Dean of the Professional Performance Division,
"What makes our faculty distinctive is that they're all professionals—they're all doing what they teach. I think it's rare that you find someone who doesn't have a CD. We make sure that we have role models for different students, different styles. For example, if you look at the Woodwind Department, we have oboe teachers; we have a classical flute teacher as well as a jazz flute teacher. In the Guitar Department, we have rockers as well as jazzers. I think that students who come to Berklee and have a certain style they want to study can usually find a teacher who can help them with that style, who's actually an expert."
"If people want to continue as professional musicians in any way, ear training will be essential for their growth. People who write have to be able to express what they hear in their heads in an efficient way. Sometimes it takes time for students to find out what ear training can do for them and their career. But once they do, they go, 'Oh, wow—this is what I have to do to achieve my goals.' It might be a long road, but I'm hoping that it's a fascinating discovery. I'm still learning myself. I learn as I teach. And I love it."
"There's such a spirit of excitement, enthusiasm, and interest from the students, and it causes you to look very carefully and deeply into what you're doing. And in so doing, you get better at both roles. When I'm teacher, I'm also a recording engineer. I'm not one or the other. I find that those different roles—as an engineer and a mixer and a producer, as well as a teacher—they really feed one another."
"I would love every student inside of Berklee to understand that your music is a part of your business portfolio. You need to learn something about business. You can't leave your careers in the hands of another individual. You've got to have an active and immediate role in understanding the face and future of what you're trying to do. And that's what business teaches you."
"I've learned so much playing with musicians that I admire; just having the experience of playing with them opened my eyes. I think that's an important component of a lesson, so in private lessons we often play duets together. A lot of my students come in wanting to learn contemporary improvisational styles, but I try to enable them to find their own approach instead of trying to force my approach. I want to try to expose the player's own voice if at all possible."
"We want Contemporary Writing and Production graduates to be strong enough to work within any professional environment. We would like them to be able to say 'Yes!' to anyone who wants a project written, arranged, or produced in a contemporary music setting. I try to give students the life skills to allow them to do anything in the music world."
"Most drummers are not involved in the creative songwriting process, and the bottom line is that, by and large, that is where the most significant amount of money is made. If you're one of those drummers who sits in the corner reading magazines and eating pizza while waiting for the rest of the band to get the song together so you can just add your oom-pah, oom-pah-pah to it, you can have a scenario where you'll still be home living with your parents and driving your 15-year-old car with 200,000 miles on it while the main songwriter in the band pulls up to rehearsal in a brand-new Porsche. . . . So I encourage my students to dig down deep and see if they have any kind of creative songwriting abilities. I want them to avoid what I had to live through. It took me a while to say, 'Oh, I get it. Time to come to the party.'"
"The typical bass student at Berklee is very much a novice when it comes to understanding the role of the bassist in a group. Many of them have developed skills, flashy skills, what I like to refer to as 'music store chops.' These musicians sound great in a music store. They do some very fast playing, very exciting stuff that you can actually use at the end of a solo and the crowd will go nuts. But they're spending way too much time on that, and they're not spending enough time on the fundamental maxim of bass, which is: The bass player's role is to keep time and to address the tonality of the moment."
"I teach exactly what happens in the real world, and I'll summarize what's going on in my recording studio that week—the good and the bad. I acquaint students with the business process; how we estimate how long jobs will take, how we do bids, what the competitive market place is like; how we engineer and master audio, what equipment we use. In the summer, I have an associate's program, where I'll hire four or five extra engineers from the student body, or from qualified applicants who send me resumés. I generally hire some of those students after graduation. Out of the six engineers I have working now, five of them are Berklee grads."
"The essence of the Harmony Department is music fundamentals as they play out in notation, chord progression, melody, and bass lines. In any other school, they call it theory. And it is theory, but it's much more practical than an ordinary theory class would be. We teach students to take apart the music they listen to and understand how it's put together. They take the music apart like a watch, see what the pieces are and what they're doing. Hopefully, the students learn from that and use that knowledge to create their own music, a watch of their own—but one that still runs."
"I specialize in contemporary guitar playing. I played in bands from the time I was in eighth grade, and learned a lot just through real-world experience. I was a performance major at Berklee, and when I graduated, I played relentlessly four or five nights a week. It was tough at times, but I was in my early twenties and totally loving life at that point. I never felt I was particularly naturally talented or gifted; I just kind of stuck with it and worked hard. So I think it's not necessarily about natural talent, it's about working hard and having your basics together. If you have a strong foundation, you can pretty much go anywhere from there."
"To walk out of school and have professional opportunities—that's what I want for my students. If I can recommend any of my students for performances I can't accept, then I've succeeded. The students who go above and beyond what is asked of them are the students I end up performing with or who have successful teaching businesses. They're the ones who possess that inspiration to go well beyond what I gave them. In a concert I just did, two of the four other performers were former students of mine, and both of them are successful performers and teachers."
- Alumnus, Berklee College of Music
- Alto saxophonist
- Member of East West Standard Time
- Performances with Gary Burton, Steve Swallow, and JoAnne Brackeen
- Recordings with Gary Burton, Hiromi Uehara, Vinnie Colaiuta, Antonio Sanchez, Victor Mendoza, Michael Brecker, and Jim Kelly
- Major publications include Saxophone Quintet Arrangements for Advance Music and Berklee Practice Method - Alto Sax
"You can know every parameter of every piece of gear that you work with, but if you can't make your time in the studio enjoyable to the artist or make them feel comfortable enough to create, you're not very useful. I tell my students that the job is probably 40 percent knowledge of the gear and how it's used and 60 percent being a psychologist."
"Our curriculum takes what I call the Nautilus approach to songwriting. You isolate the muscle and work on it. Everything about the major, at least at the beginning, is about isolation. The first step is to separate the lyric component from the music component, which isn't to say that we talk about melody without talking about lyric, or lyric without melody, because often you can't separate them . . . Of course, we try not to lose the focus that this is about creativity. We try to emphasize as strongly as possible that all these technical tools we teach are simply in the service of the ideas and emotions that you're trying to convey."
"To me the musician's responsibility is not only to get the sound out of your head and to the instrument, but actually into the mind of the listener—and there are a lot of things between your mind and the listener's. You need to know about sound production on your instrument, getting your sound recorded, and making that sound the best it can be."
"I want students to know that they can sing in a healthy manner in the style of music that they love. It's not like making cookie-cutter singers where everybody has a certain quality of tone or a certain sound to their voice; you can sound like yourself and still use vocal technique. Technique really has to be habituated so that it's almost invisible to the naked eye. That way, you're watching the singer perform, be expressive, and be him- or herself, while technique is the underpinning that's allowing the singer to sing freely, but with good stamina and good intonation."
"At Berklee in general, and in our department especially, we strike the right path between the traditional composition and arranging techniques and the technological aspect of production. We teach the latest technology in terms of production, recording, and sequencing, but we also provide our students with the traditional orchestration techniques for acoustic ensembles, tools that are extremely valuable these days to any professional musician. I always strongly encourage my students to stay updated on new musical trends, new arranging techniques, new styles, and new technologies. Technology should be regarded as a tool to improve the quality of music and to help develop new musical idioms, but it is imperative for the student to sustain a balance that includes strong musicianship"
"I try to relate the class topics to real-life situations, what I had to go through, what I did professionally. This is the project that I want you to do, these are the guidelines. I'm the client, you're the artist. This is your job. You can also do another version of it that's more artistic for yourself, but you need to be able to fulfill the professional aspect of it. When you're out there writing jingles and the client wants it a specific way, you have to do it that way. Or you won't get called again."
"I was on the staff here for 11 years in the Counseling and Advising Center, and I was running a first-year advising program until I left that position to teach. I particularly love working with entering students. They're starting out on this journey that for so many has been a dream since they were children. I'm really fueled by their excitement and their energy. Thinking back to when I was a freshman, I'm really fortunate that I connected with an upper semester student, my roommate, and several faculty members the first few weeks. Coming into an urban setting where there are a lot of like-minded people, but also a lot of competition, and looking for connections, I think it's really a challenge, so I'm trying more than anything to provide connections in our class. I want them to connect to their creativity and their passion, and I want them to connect with each other, and certainly with me. You can come to me and it doesn't have to be about the first draft of your essay!"
"Ear training is not magic. And it's not something you're either born with or not. It's a lot of dedicated hard work, and it takes time. But the value of it is that, like a language, once you own it, you own it."
"Our students run the gamut from a 17-year-old right out of high school who's played in rock bands to someone who already has a master's degree in music and is a tremendous player in one style and comes here to learn another. It's the most extreme place I think that you can teach because of the variety of styles and the variety of students. I had a student who was 65 from Japan who just retired and decided that he wanted to come back to school and learn music."
"Having sung background for many different recording artists, I know how important it is to have your vocal technique together. As a background vocalist, you are basically called upon to become a chameleon. What that means is that you are going to be asked to take your voice out of its natural habitat so to speak. You have to come up with different timbres in your voice to match the other background singers and, in many cases, the lead vocalist. Versatility is an important factor in background singing. It means warming up your voice constantly to maintain the flexibility of your vocal folds as you diversify your singing style of the moment."
"Outside of Berklee, I'm a live engineer and acoustician, and I integrate these experiences into my classes. The reality is that there aren't enough jobs in recording studios. It's a really difficult world. So I try to introduce other possibilities. There are a lot of jobs in audio that aren't 'recording engineer' or 'producer.' And the things that you need to know, or that are useful to know, are very similar for a lot of these various careers—live sound or location recording, or even acoustics to some extent. These other jobs are viable and respectable. I think it's our responsibility to present those as options."
"There are so many people in the world who would love to be here, but can't. So the online school fills that vacuum. I teach a couple sections of the Harmony class online. The students are generally older, quite bright and experienced, but it runs the entire spectrum of beginners who don't know a quarter note from a 25-cent piece to people who are working professional musicians but who never had a lot of the basic foundations of harmony as they were coming up. The online school helps to bridge that gap."