Liberal Arts Faculty

Sheila Katz

Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-8434

"I'm always teaching history in a way that plugs in with questions people need to ask themselves as human beings. It could be issues of heart and mind, how you live between passions and hatreds, and how emotion and rationality fit together. Whether we're reading something from the Hindu Vedas or a narrative of an African slave, the issues they deal with still are relevant. People will quite regularly give me a CD of a song they've created and say they've written it as a direct result of things that we learned in class."

Teodros Kiros

Associate Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-2877

"To musicians who are writers, the kind of practices that we do in the classroom—writing philosophical essays and short stories—emphasize the importance of literacy in writing, and this directly relates itself to musicians, particularly those who write music. And so the students themselves become literate writers. They appreciate literature, they understand it, they can analyze it, can take positions against it and on its behalf, and they, more importantly, may want to write about their own music for newspapers, magazines, websites, and many other venues."

Douglas Kohn

Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-8491

"I look for readings that are interesting both to me and hopefully to my students. I won't use anything in class that I don't think is well written. In the literature classes, I tend to draw from the literary end of popular fiction. I find something contemporary, then make the connection to a classic. So, for example, if I wanted to teach Oedipus I would find a modern version, then go back to the original."

Lori Landay

Professor, Liberal Arts
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online (available courses) | 617 747-2747

"In Language of Film I give students a three-part project. Their first assignment is to write an original screenplay of a scene or short-short film, and write a paper about it. Next they storyboard their screenplay and write a paper about that. In the third assignment, we improvise a scene and shoot some footage, which they edit together on their laptops; then they write a paper about editing. Students learn about how people make choices, and film scoring students gain insight into the directors with whom they have to communicate. It's probably the most exciting thing I've done at Berklee."

Victoria Large

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-6406

"There are some great intersections between music and literature, and the creative process that goes into that. There’s a kind of music to language."

Haidee Lorrey

Associate Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-8306

"In addition to wanting my students to consider things from more than one perspective, I'd like them to take away a real sense of how connected they are. They talk a lot about how hard that can be: how fast-paced things are and how even with technology you can stay connected but you're not in the same room. I think a lot of things they experience at Berklee do let them feel a sense of community—and not just the college community, but also Boston and the much larger global community they're interacting with on a regular basis."

Mike Mason

Assistant Chair, Liberal Arts | 617 747-2991

"I think that the most important aspect of a Berklee student's education is that liberal arts doesn't stand apart from the music curriculum. We infuse the liberal arts with music and music with liberal arts. So, for example, students learn in a history class about where a certain music originated, but they also learn about the social and historical contexts of that place, what was going on, who were the people that lived there, and what influenced the music. Another example might be in a music criticism class, where music is played but students are taught to analyze it through a certain social or political lens. So in class, students are not only using their skills as musicians, but they're also using their skills as writers and critical thinkers as well. We try to combine very different disciplines in a very natural way."

Rekha Menon

Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-2216

"I've always been interested in the interdisciplinary nature of the arts, and at Berklee I have the opportunity to integrate music, dance, and visual art and teach courses such as Indian Art, Music and Dance, Asian Art, and Global Perspectives in Post-Modern Art. Music doesn't stand alone, but works together with visual art and dance, with its emphasis on breaking down the categorical boundaries between 'distinct' art forms. The interdisciplinary nature of my courses gives students the opportunity to see how art history, music, dance, and philosophy are mutually related."

Amy Merrill

Associate Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-2804

"Berklee students are a very diverse group, ranging from students who are very uncomfortable with academic learning to students who really enjoy reading and writing and discussing other things beside music. I've had some wonderful writers. I'm trying to encourage the students to think of themselves as creative learners, with no dichotomy between literature and music."

Gary Miller

Associate Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-8175

"You get students from all over the place. Last year we were talking about Occupied France during the war, Vichy France. Do people collaborate, do they resist? I had a student who was French, and his grandfather faced that very question. As I recall, his grandfather was terrified. Once we were talking about the '20s in Germany, where there was hyperinflation. The government was printing ever-larger denominations, like one trillion marks. A student brought in a whole bunch of this money. We were passing it around and looking at it."

Susanne Moebus-Bergeron

Associate Professor, Liberal Arts
  • M.A., University of Erlangen - Nurnberg
  • A.B.D., Boston University
  • Recipient of Boston University Humanities Scholarship and Kress Foundation Fellowship awards
  • Former faculty member at Boston University and Northeastern University

Sumalee Passaretti

Associate Professor, Liberal Arts

"I have been teaching the Japanese language for more than 10 years. My Berklee students are all really interested in Japanese culture and language. I think most of them want to go to Japan. And another thing is they have Japanese friends here, and they want to be able to communicate to their friends. Every semester I have at least two or three students who have boyfriends or girlfriends who are Japanese. That's the reason they come to the class. They will study for one semester, and then when they have a vacation they will go to Japan and see their girlfriends' and boyfriends' parents. I think it's a good incentive to learn a language!"

C. Pat Pattison

Professor, Liberal Arts
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online (available courses) | 617 747-8308

"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."

Patricia Peknik

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-3101

"I developed the course The History of America's Image in the World because so many of our students travel abroad to play, and work extensively with musicians from other countries. They take pride in American musical traditions, but sometimes have a complicated relationship with American political and social history, and they need to be better-prepared to work in a world in which people have strong negative and strong positive ideas about the nation's history and role. In other words, they need to stop playing gigs abroad and telling people they're from Canada."

Rebecca Perricone

Associate Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-8844

"There's a real interest in musical theater at Berklee. I don't think there's any other college that has nearly 1,000 vocal majors.  Under the initiative of Camille Colatosti, support to provide students with more opportunities to perform in a theatrical setting became a priority. We have established a musical theater minor in the Liberal Arts Department. The student-run Musical Theater Club boasts more than 400 members, and the Liberal Arts Department supports more than six productions a year.

Simone Pilon | 617 747-6329

"I try to have a very open classroom in the sense that I like the students to feel very comfortable to participate. My background is in French, so I want a classroom where students feel very comfortable speaking and realizing that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that’s part of the language learning process. My main goal is to try to have something creative that keeps them engaged and at the same time is organized so that they know what they’re doing and what is expected of them."

Beth Platow

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online (available courses) | 617 747-3113

"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!"

Mark Polanzak

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts

"I'm a founding editor (with writer, Rachel Yoder) of draft: the journal of process. The concept is that we have a published short story by two established writers, and we ask the authors for the first drafts to appear alongside the final pieces. Then we do an interview with the author about the process of creating that early draft and making it into the final story. We have Dave Eggers and Amy Bloom in the next one. The magazine reveals to students that people don't just speak into the printing press. There are about 10 drafts between initial inspiration and what the final published, polished product looks like. That gives students some confidence, because they see that mistakes were made, and the writers worked on it."

Stephanie Reich

Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-6031

"If you've hit the wall on a music project and you feel tapped out, that's a perfect time to pick up your pen and write some prose, even a stream of consciousness, to free you up. When words start to flow, so does the music."

Eric Reuter

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online (available courses) | 617 747-8251

"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."

Julie Rold

Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-8405

"I think writing and music actually have a lot in common: both are auditory arts. I try to get students to see that great prose and poetry is fundamentally about creating great sound. It's through language, but it's still sound. I want my students to be attuned to the musicality of the language, even when they're writing something seemingly straightforward."

Emma Romeu

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts

"Students need Spanish in many senses. They need it to communicate with the public sometimes, because they have many kinds of audiences. They need Spanish to speak with producers who can hire them in other countries, to speak with other musicians. If they have a group and they have a pianist who speaks Spanish, they can make the situation more comfortable for everybody. They need Spanish to sing, too. They ask me a lot of musical terms. All the time I have in mind that they are artists. I don't forget it." 

Wesley Rothman

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-6450

Anthony Scibilia

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online (available courses) | 617 747-6049

"I'm assuming a certain level of dedication and competence and passion on the part of the students, and I'm appreciating that very deeply. When a student has that level of depth in any one area, I find that it's very easy to give them something that isn't in their area and, very quickly, something coagulates. They build a world around it much more easily than if there aren't some simple structures in place. When you've had your own deep experience of something, you're able to say, 'I recognize that. This sounds like something that I know, but it's just being done in visual art instead of music.'"

Matthew Smith

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts | 617 747-6135

"It’s possible to appreciate the scientific side of music without losing your appreciation of the fact that it is a form of expression, that it is an art form. That’s something I try to communicate to my students so they don’t see me as some sort of dry scientist who just wants to reduce everything to a bunch of tedious equations. Mathematics isn’t just numbers and formulae and equations, it’s taking things that you know and trying to use those to find out something that you would like to know but do not currently know. I don’t expect to produce a class of mathematicians, but I at least hope that my students appreciate the greater role of mathematics and the ideas underlying it, not just in music but in the wider world."