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An assistant professor in Berklee's Harmony Department since 1997, Alizon Lissance is a well-rounded musician with decades of experience as a multikeyboard player, vocalist, songwriter, and arranger. She has earned regional and national accolades, ranging from critical acclaim in Musician Magazine to receiving a Boston Music Award as Outstanding Keyboardist in 1991.
In 2005, Lissance released the CD So What About You, an eclectic collection of original material. She is a founding member of the Love Dogs, an established jump/swing R&B band that has released four CDs and has toured in North America and Europe since 1994. She also keeps busy with freelance recording and performing engagements.
As an alumna and faculty member of Berklee, Lissance is thrilled to be a part of the extension school providing the "Berklee Experience" to people who might not otherwise have that opportunity.
"I want my students to leave my classes with a heightened awareness of the inner workings of music, an embracing of the left-brain stuff, a desire to explore harmony and color. For the writers, it's a no-brainer. There are a lot more singers here at Berklee now, and I really encourage them to play the piano. I hope my students come away with an openness to use the tools that we give them in their own writing and arranging."
"Everything's laid out on the piano—it's visual. It's the only instrument that shows all the sharps and flats and everything. It's all right there and you can play the chords and scales. Even if you're not really good you can still play them and hear them and reinforce that. You can sing along with your playing."
"I gig a lot, and I often work with singers, with people who don't have the harmonic background that I have. It helps me with my teaching in terms of translating difficulties that can be found when you don't play a chord instrument. I give everyone in my class at least one transposing assignment per semester, where they have to transpose something into another key. That's something that singers get stuck with all the time."
"I don't play straight-ahead jazz a lot, but because of the stuff that I teach, when I do I can look at a lead sheet and sometimes say, 'That chord doesn't fit there.' I can look at something and know without even hearing it first, when it would be too late."