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"What I like to do the first week of class is get a feel of my students’ background and experience, what they’re into. What I try to do, especially in the lower-level ensembles, is introduce my students to different styles. In our department we have about five or six styles that we want them to learn, and we have some students who have no clue what they’re about, some students with a classical background who’ve never worked with jazz or pop or anything like that. I have to approach them from a theoretical standpoint, explain to them what it means for chord changes, certain bass patterns and drum patterns."
"I kind of build their self-esteem. They get scared, thinking 'How am I going to do this?' And I try to say it’s not that hard, it’s a lot easier than you think. You got in here. How did you get in here? You made that effort to get here, that effort to take your music somewhere else. When they hear that, they usually start to open up."
"What I try to get out my class is leaders. Everyone’s supposed to lead, everyone. I put people on the spot just to see how they’re paying attention to things. I’ll say, 'Okay, next week, I want you to lead.' Or I don’t even say that. I just say, 'You’re going to lead today.' In my class, you’re always on your toes. It’s the only way to develop leadership. You’ve got to be on your toes in the real world."
"The advantage of group playing at Berklee is that you’re getting all the theory, all the tools you need to function in an ensemble. And you can go, stylistically, from the ’30s to the ’60s to the present. And musicians need to be open, versatile, because you never know who’s going to call you to do something. If you are a great musician, you should be able to play anything. Here at Berklee you can play anything at all."