John Stein

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Internationally renowned jazz guitarist John Stein was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, where he took up his instrument at an early age. His talent for and love of music ultimately earned him a faculty position at Berklee College of Music. Stein is an experienced author, recording artist, teacher, and clinician. He has performed as a leader or a sideman with some of the world's finest jazz acts, and his compositions and performances cover the spectrum of jazz styles. A prolific recording artist as a leader (in addition to the contributions he has made to other artists' projects), he has also published educational columns in Just Jazz Guitar magazine for many years, focusing on composition and arranging for jazz guitar. Berklee Press has published Stein's arranging materials in Berklee Jazz Standards for Solo Guitar, and he has compiled the compositional materials into two additional books: Composing Blues for Jazz Performance and Composing Tunes for Jazz Performance.

  • Career Highlights
    • Active professional guitarist, double bassist
    • Band leader, John Stein Trio and Quartet
    • Member of the Ron Gill Quintet and Sextet
    • Performances with David "Fathead" Newman, Larry Goldings, Lou Donaldson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Bill Pierce, and John LaPorta
    • Recordings include Concerto Internacional de Jazz (Whaling City Sound Records), Encounterpoint (Whaling City Sound Records), Hustle Up (Tightly Knit Records), Green Street (A Records), and Portraits and Landscapes (Jardis Records), among others
    • Recent recordings as a leader include Hi Fly, Bing Bang Boom!, Emotion, Color Tones, and Wood and Strings
    • Musical tours in Germany, France, Switzerland, Brazil, and the U.S.
    • Published books include Composing Blues for Jazz Performance, Composing Tunes for Jazz Performance, and Berklee Jazz Standards For Solo Guitar
    • Proficient on guitar, acoustic and electric bass, and drum set
  • Education
    • B.M., Berklee College of Music
    • M.Ed., Harvard University

In Their Own Words

"My teaching style is casual. I'm not a stern taskmaster, but I hold students to a high standard. Students don't come to Berklee to study theory per se. But the music theory that I teach is so directly applicable to every moment of my own music-making that I think if students get bitten by the same bug that I was bitten by, they'll be enthusiastic."

"Music is an interesting thing. Much of music is emotional. It's human expression, and you can't teach that, of course. And you can't teach artistry. You can only teach the craft of music. But the actual material that I teach—the nuts and bolts—is something that, once you internalize it, you can use to create great art. Every moment of my music-making includes the material that I teach. It informs what I do intuitively to a great extent."

"I'm very active professionally. The reason I like teaching is because I get to talk about and share what I know and still learn from the students. I've been at Berklee since 1980, when I was a student. I'm still teaching, talking, and thinking about the same things from the first day I walked in as student. You can't ever use it up; no matter how well you know it, you're still in the process of knowing it better. The better you know it, the more music you can make with it. It's a thrill to me. Every semester I learn something new. Sometimes it's directly from a comment or a question from a student. Sometimes it just comes up in conversation, and I'll make a new connection. And all these years later, that's the reason I'm still here. It's still fascinating."