Matt Glaser

Artistic Director
Affiliated Departments
American roots music

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Jazz and bluegrass violinist Matt Glaser served as chair of the Berklee String Department for 28 years. Known as much for his versatility as his virtuosity, Glaser's vast knowledge and experience in music has fueled collaborations with a wide range of artists, from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to filmmaker Ken Burns. He has released two albums as leader of Wayfaring Strangers and has appeared on scores of other recordings, including discs released by his former students such as Tracy Bonham and Alex Hargreaves. His long list of other musical collaborators includes David Grisman, Bob Dylan, and Vassar Clements.

Career Highlights
  • Performances at Carnegie Hall with Stephane Grappelli and Yo-Yo Ma, and at the Boston Globe Jazz Festival with Gunther Schuller
  • Featured on Grammy Award–winning soundtrack for The Civil War and the soundtrack for King of the Gypsies
  • Performances with the New York All-Stars, Bob Dylan, Lee Konitz, David Grisman, and the International String Quartet Congress
  • Author of Jazz Violin and Jazz Chord Studies for Violin
  • Served on the board of advisors for Ken Burns's Jazz documentary and appears as a narrator on the film
  • Taught at the Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camp, the University of Miami, American String Teacher Association conferences, and International Association of Jazz Educators conferences
  • Specializes in helping string players develop improvisational skills in jazz and folk idioms
In Their Own Words

"I like a lot of different styles of music. I think it's because I have a short attention span. So I become at least a dilettante in playing different things. With my group, the Wayfaring Strangers, I just want to play like myself regardless of the style. When I'm playing jazz there is always an element of bluegrass mixed in. And when I'm playing bluegrass, there is always an element of jazz."

"I started out playing old-time country music. I heard that kind of music on a television commercial for corn chips, and I said, 'I want a violin.' My childhood teacher was Paul Ehrlich. I will always aspire to be as good a teacher as he is. The lesson would go on as long as it needed to go on. Afterwards we would go out for ice cream. It was a lived experience. A good teacher can really change the life of a student."

"I'm not the world's most methodical teacher. But I think I make very strong demands on people who study with me. For instance, having people play ideas in all 12 keys. And I expect my students to learn by listening and not just reading. I think it's important for students to have a mental map of music in their mind."

"I'm proud of the fact that I've played with a very wide range of musicians, from Yo-Yo Ma to Bob Dylan to Ralph Stanley. I enjoy finding what's valuable in all these different worlds. I'll always remember playing at Carnegie Hall for Stephane Grappelli's 80th birthday. The encore was 'Tiger Rag,' and I was standing next to Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O'Connor. As we were all bowing at the end, Yo-Yo Ma said, 'I was totally lost.'"