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"My father was a surf rocker and always played guitar around the house, so I got exposed to that early on. But I started playing with the Commodore 64 before I started playing guitar, so by that standard the computer is my ‘principal instrument.’ What attracted me to the computer was the fact that you could always find new sounds, whereas other instruments have a more confined spectrum.
"I treat my students as professionals from day one, and expect them to recognize their own success. I present challenges in such a way as to help them achieve what they didn’t think they could, and have to find a constant balance between making sure they grasp the technical aspects and encouraging their creative abilities. I want my students to understand that a good sound designer, like a good painter, has the talent to see the world in a special way, break it down, then recreate it.
"I tell my students to treat the computer as an instrument—they don’t have to choose between music or technology. And I recommend that they at least learn how to hold down a drumbeat and how to sing a little. It just helps them communicate better with other musicians.
"When I worked with Pat Metheny on the Orchestrion—basically an all-robot band—at one point we had just gotten over a couple of electronic hurdles, he grasped what I was trying to explain, and he started playing. I thought, ‘Wow, he’s pretty good,’ before I caught myself and remembered who he was. I do the same thing with students. They’ve spent years learning their musical craft, then come to me not knowing much about how to use the computer. When they finally gain the ability to use the technology, and I hear their projects, I’m almost always surprised at how incredibly musical they are. Then I’m reminded: of course—they’re Berklee students! That’s something I really enjoy, when my students’ ability to produce and record themselves starts to catch up with their musical ability.