Harmony Faculty

Mike Scott

Professor, Harmony
mscott@berklee.edu | 617 747-2412

"To show my students a practical use for this, I give the example of a singer I occasionally back up on piano at Sunday brunches. She's 50 years old, and at 9:00 a.m. her voice is a whole step lower than it will be an hour later. I have to play all of her tunes a whole step lower. If I didn't have the ability to think in representational terms, instead of literally, it would be very difficult to do."

Helen Sherrah-Davies

Assistant Professor, Harmony

"One of the best classes I ever took here was with Mitch Halpins, his Nonstylistic Improvisation Concepts Ensemble, which was just incredible. It takes the stylistic thing away, so you are sort of stripped down to who you are or what you can offer. You have to be fully present to the other people who are there with you, to enter into this sacred space which has never come before and will never come again. It's just such an amazing concept, but you must be willing to really open yourself up to that, to receive and not just transmit only."

William Silvio

Associate Professor, Harmony
wsilvio@berklee.edu | 617 747-8206

"One of the things I try to do is make a somewhat complicated subject seem easy. I think a lot of students tend to get intimidated in theory-type classes. In some ways, it can be mechanical and abstract, and I try to bring that musical element into the classroom so they can see the relevance of what they're studying. Another thing I try to do in the classroom is get the students to have some fun. There's no reason that music theory has to be a drag. We can learn and have fun at the same time."

Daniel Ian Smith

Associate Professor, Harmony
dsmith@berklee.edu | 617 747-8274

"Given all the constructs we have to deliver, it would be easy to walk into class and throw a list up on the board. But I'd rather start with a piece of music and ask, 'What colors do you see? When you hear this section, what does it feel like?' I want to start with that tangible connection and then say, 'Okay, now let's look at the chords, or the relationship between the melody and the harmony.'

John Stein

Associate Professor, Harmony
jstein@berklee.edu | 617 747-8130

"Music is an interesting thing. Much of music is emotional. It's human expression, and you can't teach that, of course. And you can't teach artistry. You can only teach the craft of music. But the actual material that I teach—the nuts and bolts—is something that, once you internalize it, you can use it to create great art with. Every moment of my music-making includes the material that I teach. It informs what I do intuitively to a great extent."

Vessela Stoyanova

Assistant Professor, Harmony
vstoyanova@berklee.edu | 617 747-6343

"I look at theory as a tool to enrich creativity. It is a language to communicate with other musicians, using the most common terms. When I teach, I try to give students all the proper grammar and correct spelling. But they must use these tools to express themselves in their own way. If they don’t have anything interesting to say, the class is useless."

Omar Thomas

Assistant Professor, Harmony
othomas@berklee.edu | 617 747-2740

"I use music to teach music. Music theory can be very daunting and frightening to look at, but what it represents is something that is so universal. I'm really about getting past the scary terms, symbols, dots, and lines and getting to what they represent. I'm a huge advocate of talking about not how music sounds but how it feels, to instantly make that connection."

Michael Wartofsky

Professor, Harmony
mwartofsky@berklee.edu | 617 747-8495

"I'd say one of the main functions of the Harmony Department is to ensure a certain level of musicianship among Berklee grads. And then, on a deeper level, it gives us the tools we need to be better writers, arrangers, and performers. I studied at Berklee for a year after already having an undergrad music degree. One year of Berklee, and especially Berklee harmony, changed the way I compose and changed the way I think about music. This system is unique to our school, and we're very fortunate to have it passed down to us. It seemed a lot more practical than the music theory I had studied previously.

Mark Zaleski

Assistant Professor, Harmony
mzaleski@berklee.edu | 617 747-6188

"Most of the time people are coming to music school to study because they have something to offer from day one that's really awesome. They just may not know how to label that, they may not know how to tell (someone). I want them to have the tools to communicate with other musicians."