Suzanne Dean

Associate Professor
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"I started playing guitar by ear and singing at the age of 10. I began jazz piano studies in 1974 after someone gave me a Bill Evans album. This led, in 1979, to my first major musical inspiration, when I met and talked with the great pianist and composer at the Village Vanguard. He didn't know me but said he'd like to get together and listen to my music sometime. Just having an idol show a sincere interest in your talent is enough to keep you going for quite a while. My advice to students: be brave and go up and say hello."

"A lot of the music that I wrote at Berklee as student projects in the '80s ended up on my solo albums. Many times I have told my students that if you put a lot into your time at Berklee, you can get a lot out of it. It's a great place to begin working on your dreams."

"I remember walking down Boylston Street when I was in school thinking, 'Boy, wouldn't it be great to have Peter Erskine play my music.' When I was putting my music together for my albums, as result of good timing and good connections, I was lucky enough to get musicians like Peter Erskine, John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, and a host of L.A.'s top session players. I can't compare anything to this incredible experience."

"When you are in the process of creating music, it's always so great to feel the obsession and the passion that comes from within. But when it's all done and out there, if you manage to reach into the hearts and souls of other people, people you don't know—from all over the world, no less—this is one of the ultimate gifts."

Career Highlights

  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • A.A., University of Maine, Augusta
  • Studies at Denison University, New England School of Photography, Sundance Institute Film Scoring Workshop, and California State University, Northridge
  • Former leader of the Suzanne Dean Jazz quartet
  • Recordings include Dreams Come True and I Wonder (Nova Records)
  • Orchestrator/composer's assistant for the TV show Jake and the Fat Man
  • String arrangement on Pat Coil's release Departures
  • Author and teacher of Arranging 1 for Berklee Online