Back to Berklee Fall 2020 Bass Department Information

In this video, you'll hear about the Berklee Performance Division's plan to deliver our comprehensive music curriculum in an engaging online environment for fall 2020.

Letter from the Chair

Dear New and Continuing Bass Students, 

One of the hallmark qualities of a great bass player is the ability to adapt on the stage and in the studio. Guitarist out of tune? Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing; we can handle that! Singer goes to the bridge early? Well, You Needn’t worry! We got that, too! Drummer drops a beat? No problem, I Got Rhythm! Even if the bandleader takes a Maiden Voyage with all the money, no need to fret. We can deal! We can also, as bassists, make the worst music puns! 

Sometimes life behaves like a composer and alters the changes, making the song appear impossible to navigate through. This is what the Berklee Bass Department was facing back in March when, in just a couple of weeks, we were forced to transition to a mode of teaching many of us were uncomfortable with (kind of like Locrian). But, we are bassists! We get to the root of all situations! Our department found out right away that great teaching is not conditional on distance and that learning can happen anywhere.  

Like playing music, teaching and learning involve communication and listening. So, we as a faculty immediately decided to overcome the technical challenges by adopting 100 percent USB-interface usage, which simply translates into excellent communication and listening. The result allowed us to continue communicating musically, listening accurately, and educating thoroughly. Although it was challenging, we were able to swing through the remainder of the spring 2020 semester and take Giant Steps through the summer semester and in our many Berklee special programs. Now we realize that it’s not All Blues. We’ve found even more efficient ways to deliver our lessons, labs, and special events. 

Finding our rhythm in this odd time, we quickly learned that there were some benefits to this virtual modality that weren’t as apparent in normal times. Victor Wooten, John Patitucci (our Performance Scholars in Residence), and I were able to convince many of the world’s greatest bassists to Come Together for weekly discussions about music, bass, education, and how we are dealing with life’s often overwhelming challenges. What we realized is that it’s not insurmountable. Being able to groove with the technology has allowed us to connect and learn from each other (regardless of where we are) in more efficient ways than were ever thought possible. Our amazing online student juries and senior recitals have allowed family members and friends to watch live from around the world. We’ve also utilized recording technology and other tools in ways that will enhance our future careers and potentially make us all more employable. 

You’ve had a great head start in the digital world and have been the biggest inspiration for us, as your instructors, to rise to the occasion. No, nothing will replace being together in a classroom, but the current “distancing” situation provides us all with an opportunity to grow in a new way. We at Berklee have discovered that if we have a true desire to educate and students have a true desire to learn, we will not allow anything to stand in our way. Adaptation is the key. At the risk of sounding cliché: Make lemonade out of lemons.  

True, the world has been injured and the current situation is traumatic for all of us, on so many levels. I would never want to diminish that. But if we rise to the challenge, continue to adapt, remain resilient and committed to learning and giving, I believe that we, as musicians, can provide comfort and support to those who are hurting worse than we are, while at the same time realizing that we are also helping ourselves. 

So, Come On, Come Over. Our amazing and diverse faculty is here for you, just a click away, as well as Victor, John, and Assistant Chair Sandro. We have already planned major residencies by many of your (and our) bass heroes, and if you’ve seen any of the dozens of webinars we have offered, you know what that means. 

We’re looking forward to seeing you in the fall.

Steve Bailey
Chair of the Berklee Bass Department

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