"I take a very technical approach. You must know your notes and tonalities, and not play by ear. One thing that I really emphasize is to be able to use restraint, texture, and balance in your approach, in your 'deceptive inserts' and other things which require a lot of technical knowledge. A lot of students can come in and just move their fingers around, but when they play a ballad, where does it come from? Where's the restraint? Of course you're not going to be playing a ton of technical things in a beautiful ballad that should be really heard soulfully."
"If you're going to play free, it's up to you. You got it. I'm not going to yell directions to the ensemble or the soloists as they play. You got it. If the music stops and you're flailing, that's your problem. It's up to you to pick it up and make it happen. That happens to everyone; the music comes to a settling point and now it's up to someone to pick the ball up and go with it."
"Some students may know a great deal about harmony and be adept at hearing and identifying chords, yet they cannot read a note of music. Some are great performers and can sing with great persuasion, yet they can't read a note. For these students, formal ear training at Berklee introduces them to general facts and musical situations they've never encountered before. It helps them understand the make-up of music's mathematical systems, like note values and time durations, as well as the whole idea of connecting rhythms and melodies to make up a complete musical thought or phrase."
"Times have changed a lot, and the music industry has changed a lot, but if you're a really well-rounded player, the industry and the times can continue to change as much as they want to; you'll be fine. My personal musical passion is within the jazz idiom, be it mainstream or straight-ahead; however, being well rounded and versatile is what allows me to play a rap gig with a back-beat track and smoke it. The skills are always applicable."
"Playing with Art Blakey's and Tony Williams's bands, I really felt a part of a jazz lineage. And I was able to play with them long enough to be part of a living, growing organism. Over a period of time playing with the same people, the music morphs into something more than the composer may have intended. It develops into more than the sum of its parts. Because of that experience, I can convey to students the significance of a group concept, a band concept. Music is a source of communication between people, regardless of whether you want to be a star or not."
"Most of my students are not performance majors, so I see them coming from all fields of study at Berklee, such as MP&E and music therapy. I focus on sound bassoon technique, great tone production, and the ability to sight read well, because you're only as good as your sight reading! I try to develop critical listeners, so that whatever field in which they end up, they still know what a good sound is."
"Berklee's phenomenal for a few reasons. One, at no other school are you going to get this choice of teachers. Two, students are always jamming, in ensembles and after-school sessions, because there are so many students here. And three, the theory and ear training here is really applicable, whereas at a normal college, the program is classical theory. While it's great background, it doesn't really apply. Here you learn it on your horn and you can use it immediately, and that's a good thing."
"I teach private instruction for saxophone, focusing on getting a good sound, reading, and improvisation. Sometimes a lesson turns out to be more like a counseling session. Students are always going through stress, family problems, anxiety, etc. So we just talk. . . . I try to be a good listener. One problem some individuals have is how to use their time wisely in order to accomplish their goals/dreams. A suggestion I've given is to write down on a piece of paper a plan for the week, month, or semester. I think this is very helpful for kids who are scattered or lack discipline. I tell them that I have to make choices every day, too. It's all about priorities in one's life and making good choices."
"I tell students to try to have a long-range goal of five years, a shorter-range goal of a year, and then we start breaking it down to what we want to do by next week. And of course, what are we going to do today? Then we can jot down some short notes, and look at it every few weeks and evaluate. The plan can always be altered over time. I always tell them that if they more than double their age, I'm still older than they are, so they have so much time on this planet! Don't worry about the time pressure. Things need to cook at their own rate. As long as you're enjoying the moment—that's it, stop there. Have a generalized plan, but you can reevaluate at any point. Take the pressure off. Enjoy what you're doing."