Hey everyone! Nazli here (pronounced Nazla)…I’m new to the PULSE department at Berklee. I am the administrative assistant.  My newness is so new that I’ve only had one staff meeting so far! At my first meeting, I learned about the recent travels of our Director, Dan Newsom. Dan had just returned from a site visit in San Francisco. He went to visit an organization called Youth Uprising to see how PULSE could be integrated with their current programs. It’s always good to get to know the people that you work with so I decided to have a quick sit down with him to find out more about his job and the trip.

1. How long have you worked with PULSE and what brought you here?

I have worked for PULSE since 2006 – before it was actually PULSE and before it was given the name. Curtis Warner asked me to come on board and help design some online music education materials.

2. Do you play an instrument or many instruments? If yes, which one(s)?

I play piano the best of all the instruments I play. Of the others, I’m kind of in various stages. I wish I were better at all of them but I’m not.

3. What song has had the highest rotation in your music library in the past week? Personal preference, not work related.

Wow, good question. Well the thing is they are pretty close. It might be one of the last of this recent set of five songs that we have been recording. Those five songs are:
“Photograph” by Def Leppard
“Move Along” by The All American Rejects
“Drops of Jupiter” by Train
“That’s What You Get” by Paramore

“All The Small Things” by Blink-182
I’ve also listened to an old fiddle tune a few times called Sitting in the Stern of the Boat. It is a Scottish fiddle tune that we learned at camp last summer.

(Click here for a playlist of these songs!)

4. What are the 3 main criteria for a school or program to be considered for PULSE?

It is important that we draw a distinction between being considered for PULSE from being considered for the City Music Network. This is because the Network has some criteria of its own. For PULSE, I’m basically interested in seeing that there is a group of people who are genuinely interested in using PULSE because they have no music instruction at all at the moment, they have no formal music instruction, or they want to enhance whatever it is they have. As far as I’m concerned, I would like to see that anyone who asks could use PULSE. I can’t imagine saying no to anybody as long as they obey the law.

Youth Uprising is a 25,000-square-foot, high-tech youth leadership development center based in Oakland, CA.

5. What instigated your trip to Youth Uprising in San Francisco?

I’m a member of a group; I guess we’re known as the City Music National Task Force Committee. It’s Curtis Warner, Clint Valladares, Jim McCoy, Lynette Gittens, Krystal Banfield, David Mash, Karen Bell, and Grisel Ortiz. When we receive an application from an institution, we then decide if that institution warrants a site visit based upon their materials, such as a website or a brochure or something like that. Youth Uprising was considered to be a place where we should go visit. I volunteered because I used to live in Oakland and I’m always happy to go back to the Bay Area. I went with Jim McCoy.

6. Can you share an experience from your trip to YU that had the biggest impact on you?

They offer some interesting classes such as Beat Making, DJ Mixing, and ProTools. We sat in on a couple of classes. One was a group singing class. I suppose the Beat Making class was really interesting to me. To see how people will run a recording session where the objective is to make a beat of some kind of length. For instance, a beat could be a whole song or eight measures. Then, while someone is doing that, someone else is sitting down writing lyrics to a rap that will go over it. They will finish it up in a couple of hours. That was very interesting. It was also very interesting talking to the woman who is the director of the institution. Hearing her talk about local politics and getting involved with the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Oakland city council and how she leverages those relationships to help the organization.

In this video, Olis Simmons, director of Youth Uprising, speaks about the way the community of Youth Uprising shines through the challenges of the area.

7. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

There are a lot of people who want different things from PULSE. It’s fair to say that all those people probably have one thing in common: they’d like to see PULSE disseminated to a wide range of people. They’d also like to see PULSE, in particular, help kids who don’t have any access to any music education. But I think it’s accurate to say that the method for getting PULSE to different people is usually different for a lot of people and so are their ideas of what that means.

8. What aspect of your job would make other people jealous?

I get to do some pretty cool stuff. First of all, the staff we have is fantastic. I don’t know who is jealous of those of us who are on the staff. I do know that other people work with or have colleagues who they are not entirely enamored of and that can be unpleasant. I always pinch myself when I think about the fact that I get paid to go to recording sessions and sometimes participate and sometimes just sit there and listen and critique. I get to meet some pretty talented people and make music with them or at least make it possible for them to make music. So that’s pretty cool. I’d rather have that than a big boat. Let’s put it that way.