expressing what they think is valuable about themselves. It takes some examination, and a lot of craft and dedication. There are always going to be setbacks, but then affirmation if you’re persistent and consistent in that commitment."

"When I was in college I had a couple of different piano teachers, but the one I really soared with was someone who acknowledged to me that I had a special gift for the piano. And that really did it—I took it from there. That’s something I try to share with my students: that they’ve got something special and that I believe in them."

"Recently I had a student who was really struggling with her rhythmic time feel and confidence. As I worked through it with her, she was finally able to get outside herself and discover, with focused observation and practice, that she had a good sound and good rhythm—and that kind of realization is always nice to see."

"After many years I’m still like a little kid when I write or do something new in my music—I get really excited about it. And that discovery is lifelong. I want my students to know that they have a lot to look forward to."

Career Highlights

 

  • B.M., University of Texas at Arlington
  • M.Ed., Cambridge College
  • Toured as musical director for Concord recording artist Marlena Shaw and the University of Minnesota's “Twelve Moods for Jazz” Langston Hughes project
  • Performed with Robben Ford, Donald Harrison, Billy Hart, Peter Lietch, Jack McDuff, James Moody, Rufus Reid, Joe Zawinul, and many of Boston and Minneapolis/St. Paul’s finest jazz artists
  • Compositions and arrangements performed internationally by the Berklee American Songbook Orchestra, the Boston Pops, Craig Ball and the White Heat Swing Orchestra, and the Tony Lada Quartet
  • Clinician at Berklee in Umbria, Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia, Italy; the Pan School, Tokyo, Japan; Seoul Jazz Academy; Fermata Mexico City; Berklee in Taipei; BIN School, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the Berklee High School Jazz Festival
  • Featured on many recordings, with the Berklee Great American Songbook Orchestra, Mel Gordon, Tedi Marsh, Steve Rochinski, Jan Shapiro, Bob Stoloff, and the Tony Lada/Larry Monroe Sextet
  • Author of Keyboard Comping and Ensemble Performance and The Berklee Practice Method for Piano