View Full Version : Mandolin at Berklee College of Music
Well, I am in as Associate Professor at Berklee here in Boston, under the wing of Matt Glaser in the string department. We are working to get an Acoustic String program happening, covering all aspects from bluegrass to jazz and including Celtic styles as well...eventually (maybe next year?) one can elect mandolin as Principal Instrument. I think we will be able to offer a great, well rounded musical education.
I will also be working in the guitar department, and next semester will be starting a Bluegrass styles lab as well as a Django lab.
Just wanted to get word out...
Congrats on your new appointment. I am teaching just a few doors down at the Boston Conservatory. We don't have a mandolin program -- I teach in the theory/composition department. I am so glad to hear that Berklee is doing it, at least.
Wishing you great success...
Please keep us informed of all developments.
does mark pucci still teach bass at berklee? we were friends years ago when i lived in boston. we even got him to play in our bluegrass band.
Hi Jim- I will drop by the Conservatory some time and say hello. I know that Adam Larabee is teaching at New England Conservatory- he's an excellent composer and player and a great guy.
It can be hard to convince the powers that be that the mandolin is worthy of a program of study. At Berklee, we are working to get banjo in there too, much to the horror of many http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
John- http://www.berklee.edu/faculty....&skip=0 (http://www.berklee.edu/faculty/faclist.php?type=department&value=BS&skip=0)
I don't see his name on the current list...
Maybe they will build a mandolin building in the future (because so many will want to study) and there will be a Sam Bush wing and a Bill Monroe wing. I'll come when they dedicate the Nate Bray wing.
Great, I was actually surfing throught the Berklee site last week looking to see what is offered for mandolin studies. The search came up short, and I was thinking of mailing someone out there to gather information. PLEASE keep me posted.
In my high school days I dreamed of attending Berklee but someone a year a head of me scared me away because he said everyone that goes there attends for a year or two and then drops out to look for a gig. He ended up working in a factory and living with his parents. That bummed me out so I ended up persuing a graphic design degree where I thought I could make a decent living, which I think worked out just fine :-) Later I met an actual grad that I took some jazz guitar lessons from and he said a lot of people graduate and do very well, oh well...
I am glad to see that the academic musical folks are taking the madolin seriously! Maybe they can have the Symposium East there eventually?
congrats john. berklee is such an innovative program. glad to have it in my part of the world. lets start getting some great mando based shows for the public to the superb venue at berklee.
Ethanopia- your mileage may vary! I went for 8 semesters including summers, and have never had a "day job" outside of music since my last job bussing tables in 1980 as a junior at Berklee. I learned pretty fast that it's cheaper to cook for yourself rather than eat out, and I didn't own a car for several years and relied on public transport...if you want a luxurious lifestyle, forget it, but I think someone once said something like "you only become a musician if you have no choice"...so a very stubborn personality has been a good asset for me! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif
PS- Struggling does suck, though. Next life I hope to be reincarnated as the same guy but with rich parents!!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif
Mark Pucci is a hellova bass player and great guy. He helped me out alot when I was stepping into bebop bass. He let me sit in alot at his gigs.
John, if banjo isn't yet a principal instrument at Berklee, then what instrument did Chris Pandolfi come in as?
Not sure- i think Chris had to be aligned with either the string dept. or guitar dept...
Congratulations John, that's fantastic news. Looking forward to hearing your new CD on Mapleshade, just ordered it.
I'd also like to welcome John. I'm one of the faculty here at Berklee who has been advocating for mandolin for a long time -- and finally we have an academic culture that is serious about supporting the mandolin, in proportion to its profile in the professional world. Great thing!
Other Berklee info relevant to mandolinists: David Hollender and I both teach the Newgrass/Bluegrass ensembles. David is accomplished on both bass and banjo. He also teaches straight-ahead jazz ensembles, and I have a string jazz ensemble. The ensemble program in general is now structured so that it's easy for any instrumentalist to get into ensembles in their area of interest, as long as they have the skills. There are also a number of string specific-labs of interest to mandolinists, including my Rhythmic & Harmonic Approaches for Strings. More info on my academic website:
Chris Pandolfi is a great banjo player who recently graduated with banjo as his principal instrument. (Look for his awesome band, Wheelhouse!) That's a long story, but the good news is that Berklee is now open to mandolin (and probably banjo) -- and has admitted its first mandolin principals this semester in several years. But it will take some time before the complete mandolin or banjo-specific programs are in place. Meanwhile, at least they're no longer turning away these instruments.
As to the drop-out rate -- it's true it's high, largely because many students get what they need in less than four years. But the graduates are well-trained and (if the alumni surveys are correct) largely successful in their professional music careers.
Berklee is a professional trade school, and most concerned with preparing students for professional music careers. The reality of the music world is that the jobs are not advertised in the Sunday newspaper -- they're all word-of-mouth, and getting them means you have to be well-connected. There are various ways to do that, and Berklee is one of them.
Any visiting mando players coming to check out the school are welcome to look me up. I'll answer any questions I can.
Thanks, August. I'm happy to be in the company of excellent musicians like yourself and Dave.
Aw shucks, John!
Of course I forgot to mention the most important reason for bluegrass at Berklee -- it's Matt Glaser, the great jazz and bluegrass fiddler who heads up the string department and has been attracting serious fiddlers for a long time. Matter of fact, 20 years ago I was a student coming to Berklee for the first time, because Matt was here -- and I don't even play fiddle!