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Educator, composer, arranger, and bassist Jerry Gates has been a music industry professional for over 35 years. His television and radio credits include work for Bank of America, Log Cabin maple syrup, Scope mouthwash, and Marlboro cigarettes as well as music preparation for The Dennis Miller Show, jazz great Bill Holman, and film composers Jack Smalley and Richard Band.
Among Gates's most recent projects, he worked on orchestrating, conducting, and producing a string session for Middle Eastern television series Sultana. He composed the electronic score for a retrospective on Florida's poet laureate, the late Edmund Skellings, entitled "Ed Skellings—In His Own Words." He also composed, directed, and produced music for Nestle's "Wonk Your Room" online promotional campaign. He has written two books: All Twelve—Dodecaphonic Sources for Contemporary Composition and Arranging for Horns.
Gates holds a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music and a Master of Music in composition from the Hartt School. In addition, he graduated from both the television/film scoring and composing/arranging certificate programs at the former Grove School of Music in Los Angeles. Thanks to his years in the industry, he has acquired skills that allow him to work in a number of different capacities, making him valuable to clients and keeping his job challenging as he never knows what role he will work in next.
"l started at Berklee in 1981, was here for a couple of years, went out to Los Angeles for a number of years, then came back. I finally got my undergraduate degree from Berklee in 1997. When I tell my students that, I hope they take it as, 'If I can take that long and still do it, then there's hope for you, too.'"
"I think it's important to give students a concept to explore and get them writing. Period. After a while, your ear and your experience will tell you whether it's right or not. For me, the process is more organic when I'm using a pencil—it's coming out your head, through your arm, out the fingers, through the lead, onto the paper—but that's just the way I learned."
"My students are composing on notation software. There's immediate feedback, of course, from using the computer, but the music's not going to sound that way with live players. That's often eye-opening for students used to hearing their work on the computer. So I tell my students to write every day and find a way to get some players to play it so they'll get to know what their music is really supposed to sound like."
"As a working writer, you have to be versatile in different styles and idioms. If somebody calls you to do a film or jingle, you're not going to say, 'Well, no, I don't really know how to do that.' You take the gig and figure out how, through your training and network, to make it happen. When I first told students about the music videos I was producing for the Wonka.com campaign 'Wonk Your Room,' they were kind of like, 'Who cares?' But when I finally showed them what I'd done and illuminated the process I went through, the ones who turned their noses up at first were the ones to go, 'Wow, that's really cool.'"
"One of my mentors, Jack Smalley, is about 80 and still writing in Los Angeles. He's still studying scores; he hasn't stopped looking for something new to learn. That's the main thing I've taken from him that I try to pass on to my students. It's important to keep searching all your life for new ideas and concepts. The discoveries move you forward to a deeper understanding of the language of music. I'm working on my fourth new course at Berklee in six years, and that's just because I really like to keep learning."
"When you've finished this course I want you to feel more confident about your writing."
"For me, the process of writing is more organic when I'm using a pencil—it's coming out of my head, through my arm, out the fingers, through the lead, onto the paper—it has taken awhile to feel as confident using the computer."
"Over many years I've been able to experience how the process of creating music works - both with a deadline and without. Some experiences haven't changed in one hundred years. But others, particularly with the introduction of technology, seem to change everyday. I bring my experiences, when applicable, into the classroom as often as possible to help illuminate issues that students may be faced with in their own careers."