Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Jeannie Greeley

Building America Street

It wasn’t until the four young boys from the Habitat house next door came sprinting on to the lawn like a makeshift football team that I realized the magnitude of what my colleagues and I were doing in New Orleans as part of Berklee’s trip with Habitat for Humanity.

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Take 5: An inside look at the Berklee 5-Week Summer Performance Program

Want an inside look at the Berklee 5-Week Summer Performance Program? Well, now you can view the entire 5-part documentary series, “TAKE 5,” on our YouTube page.

Follow our cast members from their hometowns across the country all the way until scholarships are awarded at the Blowout Concert.

Here’s a little breakdown of the series:

All Take Five Episodes are now live on the PULSE website and on our YouTube Page!

Episode 1: Meet our cast members from around the country. Get some background on Berklee and the 5-Week program. Hear the students’ dreams. (If you’re anything like some PULSE team members who will go unnamed, you might want some tissues for this part.)

Episode 2: Get an insider’s look at the Berklee dorms. See the students’ packed schedules. Hear the first notes that the ensembles start playing together.


Episode 3: Woah. We are deep in the trenches now. One minute it’s gospel, then it’s Michael Jackson, then it’s Beyonce. Watch as the students tighten their acts before the big show.

Episode 4: Madness. Total madness. That’s all we can say! And the Blowout is one week away.

Episode 5: Watch some clips from the amazing Blowout concert performances by the 5-Week students. And see which of our cast members are awarded full scholarships to Berklee. (Keep those tissues handy.)

A special thanks to our cast members: Aaron Liao and Austin DeVries from Seattle; Kadeem Roberts and Ashwa Marshall of Boston; and Tasmine Ballentine and Ashton Riker from Memphis. We couldn’t have done it without every single one of you!

Take 5 Episode 4


Maybe it’s the raw emotion of this episode. Maybe it’s the intimacy of the backstage accounts. Or maybe it’s the excitement leading up to the Blowout concert. We can’t say for sure. But whatever it is about Episode 4 of Take 5, it’s caused the thing to spread like wildfire within and outside of the Berklee community. And we couldn’t be more excited.

One thing that stands out in this episode, probably more than any before it, is the music. Picture is only half of any good production. And we have our PULSE audio guru, Elizabeth Acle, to thank for that crucial other half of the production – sound.

Elizabeth laid down original tracks in this episode and synched them with the classroom audio that was present in the footage, creating for the viewer the same intensity and pace that our cast members experienced during their last week of rehearsals. Additionally, she has created numerous MIDI tracks to create the perfect mood for the episode, and also composed original ballads to strike just the right emotion.


As we work to wrap up Episode 5, we are sad to see this project coming to an end. It was a bit of an experiment when we started out. But with the help of all the talented folks here at PULSE, and the diligence of our student producers, we’ve turned it into a top-notch production.

You can also see episodes 1-4 on the PULSE site in the Study Room or on the Berklee site.

Enjoy the show! And please feel free to blog your hearts out with any feedback.

TAKE 5, Episode 2: Capturing Reality

What is it like for a high school musician to arrive at Berklee and plunge into the 5-Week summer curriculum?
That is the essence of what we were trying to capture for the second episode of the TAKE 5 reality series produced by PULSE.

What we got looked like this: Arriving at Logan Airport on a red eye flight. A trip to Berklee via the T. An unexpected case of pink eye. Nerves. A peak at the Berklee dorm rooms. Dreams. And our first glimpse of these students getting their footing in their new ensembles.

If it looks like this material just came together on its own, then great! We’ve done our jobs. But this project was actually a careful collaboration. The students featured in TAKE 5 were given weekly assignments and production tips from the PULSE team, similar to the ones you see here: TAKE 5 Assignment, TAKE 5 Production Tips

If we want to make a musical analogy here, you could say the TAKE 5 students were our leads, and we helped out as the chorus. Hopefully the final result is music to your ears. (Okay, we’ll stop now and let the musicians speak for themselves.)

Check out our TAKE 5 stars – Austin & Aaron, Tasmine & Ashton, and Kadeem & Ashwa – in the new episode of TAKE 5.

Go to the Berklee TAKE 5 page to check out the newest episode of the show.

Launching Take 5: Episode 1


T5logoMaking the Take 5 Documentary:

1.  Put Flip-cams in envelopes.  √
2.  Seal envelopes.   √
3.  Mail to six teenage musicians around the country to have them film their lives.  √
4.  Cross fingers and pray!  √

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