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"I came to Berklee as a drummer, and I remember making the switch to vibes. I saw Gary Burton play with the Mike Gibbs Big Band. He took a few choruses solo and the crowd went nuts. I'd never seen vibes before, and I thought, 'I'd like to try that.' I had Gary for beginning mallet lab. He showed us how to hold the mallet, he gave us some theory, and we started improvising. And that was a beginning that opened up a whole new world for me in terms of melody and harmony."
"I learned a lot playing with Herb Pomeroy, too. While we were on the bandstand, he would tell stories and his philosophy of teaching and playing. I always think about Herb when I'm teaching, and even when I'm playing. His teaching style was passionate and emotional and constructive; he would always use positive reinforcement. I take the same approach."
"I play a lot with my students in classes, ensembles, and private lessons. Playing in that context is like a conversation; it's like we're always talking musically, which is a blast. I learn from my students as they're learning from me. They're young and intense in their desire to learn, so from them I learn how to be disciplined and keep that hungry desire. My students, who come from all over the world, also bring in so many styles—Latin, jazz, folk, rock—so I keep myself open. And with the internet so global, everything crosses over."
"You know, they didn't have YouTube when I was studying. It's unbelievable; if you want to see Miles Davis playing, or John Coltrane, you just go to YouTube, plug in the name, and you come up with all these videos. It's instant. So the students' playing level is just getting better and better, and I have to stay on my toes to keep up with them, which is why I keep playing and learning."
"There are always new things to learn about improvisation, and whatever I learn, I pass on to my students. Improvisation to me is like living. We all improvise every day, and it's an art; it's being open to all the possibilities, to be able to make quick decisions and do something on the spur of the moment. We do that in choices we make every day."