Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Berklee Alumni (Page 3 of 5)

Berklee Alumni

Who do you think you are? Musicians make their next career moves in PULSE’s Practical Skills Level 2

Live from New York … It’s Saturday night! Well, okay, we’re actually coming at you from Boston, and at the time of this posting, it’s Friday morning. But we’re feeling a big connection to Saturday Night Live as of late. Just recently, the show featured Karmin, some of our favorite alums featured in PULSE’s Practical Skills Level 1. And now … drum roll please … we bring you our newest addition to the Study Room – Practical Skills Level 2! And, as part of it, we feature another SNL star — the house band’s keyboardist, Tuffus Zimbabwe, who shares his path to success in the Career Opportunities section of the unit.

Practical Skills Level 2 helps students continue working on the real life skills that will take their music to the next level. It focuses on helping students hone their writing and communication skills, explore the different careers available to musicians, and understand the importance of defining what you and your music are all about. With plenty of videos and downloadable worksheets, the unit helps aspiring musicians to develop the tools needed to get noticed in the music industry, and to investigate potential careers in music.

Now, without further ado, meet Tuffus Zimbabwe. He is a Pianist, Composer, and Arranger and a City Music and Berklee alum. He might look familiar from his great gig as the keyboardist in the Saturday Night Live band. In this video, he shares his educational journey and how he got to where he is today.

Do you think that music has the power to heal? Then meet Sarah Blacker, a Music Therapist and Singer/Songwriter (and Berklee alumna!) who uses music in her work with people with disabilities. Learn more about what it takes to be a music therapist, and start thinking about the different ways that music can be developed into a career.

Log-in to to check out the rest of our career videos featuring Music Educator Darcel Wilson, Guitarist/Performer Jeff Gitelman, who’s played with the likes of David Bowie and Alicia Keys, and Chris Rival, a Producer/Engineer who owns his own recording studio in Greater Boston.

One of the great things that we take away from these career video profiles is the strong sense of identity that each of these musicians possess. Don’t you feel like you understand them or have a grasp on the direction in which they want to take their musical careers? That’s because they’ve all had to look introspectively to realize what they want to project as part of their musical identities. In the “Defining You” section in Practical Skills Level 2, you’ll learn about Marketing and Branding basics with Mike King, Director of Marketing for Berklee Media.

In the “Working With Words” section, we tackle a topic that many musicians don’t like to address: writing. Learning how to communicate your ideas and your mission effectively could get you just as far as a hit song. But we won’t have you writing novels or sappy love poems. The subject matter of this work is way more interesting, because it’s all about you.

An artist statement, biography, resume, or a blog all have some do’s and don’ts that are good to have under your belt. In this next video, Katie Barnes, City Music Boston‘s Recruitment and Enrollment Coordinator, explains the basics of a bio and how you can make it your best!

Now check out the Bio in action with these City Music students who share excerpts from their bios and tell you why it’s an important tool to have in your arsenal.


There are worksheets that go with each segment. Here’s a quick preview of what you would use when developing your bio.




Want to learn more about Berklee PULSE? Take the tour on youtube, like us on facebook, or follow us on twitter. You can find more about the Berklee City Music Program here.

5 Questions with Captain America composer Alan Silvestri

Earlier this year, I got a chance to interview Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated composer Alan Silvestri at one of the rehearsals for his concert with the Video Game Orchestra at Symphony Hall, where he conducted his suites for Forest Gump and Back to the Future.

The sold-out performance also included appearances by other accomplished film and television composers, many of whom are from the Berklee fold, including Gold Knight winner and almnus, Lucas Vidal, and Emmy-winner, and Chair of Berklee’s Film Scoring department, Daniel Carlin.

Berklee alumnus and Golden Knight winner Lucas Vidal rehearsing with the Video Game Orchestra

Film Scoring Chair Daniel Carlin conducting the Video Game Orchestra

Founded by Berklee alumnus Shota Nakama in 2008, the Video Game Orchestra is the first and only New England based orchestra that focuses on showcasing interactive media compositions and is comprised of graduates from Boston-area conservatories, including Berklee College of Music. The breadth of music represented at the concert was not simply confined to artists with Berklee ties, however, as the second half of the concert highlighted the best in video game music, including Wataru Hokoyama’s suite from Afrika (who flew into Boston to conduct his suite live at the concert),  Yasunori Mitsuda’s suite from Chrono Cross, and Nobuo Uematsu’s infamous suite for Final Fantasy VII. Given the huge turn-out and incredibly enthusiastic response from the audience, I sincerely hope producing a concert that celebrates the work of film and video game composers becomes an annual event [to see more photographs from the rehearsal, scroll to the bottom of this post].

The Video Game Orchestra's musical director, Yohei Sato, rehearsing with the orchestra in anticipation of their Symphony Hall debut.

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The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide

Eric Normand, the author of The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide gives a sneek peak at his new book!

I’m here today to tell you about a book, a book that I believe every musician or aspiring artist should read, “The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide.” The book is a street-level perspective of the music related jobs in the Nashville music industry and has been 2 1/2 years in the making – a labor of love, borne out of my genuine desire to help musicians navigate the rough seas of the music industry. As a professional freelance musician working in the Nashville music industry over the past decade, my experiences here have been an education as much as anything else. But long before I came to Nashville, I was sitting in a classroom learning music theory, and moving to Nashville, let alone writing a book about this place was the furthest thing from my mind.

When I walked out of the learning halls of Berklee for the last time, back in the spring of 1989, I had no idea what my future would hold. Although I was fairly proficient on my axe and armed with vast theoretical knowledge, at that point I didn’t yet have the much-needed street experience a musician can only gain from years of pounding the pavement – the endless stream of nightclub bands and gigs, years of teaching private lessons in a 6 x6 cubicle, driving two hours to play a gig after working all day as a salesman in a music store, maintaining a PA system, and the delicate juggling act required to successfully wear all of these hats and still keep my sanity.

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Life After Berklee – Pilot Season

In her last post Sylvie Simhon talked about transitioning into her career. Now, she shares her experience as a composer’s assistant!

In March I took a part-time unpaid internship with composer Jeff Russo. It was fairly straightforward “intern work” in the beginning. Make coffee, pick up lunch, learn the setup, etc. Eventually my duties extended to engineering and editing when I became familiar with everything. We worked on some re-writes and edits for Lifetime’s Meet Jane pilot. (Status of the series is unknown.)

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Life After Berklee – Growing Pains

Gracie Finnigan-Fox, a 22 year-old Berklee graduate, tells a funny and heart felt story about her immediate life post Berklee. Fox studied Pro Music and now teaches and performs in the land of palm trees – Los Angeles.

My post-grad plan was to pack up the scant belongings I possess and head out to that magical, musical land of Los Angeles. The details of what would happen once I got there were a bit fuzzy in my mind, but I was confident that I could figure it out when the time came.

Of course, life never complies with the plans we so carefully lay, and on May 8th, 2010, I found myself wearing a robe and cap, clutching a diploma and feeling overwhelmed with exhaustion. So instead of jetting straight from Boston to LA, as I had planned, I wound up moving south for the summer to live with my boyfriend and waitress at a rib joint. However, the novelty of doing very little soon wore off and by August, we were cramming our car with suitcases and preparing to trek out to Los Angeles.  To say that the subsequent road trip was a disaster would be an understatement—in the two months we spent traveling, like a pair of characters from On The Road, up to New York, through the mid-West, and over to California, we were robbed of all of our clothes (odd), broke a car window, hit a deer, and totaled the car. We were also close to broke when we reached our destination.

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