Mimi Rabson

Affiliated Departments

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Career Highlights
  • Violinist and violist
  • Composer
  • Leader of RESQ, Really Eclectic String Quartet
  • Member of the Jane Gang, XLCR, and Kaleidescope
  • Recorded and toured with Itzhak Perlman’s klezmer project
  • Released solo CD Music
  • Performed on Late Night with David Letterman; music featured on Saturday Night Live
  • Recipient of a first-prize fellowship in composition from the Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • Specializes in teaching improvisational skills in jazz, rock, world music, and other contemporary idioms, as well as technology and recording techniques for strings
In Their Own Words

"Many string players come to Berklee with a strong background in classical music, but few improvisational skills. They read pretty well but interpret everything through a classical music lens. I help them work on the new skills they need to become strong improvisers and to develop a unique musical voice. Playing over changes, as well as hearing and expressing the subtleties that make one genre different from another, are core issues for me."

"I ask my students to do a lot of transcriptions. We analyze the concepts used by the soloists and the composers. Then I make the students work on their own solos using those concepts. They often say to me, 'You mean I have to think about what I'm playing?' I know we're making good progress when I hear that."

"In my chamber music ensemble, the students bring in the repertoire and we work on arrangements. They are asked to bring in tunes that don't feature string instruments, so they learn to develop parts for things like bass lines, drum grooves, guitar solos, and vocal parts. In doing so, they learn a lot about how to articulate, phrase, solo, and arrange outside the classical mold."

"Personally, my tastes are pretty diverse. Over the course of my career, I've played a lot of different styles. What intrigues me now is learning how to blend these styles compositionally, to make a unique statement."

"I love working at Berklee because we are surrounded by such an enormous variety of high-quality music and interesting ideas. There's always something worth seeing. Whether watching or participating, choosing between events is the problem."