Dick Lowell

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"For me the most important thing I want my composition students to take away with them is the limitless possibilities for them. To that end, I strongly encourage them to do a lot of diverse listening. And when they do that, they can't believe what's out there, the endless—and mind-boggling—possibilities. Then it's my job to channel this newfound energy. I say, 'You don't have to think about the entire musical universe right now. Let's figure out what it is you want to say and how you want to say it, and what you can use to make your piece be the way you want it.' That's another whole set of problems, but it's a good problem to have."

"I always tell students—because I feel very strongly about this—'You have to understand that the music you've just written never existed until you put it down on paper.' I say, 'This music that I'm looking at right now is brand new, an infant that's just been born, and it belongs to you.' That really blows them away, and they get very excited about that."

"Music is a strange paradox, because on one side of the equation is pure raw mathematics: intervals and numbers. On the other side is the intangible stuff that lives inside you. And somehow these two things pull together. I say to my students, 'You have to wade through the nuts and bolts, and the mathematics of it, because it will be very rewarding when you hear your music played back.'"

"You can write very easily just with mathematics. So I want to make sure that when my students put together the nut and bolts, the music is not just about numbers, not contrived, but something they really believe in. When they show me a piece of music, the very first thing that I say—I don't look at it right away—is, 'Explain to me what you want this piece to say, then explain to me how you did it.' Then I look at it, and between the two of us we'll reinforce what they've done."

Career Highlights


  • Diploma, Berklee College of Music
  • Performances with Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dionne Warwick, Lou Rawls, the Pointer Sisters, and others
  • Compositions for Buddy Rich, Dave Stall, and others
  • Compositions and arrangement featured on A Beautiful Friendship CD by Rebecca Parris and the Ken Hadley Big Band
  • Arrangements for My Kind of Broadway CD by Dick Johnson
  • Composition "Gravity" featured on the Berklee 50th anniversary CD