Piano Faculty

Ross Ramsay

Associate Professor, Piano
Also affiliated with:: Berklee Online (available courses)
rramsay@berklee.edu | 617 747-2824

"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."

Tim Ray

Associate Professor, Piano
tray@berklee.edu | 617 747-6028

"One of the things I try to communicate to my students is the idea that when you're in school, you try to absorb as much as you can in terms of music and styles and just open yourself up to as broad a spectrum as you can. Because you never know when an opportunity will come along that's going to take your career in a different direction. That's what happened to me. When I was in college, I thought, 'I'll just be a jazz piano player,' and then all these other things came up. The next thing I know, I'm doing all these great things, traveling all over the world, playing with all these incredible musicians, but not necessarily playing jazz all the time. So I try to open myself up to all these different opportunities."

Josh Rosen

Professor, Piano
jrosen@berklee.edu | 617 747-8196

"I encourage all my piano students to improvise, no matter what their style is. I want my students to develop an awareness and openness to different approaches, gain a better sense of what they want to express and how to do it, and develop 'bigger ears.' It's really important to get back to the essence of listening; it's the number one thing I stress as a player. Good dynamics, expression, and interaction all follow from that."

Marc Rossi

Professor, Piano
mrossi@berklee.edu | 617 747-8339

"Learning how to learn is very important: learning how to practice, how to be creative, how to organize ideas, how to finish things, how to get from point A to point B, how to take responsibility, and how to be aware of what you're doing. I also want to disabuse students of the notion that it's just about winning or losing. It's about doing something well and the pursuit of excellence."

Suzanna Sifter

Professor, Piano
ssifter@berklee.edu | 617 747-8353

"My teaching style is individually based on each student's particular musical needs rather than a one-size-fits-all teaching style. I listen to the student play, and assess his or her musical needs on various levels. Then we set goals at the beginning of the semester and follow through by checking in with those goals throughout the semester. It's really individualized. I think this interpersonal style, which includes talking and getting to know the person as well as the musician, can lead to greater exploration along the path of musical self discovery."

Francesca Tanksley

Associate Professor, Piano
ftanksley@berklee.edu | 617 747-3103

"Respecting the person, the unique direction in which [students] want to go, and their all-around potential, are most important. In this atmosphere, students find a safe environment in which to further explore their own musical voice, while continuing to hone their technique. And the result, they tell me, is real interest and dedication."

Bruce Thomas

Professor, Piano
bthomas@berklee.edu | 617 747-8380

"I've always thought of myself as a composer who plays rather than a player who writes. So my approach to improvising—both doing it and teaching it—is more like composing on the fly, instead of learning a lot of licks and trying to string them together. That never worked for me. Whenever I learned licks I would always spend more time trying to figure out how to cram them in where they didn't really work rather than paying attention to what improvisation is all about: trying to create the best melodies you can."

Stephany Tiernan

Chair, Piano
stiernan@berklee.edu | 617 747-2108

"Good pianists know how to make the instrument sing—to make the piano an extension of themselves. They have a technique that allows them to freely explore the full breadth of expressive devices available to them on a grand piano: dynamics, pedaling, articulation, tempo, phrasing, etc. They also must have a musical imagination, so that they can interpret, improvise, and shape music in a creative way."

Greg Wardson

Associate Professor, Piano
gwardson@berklee.edu | 617 747-8396

"I hope to give students a greater understanding for what it will take for them to be better musicians and people than they were before. I like to see myself as a person who helps to show direction. To me, that's what it's all about. I think the lion's share of anything you have to do to be to be a good musician comes from oneself, but it does help to have somebody to say: 'Why don't you look over in that direction?' It's our job to show people paths that are important."

Bob Winter

Professor, Piano
bwinter@berklee.edu | 617 747-8226
  • B.M., Boston University
  • Extensive experience in clubs, television, radio, and theaters, including performances with Henry Mancini, Teddy Wilson, Buddy DeFranco, Mel Torme, Luciano Pavarotti, Eddie Daniels, Stan Getz, Cleo Laine/John Dankworth, and Airto Moreira
  • Pianist for the Boston Pops Orchestra under John Williams and Keith Lockhart
  • Recordings with the Boston Pops Orchestra and in solo, duo, and quartet settings

Chihiro Yamanaka

Assistant Professor, Piano
cyamanaka@berklee.edu | 617 747-6511

Jason Yeager

Instructor, Piano
jyeager@berklee.edu | 617 747-6347
"It is important for students to really listen to their sound. It’s easy to think, 'I just press a note, and if it is a good piano, it will sound good.' But it’s much more than that. I coach students on their physical approach—the posture and positioning of their hands, arms, legs, where they sit, and so on. I want students to develop a good, personal sound on the piano, staying true to their musical personalities, while avoiding injury and strain."