- M.F.A., University of Pittsburgh
- Published in local and national newspapers and magazines
"I think the faculty at Berklee are very engaged individually with the students, because a lot of what the students do is more creative, more individualized. I think people are more receptive to letting the students be a little freer. I have them do a presentation using visuals, or videos and visuals. They will often incorporate music into the presentations. They get very, very creative."
"You can't know where you're going unless you know where you are, and where you came from. When you put those three things together, you have the best formula for making a successful impact on your craft and on the world of music. When students start to sense all the connections, you can see the 'aha experience' in the eyes. It's in the questions they ask, it's in their performances. It's a spirit."
"I realize that most students are not here because they want to take a science class, so I want them to see that what we're talking about in class is absolutely relevant to their everyday lives, whether or not they think of those things as science, per se. Whatever's on the news, we'll be talking about it in class. Somewhere over 4 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan. They're not getting food; they're not getting water supplies that are safe to drink. That starts a lot of political unrest, and that's all related to the environment. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico absolutely has relevance in terms of seafood supplies, economic impact to the United States, etc. Hopefully we can tie all of those in and see why they should care about those things."
"I can bring to students a long life of experience of rejection and failure and success as completely interconnected pieces of a puzzle to show them that everything they're doing—conversations they're having with their friends, experiences they're having on break, meals they're having with people, strangers they meet—can inform their creativity."
"I incorporate music into my Spanish classes. Each student brings in music twice per semester and talks about the music and the artist. My intermediate students write a music review in Spanish; and I use a lot of musical examples in grammar lessons. I try to present music as an aspect of culture, because there is so much Latin music. The music in Cuba is very different from the music in Argentina, which is very different from the music in Colombia. Students get to truly understand the diversity of the Spanish-speaking world through the lens of music."
"Especially with first-year students, a lot of what I'm doing in addition to teaching English is introducing them to college, to a different way of thinking and interacting with others. I have a background in ESL, as well as literature. This background has led me to approach language—in academic essays, in literature, in speaking—as a means of communicating."
"The trick is to present the material in a way that is unique to Berklee. There might be classes with similar names at other institutions, but they're going to be nothing at all like what students are going to get here, because pretty much every problem in math involves music in some way. We calculate the frequencies of notes under various tuning systems, looking at the math behind it. In economics and statistics, most of the articles we read are related to the music industry."
“As a historian, I try to get students to use primary sources. I encourage discussion and debate in the classroom, but I also try to keep it lighthearted and make students feel comfortable in discussing issues.”
"Art history is a required course at Berklee, and it's just human nature for students—who are here to study music—to wonder how it's relevant to them. But within a week or two they start to realize that at the core of it, what all these people were doing—whether thousands of years ago or just last week—is exactly what they're doing now: figuring out how to channel their passion and curiosity into creating something."
"My class in interdisciplinary arts is about the big picture: how all the arts are expressions of our human experience on earth. Understanding visual art, dance, and poetry—and incorporating aspects of them—enables our music to reach new levels of communication and expression."
"A lot of what I teach is related to unlearning some of the blocks to creativity that are taught in primary and high school education. All of my writing classes start with a free write, and we free write every class for up to 30 minutes. In doing that at the same time, over weeks, on the same days, students practice accessing their unconscious, quieting that editorial voice in their heads, and it separates the writing process from the editing process. Students have told me that that has a significant impact, for example, on their songwriting, that they’re able to be creative without editing themselves more often and more freely."
"I hope that students are able to apply these lessons to future tasks without my guidance. I make connections to real-life writing that students will need to do for their careers, such as cover letters, reports, scholarship applications, and press kit materials. They need to see that writing a good essay is really the same as writing a good cover letter."
"Given the competitive nature of the music industry, students need to speak and write articulately. Writing about literature and drama helps them with their lyric writing and their ability to promote themselves as music professionals. Thinking critically about other art forms teaches them to connect with others and to discover and express new ideas."
Vice President for Academic Affairs-Curriculum and Program Innovation,
"My teaching style has always been one that encourages self-reflection and discovery. I like to push my students to be self-motivated. For me, it isn't about the grades they will receive, but rather the knowledge and skill set they can build on."
"I'm teaching a Topics in History class called the American Music Industry. The course provides an overview of music business practices here in the United States, beginning with sheet music publishing and piano manufacturing in the 19th century. We then explore the birth of the recording industry in the 1880s and 1890s, the impact of film and radio on the music industry of the 1920s and 1930s, and the emergence of new recording techniques and new marketing practices in the post-World War II era. By focusing on these major paradigm shifts, students leave the class with a better sense of what's happening right now in the music industry, as digital distribution is changing the way we consume music. Students also develop a clearer sense of how popular music reflects the time period in which it's written, whether we're talking about pro-Union Civil War songs or early Delta blues recordings."
"I find that this age group really identifies with their own coming of age, so I focus on that kind of literature and get them thinking about all the different ways we come of age—those pivotal moments in our lives when we move in new or unexpected directions. What they read is a mixture of nonfiction and fiction; what they write is nonfiction. Personal narrative is one of the pieces that they do, but I also have them write about the literature they are reading. We often discuss songs and lyrics and consider ways to use these as source material."
"We live in a world that, within specific disciplines, demands a complex set of skills. Musicians need a skill set that is broad to perform at the highest level in a complex world. Having a broad view with a 'lens' that understands the connections between the liberal arts, music, writing, art, theater, and dance is important. The more connections one can make to 'the muses,' the more informed one's own particular chosen art will be, in my opinion. Studying the liberal arts makes artists better artists."
"My role as teacher is to be a facilitator. I don't lecture; I don't like it, and I can't imagine my students would like it, either. My role is also to create a safe environment for my students to take risks, open up, share their ideas, and believe that what they have to say is worthy. To start a discussion I'll show them something as a catalyst, maybe lead them off with a word or two, then say, 'Here you go; wrestle with it,' and sit back and watch. And that's really how it should be."
"I try to foster a sense of honesty, tolerance, passion, and social responsibility in my students. Stressing the development of critical and creative thinking skills, I encourage clarity, precision, and originality of thought in writing and speech; the ability to ask relevant questions and solve problems; an openness to new ideas and experiences; and a flexibility of mind that allows one to view topics from multiple perspectives and see connections. I continually emphasize a respect for individual and cultural diversity and encourage students from different countries to interact with, and learn from, each other. I try to help my students view the world with compassion, fight injustice whenever possible, and heed the words of the great writer and social activist James Baldwin: 'Artists are here to disturb the peace.'"
- M.A., Dance and Cultural Studies, UCLA
- B.F.A., Theater Studies, Boston University
- Performances with Alicia Keys, Mos Def, John Legend, Reggie Gibson, Joshua Bennett, and Donna De Lory
- Recordings include HBO's Def Poetry season 5 and Ever Widening Circles
- Published in the Legendary, Numinous Magazine, and the Charles River Review
- Participant in Slam Team San Jose 2004 and Boston Cantab Slam Team 2005
"What it means to be a good musician is more than technical proficiency. One of the things I think we can really offer is time to reflect and work through what it might mean to be a musician in contemporary society. Not all of us talk about music in our classes, and that's because a lot of what it means to be a good musician goes beyond music: it has to do with what it means to be a thinking person. I'd like to think of what we do not as a supplement, but as something that can really add to the ability of our students to think about where they can go as musicians."
"In addition to poetry and literature from around the world, I teach nonsense literature. This might sound strange. It's not something students would see in a typical college lit. class, but I suppose mine are not typical college lit. classes. Behind the fun and craziness of literary nonsense is a rigorous sense of aesthetics and a bedrock of intelligent and constructive rebellion—a way of questioning the status quo and an outlet for individual, creative thought. What better education for a Berklee student, or anyone for that matter?"
"I rely on a combination of whole-class and small-group instruction. I create a space for guided and independent practice. I emphasize the close reading of primary and secondary texts as well as note-taking and analytical writing."
"I find Berklee students to be very generous readers since they see writers as fellow artists. My background in poetry writing helps me bring creativity into the courses I teach."