Berklee Announces New Scholarship in Honor of Phish’s Mike Gordon

Nick Balkin
April 2, 2018
Press release
Mike Gordon at the Red Room at Cafe 939
Mike Gordon with Berklee students at the Red Room at Cafe 939
Left to right: Loudon Stearns, Pat Pattison, Mike Gordon, and Berklee President Roger H. Brown
Mike Gordon at the Red Room at Cafe 939
Image by Dave Green
Image by Dave Green
Image by Dave Green
Image by Dave Green

Berklee announced a new scholarship in honor of Phish cofounder Mike Gordon last Friday when the influential bassist and vocalist dropped by to deliver a seminar for Berklee students, faculty, and staff.

The Mike Gordon Endowed Scholarship will support Berklee students studying bass who are also well-rounded artists, with skills in other areas such as songwriting, production, arranging, or creative entrepreneurship.

"Don’t ever think when playing music," said Gordon, in front of a packed crowd at the Red Room at Cafe 939. “In Phish, we formalized the 'no analyze' rule. In between sets you’re allowed to say 'nice playing'—that's it.”

The seminar covered a wide range of topics, including music as meditation ("We have an exercise where we play the same pattern as long as we can without changing it. You're focusing on your breath. It always leads to a new song idea.") and the secret to Phish's longevity: "It's about being open, being able to say when we don't like something, finding compromise despite the differences. Of course there have been rifts—leading to a whole album named Rift."

The event was moderated by Associate Professor Loudon Stearns, Gordon's longtime friend and teacher who was instrumental in the creation of the REEL, a crowd-surfing keyboard that allows fans to interact with the band at Gordon's live shows.

Other members of Gordon's "cabinet of Berklee teachers" in attendance included Pat Pattison, whom Gordon cited as an influence in his songwriting, and Linda Balliro, his vocal coach over the past five years.