Scene at Berklee: Jeff Coffin

The saxophonist for Dave Matthews Band shared practical tips on gigging, getting paid, and building relationships. 

February 20, 2020

Scene at Berklee presents snapshots and stories from the hundreds of clinics, workshops, performances, and other events that take place in our community year-round.

Jeff Coffin knows a thing or two about staying power: he spent 14 years as the saxophonist for Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, and this year marks his 12th with Dave Matthews Band. In addition, he’s released 15 solo albums, fronted several groups, and self-published two books, including his latest, The Road Book. This week on campus, Coffin broke down some of his advice (musical and otherwise), covering topics such as getting paid, creating (legible) charts, and getting hired—and rehired—for gigs. 

“A gig needs to provide two out of three things: great music, great money, or a great hang,” Coffin told students, urging them to ask for details about every potential show before committing themselves to play. He also emphasized the human side of being a musician: showing up on time, pitching in to load and unload the van, and treating people with professional courtesy and respect.

“Your playing may get you hired the first time, but those other aspects will determine whether you get the gig again,” Coffin told students. “Relationships are so important.” 

Learn more: Berklee's Woodwind Department offers a range of training and performance opportunities. 

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