Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Lesley Mahoney (Page 3 of 10)

Re-Discovering Long-Lost Family Ties Through Berklee Mentorship Program

The following post was written by Berklee student Ziga Pirnat, a communications assistant in the Berklee Global Initiatives office who participated in the Berklee Mentorship Program.

Coincidence can sometimes be startling. That is usually my first thought when I remember a peculiar series of events that began in the fall semester of 2011. That was when I was accepted into the Berklee Mentorship Program and was connected with my mentors John and Teresa Howe from Belmont, Massachusetts. It would be unconceivable for me if someone told me at that point that, less than two years later, I would be witnessing a stirring sight of John’s sister-in-law hugging her second cousins in a remote town in Slovenia—long-lost relatives who had never known about each other before and might have never met if Berklee hadn’t assigned John and Teresa to be my mentors.

Indeed, Jane, Joanne, and Ingrid from the President’s Office did a wonderful job connecting me with the Howes. John and I first met at the opening meet-and-greet event of that year’s mentorship program, at the house of one of the mentors in Winchester. After a few words—not knowing anything about each other beforehand—we were astonished by how much we had in common. Before coming to Boston from my native Slovenia, I completed a degree in international relations and Indo-European languages, and worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. John, on the other hand, had studied international relations as well and was about to enter the world of diplomacy before choosing a different career path. He also shared my love for languages and, most of all, music. A singer and cosmopolite, he had travelled to many places around the world and was even familiar with my part of Europe. By the end of the evening, it felt like we were some old friends who had known each other for years.

My mentors Teresa and John with me in the middle

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More Music More Love with the Lusaka Youth Orchestra

Fourth-semester student Eleftherios Mukuka spent time this past summer in his native Zambia with classmates Lu Gari and Lyth Sidiq launching a charity project, More Music More Love, to create more access to music for disadvantaged children.  The following is a blog post from Mukuka about his experience.

With our windows closed and our eyes wide open we drove through the most dangerous neighborhood in Lusaka to meet with the young boys and girls of the Lusaka Youth Orchestra (LYO). Temba, the conductor of the orchestra, was with us and insisted that we meet the kids in their home environment, to see where they come from. Our destination was a humbly ornamented church in the poor neighborhood of Kanyama. As Lu, Layth, and I entered the church to introduce ourselves to the orchestra, the kids gazed at us with excitement. They were about 25 in total, the majority of them boys. We introduced ourselves and spoke a little about our musical backgrounds. They played two beautiful church hymns for us and shared some of their stories.


Berklee students with the Lusaka Youth Orchestra

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Bringing Lessons in Innovation and Technology to Malaysia

The following was written by Prince Charles Alexander, associate professor of music production and engineering.

Hello everyone. This is my second blog from Malaysia and the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur. Monday, August 19, the actual workshops began. There were four workshops each day and the schedule roughly followed the following outline.

9:30 a.m.    Registration of Participants
10:00 a.m.  Workshop 1
11:30 a.m.  Coffee Break
11:45 a.m.  Workshop 2
1:00 p.m.    Lunch Break
2:00 p.m.    Workshop 3
3:30 p.m.    Tea Break
3:45 p.m.    Workshop 4
5:00 p.m.    Close

Susan Lindsay started us off by speaking to ICOM’s (International College of Music) faculty about online learning, learning management systems, and content management systems. Jeanine Cowen contributed to the conversation from the curriculum point of view and these workshops were attended by roughly 15 of the ICOM faculty. I learned that Sue is a dynamic force behind the scenes of our online initiatives at Berklee and definitely someone to reach out to for any concerns with online course creation and management. After the workshops, the faculty took us out for dinner before we retired for the night.

Tuesday’s topic was the application of music technology in the classroom led by Dr. Cecil Adderley. Some 54 secondary school teachers and eight or so International College of Music (ICOM) faculty were in attendance for these workshops, which looked at using Finale and Sibelius in the classroom. Cecil explored Finale in front of the class and, once again, I came away feeling enhanced by the information available from my colleagues on this trip.

Prince Charles Alexander teaches Pro Tools.

Prince Charles Alexander teaches Pro Tools.

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Berklee Group Lands in Malaysia

The following post was written by Prince Charles Alexander, associate professor of music production and engineering.

Hello everyone. I left for Malaysia at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 15 to speak at the International College of Music (ICOM). It’s located in the city of Kuala Lumpur and is run by a Berklee alumna, Irene Savaree. For those of you that don’t know, Malaysia is 12 hours ahead of you so I’m actually blogging from your future. I love it. Anyway, we left at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday and went to Chicago. There was a typhoon in the Pacific so our connecting flight was delayed from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Since we arrived at about 2-ish, we went into Chi-town for lunch and had the best steak I’ve tasted in a long while. It must be that corn-fed Midwestern beef. Mmmm, just thinking about it is making me want to get back to Chicago. Which leads me to another point. I feel like I’m on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations because I’ve eaten in Chicago, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur on this trip.

Prince Charles Alexander, Cecil Adderley, Susan Lindsay, and Jeanine Cowen on the tram.

Prince Charles Alexander, Cecil Adderley, Susan Lindsay, and Jeanine Cowen on the tram.

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Recording in London

The following post was written by MP&E major and guitarist Mert Ozcan of Ankara, Turkey, who was among a group of students selected to visit two London recording studios: Abbey Road and British Grove Studios. 

A month before the semester was over Berklee gave me the best going away present it possibly could. I was taken to London for a week to spend two days at Abbey Road and three days at Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios. The experience was amazing to say the least—and I mean the word in its literal sense, not like when someone calls a basket of chicken wings amazing.


Mert on Pro Tools at Abbey Road

When I first got the email from Dan Thompson, assistant chair of MPE, with the subject line “Congratulations” I don’t think I fully comprehended the situation. I was working on my final production for MPE and a couple of freelance gigs so I didn’t have time to really think about what was going to happen, but the moment I stepped outside the plane at Heathrow it all became very real. To be in London and to be working with these legendary producers at these legendary recording studios is like our wildest dream. And it actually came true.


Students and faculty at Abbey Road

Just as if it wasn’t enough to be there to take it all in we actually got to get involved and contribute to the sessions. Daniel Bitran Arizpe and I were Pro Tools operators for David Hentschel at Abbey Road on our second day. Twice I captured a performance when the musician wasn’t aware that we recording, and he was just trying different things. Both of those times David asked me if I had it and I was able to say yes. That felt pretty good because it’s really hard to recreate a performance that happens accidentally. The sessions at British Grove were even more inclusive: Hugh Padgham was open to all of our ideas and we all had some input in the production. On top of that we got to perform on the tracks as well; Chelsea, Brad, and Annette sang background vocals, Andy played percussion. The experiences we had and the things we learned by working with these iconic producers at these top of the line studios were invaluable.


Producer Hugh Padgham (center) with students

Apart from the sort of professional experiences, if you will, the personal experience of just being in London was also incredible. It was my first time going there and I don’t think I would have been able to go there for a very long time if it wasn’t for this trip. I tried to get the most out of the city and the culture by going to a new place every day and doing something different. We hung out with the artists after the sessions as well and built a relationship. I don’t think anybody on this trip is ever going to forget about it or lose touch with anybody who was involved.

This was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have been a part of it. The fact that this is going to be an annual trip is incredible and I’m so happy for whoever gets to be next.





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