Tony "Thunder" Smith

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In Their Own Words

"I do a lot of performing and recording. I come from a fusion rock background and I play double bass drums. I try to get the students to understand what the real world is and what they're going to be required to do. Sometimes they have preconceived notions about what's really out there, and when they come here they want to be this kind of musician, or that kind of musician. Sometimes, when I tell them the truth they kind of go Oh. The deal here is you've got to work hard, get the students to work really hard, and tell them the truth. I like to bring a lot of reality into the lessons."

"Berklee is a wealth of faculty, in the Percussion Department alone. We're all experts in our field, which is really great, but no one teacher can teach you everything you need. What I try to do is make sure that students understand the reality of it, and that they know they're very fortunate to be at Berklee. Even someone who comes in as an amazing musician will always have an area he or she needs to work on."

"I hope that students get a desire and passion from me, because I'm a nut and I take that to all of my classes. I tell students that it's important to know what they do best and put it to the song. Look at the music and don't make it so heavy."

"I thrive on passion, and that's the whole thing. Everything's got to be exciting. I'm looking for a student to say 'What if I did this?'. I'm after the student to grab hold of it and just go. That's beneficial to them. If they can find the techniques, if they realize what I mean by basically playing the same thing only differently, we get into a conceptual thing. Most of my students already have it, it's just a matter of getting it out of them. It's ready and willing to come out."