Russell Hoffmann

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Russell Hoffmann is assistant professor of piano at Berklee, and is a pianist, recording artist, composer, and arranger in many styles of contemporary music, including jazz, Latin, and pop. He has served as musical director for Concord recording artist Marlena Shaw and the University of Minnesota's "Twelve Moods for Jazz" Langston Hughes project. He has performed with jazz luminaries such as Jack McDuff, James Moody, Billy Hart, Donald Harrison, Bobby McFerrin, Peter Leitch, and many of Boston's finest jazz artists.

As a clinician, Hoffmann has appeared in Berklee's Italy summer program at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy; Berklee in Taipei, Taiwan; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; the Heineken Jazz Fest in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the author of workbooks on keyboard comping, ensemble performance, and coauthor of Berklee Practice Method: Keyboard.

Career Highlights
  • Toured as musical director for Concord recording artist Marlena Shaw and the University of Minnesota's “Twelve Moods for Jazz” Langston Hughes project
  • Performed with Robben Ford, Donald Harrison, Billy Hart, Peter Leitch, Jack McDuff, James Moody, Rufus Reid, and Joe Zawinul
  • Compositions and arrangements performed internationally by the Berklee American Songbook Orchestra, the Boston Pops, Craig Ball and the White Heat Swing Orchestra, and the Tony Lada Quartet
  • Clinician at Berklee in Umbria, Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia, Italy; the Pan School, Tokyo, Japan; Seoul (South Korea) Jazz Academy; Fermatta in Mexico City, Mexico; Berklee in Taipei, Taiwan; BIN School, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the Berklee High School Jazz Festival
  • Featured on many recordings, including with the Berklee Great American Songbook Orchestra, Mel Gordon, Tedi Marsh, Steve Rochinski, Jan Shapiro, Bob Stoloff, and the Tony Lada/Larry Monroe Sextet
  • Author of Keyboard Comping and Ensemble Performance and Berklee Practice Method: Keyboard
In Their Own Words

"Playing the piano has got such a physical component to it. Understanding the gestures, the body motion, the language of each style—then incorporating an intellectual knowledge of the music along with the sound—it all works together. There’s no substitute for just getting in there, experiencing it, and playing, playing, playing."

"Whatever musical discipline my students are involved in, it’s important to me that they understand it’s going to demand a commitment toward expressing what they think is valuable about themselves. It takes some examination, and a lot of craft and dedication. There are always going to be setbacks, but then affirmation if you’re persistent and consistent in that commitment."

"When I was in college, I had a couple of different piano teachers, but the one I really soared with was someone who acknowledged to me that I had a special gift for the piano. And that really did it—I took it from there. That’s something I try to share with my students: that they’ve got something special and that I believe in them."

"Recently I had a student who was really struggling with her rhythmic time feel and confidence. As I worked through it with her, she was finally able to get outside herself and discover, with focused observation and practice, that she had a good sound and good rhythm—and that kind of realization is always nice to see."

"After many years I’m still like a little kid when I write or do something new in my music—I get really excited about it. And that discovery is lifelong. I want my students to know that they have a lot to look forward to."