Ruth Mendelson

Assistant Professor

"All we can really do as teachers is to help our students become life learners. They need factual, tangible knowledge, but the truth is, those facts are probably going to change in a couple of years. It's important to have the confidence and the innate ability to learn, to grow, to adapt, and to change, so I encourage students to be willing to stretch in terms of applying their talents in new and innovative ways."

"There is nothing as gratifying as watching the creative spark flourish in my students. When they work hard, a window opens into a completely different realm of music where they begin to hear things they've never heard before. There is nothing in the world like being in that centered place, where ideas are just ripe for the picking. That's the beauty of trusting—in oneself, in the creative process, and in the music itself. The music is bigger than anybody; our job is to stay out of its way."

"It's important to understand what it is to cultivate the human imagination. Imagination without craft is just entropy. Craft without imagination is just mechanics. To create is to remain open and teachable; it is an act of receiving. If our only references are what we see physically before us, it's not a full picture. Part of what it means to be a visionary is to look beyond that."

"I want my students to learn to trust their intuition. I've gotten all my major breaks by trusting my intuition; plus, life provides a magic of its own. The Amazing Jellies CD came about after I scored the music for a jellyfish exhibit. I only decided to release a CD after getting email requests from all over the world. It's now being used in hospitals, even helping kids in autism clinics. Never in a million years would I have thought that the soundtrack would be used in that way."

"When the universe gives us these assignments, the question is, do we have the courage and vision to follow through? As I was making Well Wishes and Blessings—a CD of kids in the U.S. talking honestly to kids in Iraq, cutting through the war zones—I kept getting told it was impossible. But my intuition told me I had to do it. Now infants are being airlifted out of Baghdad to India for surgery because that CD connected medical communities. That's the magic of life I'm talking about."

"One of the greatest reasons for having talent is to be of service to others, so I want my students to trust their intuition and imagination to come up with ways to make a living within that. Part of creative conviction is to understand: Who are you really? What are you doing on this earth? These are very big questions, but with the privilege of being an artist comes the responsibility to address them. Otherwise, how do you grow into yourself?"

Career Highlights

  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Plays piano, keyboard, bass, drums, guitar, and flute
  • Member of One Human Family gospel choir (OHF)- International, and has been on several internations tours, including stops in Europe, India and Brazil, with them.  The group was invited to OPEN: the United Nations in Geneva Switzerland.
  • Featured multi-instrumentalist on a variety of recordings produced in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Europe and India.
  • New York Times critic's pick for film composer
  • Emmy nominee
  • American Documentary Showcase award winner
  • Grammy listed 2007 for her CD Well Wishes and Blessings (Kids in America to Iraq) in the category Best Spoken Word Album for Children
  • Grammy listed 2006 for her CD Amazing Jellies (Council of the Sea Beings) in the categories Best Instrumental Composition and Best Instrumental Arrangement
  • Composer/producer/arranger/music director for several award-winning film and television productions on HBO, Discovery, Disney, Animal Planet, the Smithsonian, PBS, ABC, NBC, and others
  • Featured bassist on several recordings including “From Exile to Exaltation," winner of the 2006 Independent Music Awards for Best Gospel Song
  • Founder (in partnership with Jane Goodall) of Eagle Vision Initiatives, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the community via the arts