Songwriting Faculty

Jon Aldrich

Associate Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-8101

"A hit song is actually somewhat formulaic--the repetitiveness, the rousing section that leads us to that ever-so-hooky thing that we call a chorus--those things seem to happen over and over in hit songs, whether we like to admit it or not. It's not necessarily a good song from a musical standpoint, one that uses The Chord That Stops The Planet From Rotating On Its Axis; it's not that at all. I think one of the most difficult things to give students a grasp of is an idea of the dire simplicity of most of the music in a song.

Erin Barra

Associate Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-6913

"My teaching style is engaging. I like to make things fun and get everyone involved in the learning experience. One of my top priorities is making sure I give my students everything I can to prepare them for working in the current state of the music industry. I want students to leave my class feeling like they've learned useful new skills, which they are inspired to use in their writing and creative process."

Sarah Brindell

Associate Professor, Songwriting
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online (available courses) | 617 747-2745

"I tell my entry-level students in Contemporary Writing and Production that we'll progress very quickly from 'this is a quarter note' to composing an entire score. I encourage students to bring in the music they love, and we learn how to write it. I have a really eclectic international mix of students with lots of different musical tastes and backgrounds. That's one of my favorite things about the class—it's really fun to delve into so many different styles of music."

Ben Camp

Assistant Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-6883

“Each student has unique needs in order to wrap their minds around fresh new concepts. My job is to find out what those needs are and meet them for each and every student. I would like my students to come away with competence, confidence, and a lifelong desire to explore and learn new musical ideas on their own terms.”

Daniel Cantor

Assistant Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-6235

"I love working with all kinds of technology and all kinds of instruments. New engineers, producers, songwriters are too easily enamored with thinking one tool is superior to another. What's more important is finding how each tool can be valuable in your bag of tricks. It matters not what technology you use or whether you use technology at all. All that matters is that you arrive at a recording that has the sonic and emotional impact that enhances the song."

Susan Kean Cattaneo

Associate Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-8125

"Our job is to provide a nurturing environment, a creative place where students feel free to express their musical ideas. I think we build confidence, and I think we help students find ways to continue to be creative once they leave Berklee. The muse doesn't always strike. How do you generate that creative idea when you don't have it? I think if you have the tools to generate the ideas, you'll find your muse. If you want fame, that's great; that's the icing on the cake. But you really should be writing songs and making your music because you want to finesse your craft, because you have a message to deliver to the world as a songwriter. And I believe I can show you ways to do that clearly and concisely."

Kara DioGuardi

Herb Alpert Visiting Scholar, Songwriting

Brian "Raydar" Ellis

Assistant Professor, Songwriting
Also affiliated with: Ensemble | 617 747-2845

"My whole goal with Hip-Hop Ensemble is to blur the line. Right now, the perception of hip-hop is a standoff. It really comes down to a debate over what a musician is. Some people think pushing buttons isn't being a musician, it's production. But there's validity in the music I'm making. I'll have students playing samples live, like an instrument, as if they were playing a piano. For me, a rapper with a DJ is not any different from someone singing and someone else playing a guitar. It's voice and an instrument."

Melissa Ferrick

Associate Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-6975

"I feel like there is a huge population of original singer-songwriters at this school, who are playing guitar and playing piano and writing songs, who are here on scholarships for violin and voice, who are extraordinary musicians, and they don’t know what to do. They want to do their own music, but they haven’t figured out what department they fit in. I want to make sure that there’s a place for that in the Songwriting Department. It’s the only place in the world that you can get a degree in songwriting. And I want to make sure that the next 17-year-old girl who doesn't know who she is yet and is terrified and is writing these songs in her bedroom, saving her own life, has a place she can go where someone’s going to say, this is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. And you’re great. Yes, play that song live for us."

Brad Hatfield

Associate Professor, Songwriting
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online (available courses) | 617 747-8043

"I do my best to help students identify their strengths then challenge themselves to work outside their comfort zone and collaborate. I have found a team-oriented approach to be a fast track to sustained success in the field of songwriting for film and TV."

Bonnie Hayes | 617 747-6311

“We want to make successful songwriters and successful musicians, but the soul of it is in the connection to others and the good it does in the world. Music makes communities stronger and it makes people soulful, which is what we want.”

Jimmy Kachulis

Professor, Songwriting
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online (available courses) | 617 747-8240

"There are no other songwriting majors in the world. We're the only show in town. If you want to study songwriting full time, you have to come to Berklee College of Music. If anybody else teaches songwriting, they usually teach the business of songwriting, the publishing side. A couple places that I'm aware of have a songwriting course and a course in how to write lyrics. Lyrics are something that most people can relate to because a lot of them have either read or written poetry or short stories. Most of them have written some lyrics before they've come into class. So it's not that big of a leap to become a better lyric writer. But a lot of people don't really know what's going on musically in a song."

Scarlet Keys

Associate Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-8455

"I create an environment in the classroom that is relaxed, fun, and creative because although craft is an intellectual pursuit, creativity needs to run rampant. It’s like a child learning to walk; it needs to have the freedom to try things out, to play and discover itself."

Jack Perricone

Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-2385

"Berklee-trained songwriters have a deeper understanding of melody writing, lyric writing, harmony, and arranging than the average 'street' writer, and that's what gives our graduates an edge. And, through classes that offer regular critiques of their work, our students learn how well their songs are communicating and how to deal with criticism-as well as the importance of rewriting."

Ivan Sever

Associate Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-2393

"I think I've been fortunate to experience firsthand the unprecedented revolution in recording technology. I still remember walking into a recording studio for the first time and feeling a kind of reverence for the place: the subdued lighting, the noiseless rush of cool air, and the smell of tape stock. I also remember witnessing my first digital recording session and being in awe of this invisible and mind-boggling new way of capturing sound."

Mark Simos

Associate Professor, Songwriting | 617 747-3129

"I don't stand in front of the class dissecting students' songs. That style of critique reinforces the false notion that there is just one way of writing a good song, oriented towards following mainstream conventions. What about the song that's going to come along every once in a while—like John Hartford's Gentle On My Mind—that breaks every single rule and is a brilliant song?"