Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

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Real World: Nashville (Part 3)—Don’t Run from an Imperfect World

In early 2018, alumna Eva Cassel answered the call of the muse and left a steady restaurant job in Nashville in order to take her songwriting skills and habits to new heights. What follows below is part three of a series chronicling her experience. (Read parts one and two)

By Eva Cassel B.M. ’17

Eva Cassel and band rehears before filming a music video

Gearing up to film the video for “Don’t Run.”

In a perfect world I would report a successful week of writing a song a day, inspired and uplifted. But if the world were perfect, I’d have nothing to write about. I’m going to be real with y’all, I did not write a song a day. I could make excuses, but life will always get in the way if I let it. Wallowing in guilt is just an easy way out; I constantly have to stop myself from diving head first into that whirlpool. Having the energy to forgive myself has been an essential part of getting my butt to the chair and writing. One verse, chorus, or idea is better than nothing. It was hard not to feel defeated, but feeling defeated isn’t the point—writing is.

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Famed Keyboardist Greg Phillinganes Puts It All in Perspective

At a recent master class cosponsored by Red Bull, keyboardist Greg Phillinganes worked with students in real time to help their performance skills and musicianship, as well as offer career advice. Berklee blogger Chandler Dalton shares her reflections about this special event.

Greg Phillinganes (center) poses with the student performers who participated in his Red Bull master class.

Greg Phillinganes (front, center) poses with the student performers who participated in his Red Bull master class.

Before anyone even stepped out onto the stage, there was an air of childlike excitement in the David Friend Recital Hall. Greg Phillinganes, the charismatic Toto keyboardist with a history of working with household names such as Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers, was about to impart knowledge onto an audience of hopeful composers and performers, and play in a full band of Berklee students. I couldn’t help but feel the pure thrill from some of my classmates that were about to watch their hero play alongside their peers, and it was yet another reminder of the symbiotic relationship between performers and their audience.

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Discovering Fado: Touring and Recording with Mariza

In fall 2017, bassist Lucy Clifford got the chance to record and tour with Portuguese fado sensation Mariza. Clifford reflects on the experience in the following selections from a travel journal she kept. You can also read the full version.

By Lucy Clifford ’16

Mariza poses with her 2017 touring band

The Mariza band, from left: Joao Frade, Mariza, Lucy Clifford, Luis Guerreiro, Pedro Joia

I was fortunate enough to accompany Mariza on her latest tour of the U.S., and in doing so, learned about the world of fado, a music in which Mariza can easily be described as the world’s reigning artist of today. I quickly gathered that no one has embraced fado with greater charisma than Mariza, and was amazed at how her, and the brilliant players that accompany her, have been reinventing its traditions. It was an opportunity that I am forever grateful for, and can sincerely say that not one concert went by on this tour where I didn’t learn something new about fine musicianship, fado, and its charming home – Lisbon, Portugal.

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Real World: Nashville (Part 2)—Breathing New Life into Writing Habits

In early 2018, alumna Eva Cassel answered the call of the muse and left a steady restaurant job in Nashville in order to take her songwriting skills and habits to new heights. What follows below is part two of a series chronicling her experience. (Read parts one and three).

By Eva Cassel B.M. ’17

Eva Cassel writing song ideas in her notebook

The artist in her natural habitat.

Results are in folks: there is nothing like a little bit of unemployment to spark some inspiration. While reveling in freedom, I’ve thought “I would be happy if I never had to work again.” Fortunately, that’s a lie. I am working. I spend my days learning and exercising my writing muscle, working to improve my craft. I may not be getting paid, but I am investing in myself.

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Small Steps to a Big Future: Advice from Natalia Nastaskin

By Katyayani Krishnan

Natalia Nastaskin

Natalia Nastaskin, head of U.S. music operations for United Talent Agency

Natalia Nastaskin moved to the USA from the Soviet Union with her family at the age of 8. Her family was extremely poor, but every Friday, her parents would give her and her brother a treat: a dollar for pizza slices. Her brother spent his 50 cents on slices and soda, and she’d save hers to buy records. She’d play each record on repeat, and with her English-To-Russian dictionary, learn the translation and pronunciation of every word on the record – teaching herself how to speak English; albeit at first, her vocabulary was somewhat limited to love and heartbreak.

Nastaskin was this year’s featured guest at the 25th Zafris Lecture series, sponsored by the Music Business/Management Department, and it was an absolute honor to get to hear her story firsthand. As she spoke of her life and professional journey, all I could notice was how resolute and unswerving she was, whether it was about her struggles or her successes.

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