A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Coursera – DYM Lesson 6 videos (1)

Video #1 for the sixth, and final, lesson of Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class is the student/faculty interview. This one is Berklee propaganda, as the students try to sell us on the Berklee environment and experience.

1. Berklee Faculty/Student Spotlight: What Do You Like Most About Berklee? (5:10)

coursera_musicianshipThe video opens with the question, “What do you like most about Berklee?” The first person to answer it is the male Chinese student who we saw in previous interviews. He says that his favorite aspect of Berklee is the large pool of musicians that students can work with. He claims that this is something unique to the school, which isn’t something I can validate, as I’ve never been to a music school or really compared them with each other. He also says that people who attend the school can feel that they’re not only students – but that the student and teacher are learning from each other.

The 2nd person up is the Sri Lankan girl. She says that she’s never been in a proper college atmosphere before, and that she’s someone who watches a lot of movies, so she was initially “a little freaked out” because she thought her experience might be like the movie Mean Girls. Instead, she says it was amazing because there was an “atmosphere of music.” She says that everyone was welcoming and pleasant. It made her feel like she truly belonged. She also had many memorable experiences as the company manager for a musical theater club. There, she stage-managed their performance of Footloose. She loved the experience and the people that she worked with.

The 3rd interviewee is the Hispanic male whose parents sang barbershop. He said that one of the best features of Berklee for him was the opportunity to meet and interact with a bevy of international students. He said that he enjoyed often being one of only five Americans out of 25 people that were in his circles and talking with them to hear their perceptions of America. Its something that he wasn’t directly exposed to before. And, he said, with that came all of their artistic influences, which were completely different from his. He ultimately believes that as someone with aspirations of going into music education, this will be beneficial for both him and his future students. The exposure to people, ideas, accents and music really excited him. He also said that the school has about 70% associate professors, who are part-time teachers and spend the rest of their time doing the “real deal”, or playing music. He said that, “If you are on top of your stuff, you do a good job in class and your ensemble, your teacher also has a band or two outside of school. They’re just as likely as anything to pick you up – especially when you start getting in your later semesters. The teachers know that you’re starting to try getting out in the field and they will start picking you up for gigs.” That’s a nice way to network and get your feet wet.

The 4th interviewee is the Jamaican girl. She said that her first week was overwhelming – in a good way though, she adds. She remembers getting to the school, getting scheduled, and then hearing everyone play. She was wowed. She initially questioned whether she was really cut out to be there. She attended a jam session in her first week and just listened. Attendees didn’t believe that the people playing were students. They thought that they were young professors coming to the session to intimidate them. But, she said, they were students – and they were amazing. She said that it was motivating, because the experience could be taken in two different ways. The first was to get intimidated and want to go home. But, the second was that the student could learn, get better and hear him or herself like they were hearing those people. I think this is a true example of inspiration.

The last interviewee is the male Jewish pianist who produced The Loft Sessions. He said that being at Berklee helped him to redefine what being an artist meant. He found that there is just as much artistry involved in engineering, conducting and designing synthesizers as there is in singing in front of a crowd or playing piano. He found it inspiring to be around so many people that had a diversity of niche talents but whose goals were all centered around the same thing – a love for music. He said that spending 4 years surrounded by people like that is incredibly inspiring, and that a student could come in as a metalhead or as a composer and that there would be some small community at Berklee that would welcome him or her with open arms. He recalls that he came to Berklee initially with the intent to be a piano major. After getting involved with ensembles and working with woodwind groups and strings, he realized that his talent lay more in arranging and production management. He believes that putting himself in those situations made him a more well-rounded musician.

I can’t say whether their experiences are different from other music schools, but they all seemed to have transformative experiences to some degree.

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One response

  1. Pingback: Coursera – Developing Your Musicianship Lesson 6 | Ugly Bass Face

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