Bruce Saunders

Bruce Saunders is a professor in the Guitar Department at Berklee College of Music. With New York City as his base since 1988, he has toured Europe, South America, Australia, Japan, and the United States as a band leader and as a sideman. He has recorded with musicians such as Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine, Dave Holland, Kenny Werner, Bill Stewart, Michael Cain, Glen Velez, Harvie Swartz, David Berkman, Tony Scherr, Mark Murphy, Ben Monder, Steve Cardenas, and many others. He has released four albums as a leader: Fragment, Likely Story, Jazz Hymns, and Forget Everything.

Saunders has taught at Berklee since 1992. He has also taught at New York University and various clinics worldwide, including the International Jazz Seminar in Xalapa, Mexico, numerous times in Colombia, South America, and at the Maine Jazz Camp. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Classical Guitar and Theory from Florida State University, and a Master of Music in Jazz Performance from the University of North Texas, where he studied with Jack Petersen and Tom Johnson. He is the author of Pentatonics, Modern Blues, and Melodic Improvisation.

  • Career Highlights
    • Appeared on recordings with Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine, Ben Monder, Dave Holland, Michael Cain, Bill Stewart, Kenny Werner, and many others
    • Author of Pentatonics, Modern Blues, and Melodic Improvisation
    • Released four albums as a leader: Fragment, Likely Story, Jazz Hymns, and Forget Everything
  • Education
    • B.M., Florida State University
    • M.M., University of North Texas

In Their Own Words

"I teach private lessons—for the most part to students who want to learn how to play over chord changes—improvisation classes, and Guitarmony, a class based on Bret Wilmott's great book Mel Bay's Complete Book of Harmony, Theory, and Voicings. I also teach a few classes that I developed: a Joe Henderson Ensemble, an Odd Meter class, and a Peter Bernstein/Kurt Rosenwinkel styles and analysis class."

"In my classes and private lessons I always try to point out the importance of playing with other people, as opposed to (or in addition to) locking yourself away in the practice room. There are psychological aspects of playing music with other people that one can only develop through personal musical interaction. For this reason, I try to play with students as much as I can in all my classes and especially in private lessons. There is so much we can learn about ourselves and others by playing together."

"The number one reason to study guitar at Berklee would be the faculty. Other than that, the facilities are just amazing, as are the resources like the library, and certainly the number one resource is your fellow students. I try to tell my students, 'All these talented students that you see at Berklee could at some point be planning a tour and need someone like you to complete the band. That could be your chance to play, make a little money, and (even better) make some music. You will also make more connections for more playing opportunities down the line.' But in the end, the number one reason to go to Berklee is the faculty, and not merely the guitar faculty. There are many, many great teachers college-wide, and I'm very proud to be a part of this group."