Jeff Claassen

Assistant Professor
Affiliated Departments
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Career Highlights
  • Trumpet player
  • Member of the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra
  • Performances with Bob Brookmeyer, Paquito D'Rivera, George Russell, Gunther Schuller, and Artie Shaw
  • B.M., California State University
  • M.M., New England Conservatory
  • D.M.A., New England Conservatory
In Their Own Words

"I’m teaching two MAT classes, which are the big four-hour-a-week courses teaching ear training, harmony, arranging, basic writing skills, etc. You can actually look at a piece of music and explain every detail, from bassline writing, drum writing, intervalid structures, open and closed melodies—all that."

"Students deal with these varying perspectives all the time. If you’re looking at a band, you have to communicate and explain to the drummer, ‘I want a rock groove.’ What does that mean? That’s the whole spectrum of what we hear on the radio. To actually know and be able to show him, how can you do that if you’re a trumpet player? Show that I thought about your instrument enough to be able to communicate with you. It’s a very application-oriented approach to harmony."

"If I’m speaking to you, you can write out the sentences. Why can’t you do that when I play music for you? Why can’t you write it out in solfège? Why can’t you play it back to me on your instrument? It’s a language. You speak music, right? Fortunately they’re at Berklee, so they can be immersed in this musical language."

"I’m a composer and a trumpet player. I play a lot around town. My experiences gigging are such a wide range, and I like sharing that with students. Even if it’s talking about playing a gig over the weekend where the music was so horribly notated that I couldn’t read it. I explain, ‘Learn to notate this stuff; otherwise, you’re going to get a horrible performance.’"