I’m here in Freiburg, visiting a group of Berklee students studying for a semester at the Jazz and Rock Schulen. At four, the group is small and tight-knit, and makes for even more personalized attention in the classroom. Aside from ensembles and a few classes, the Berklee students take their classes (which are in line with the Berklee curriculum) independently from the Jazz and Rock Schulen students.
After a day of getting settled—climbing the Schlossberg, visiting the Freiburg Münster, jogging along the Dreisam River, and eating a proper German meal (read: fleisch and kartoffel)—I spent some time at the school, which is just a short walk from the city center.
I sat in on a tonal counterpoint class with the school’s artistic director Bernhard Hofmann. He led Berklee student Will Park, a songwriter who hails from Fairfax, Virginia, and Steffen Bodemer of the Jazz and Rock Schulen, in composing an eight-bar, two-part melody using Finale software.
It was a real effort in collaboration. “When you’re composing in class, the choices are very personal sometimes,” says Hoffman. “You have to make sure everyone supports it.”
For Park, the class has helped him become a better songwriter. “I write a lot of melodies. Even without me thinking about it, this class has helped me develop my melodies in a better way.”
And even in a city as far away from Boston as Freiburg, there was another sort of Berklee connection—Bodemer was about to depart for Salzburg, Austria to perform as part of the Jazzchor Freiburg with Bobby McFerrin—a recent Berklee artist-in-residence.
The connections didn’t end there; in Vanessa Garber’s private flute lesson with Tom Timmler, she worked on a piece by Berklee professor Fernando Brandao, with whom she took a Latin and Brazilian Styles Flute Lab.