Author Archives: Justine

The Trivium in Music – Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric

Part 1: Grammar

by John Anthony Martinez ’87

Recently, I had the honor of conducting a masterclass, along with keyboard synth pioneer and Johns Hopkins University Professor Thomas Dolby, on the rhythm section at Oxford University. My lecture examined questions such as: What is time? What is rhythm? How do we define a rhythm section and what are the roles or functions that the individual members play in it? What does it mean to groove?
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Peaches & Cream: A Phonobooth Recording

by Zachary Lucia ’14

Kim Logan ’10, a singer-songwriter in Nashville recently recorded an original song, Peaches and Cream, in a 1947 coin-operated phonobooth at Third Man Records.

You may remember Kim from her awesome blog post about fashion trends and the musicians that once heralded them.  With this project Kim again shows a deep appreciation for music’s history and her efforts to show its relevance to our modern day trends.  As if the phonobooth video isn’t cool enough, Continue reading

The First Sound We Hear… and the Second

by Eruch Kimball ’03

We all begin life the same way. We all develop in a similar environment.  We all listen to the same things. Our world is sound. Seventy decibels of sound. Constant. All inclusive. It is our only reference to the world we’re just beginning to learn about. Equivalent to driving down the highway with the windows rolled down, the first world we experience as humans is filled with sound.

The Mother’s heartbeat.  Comforting, yet unending. A steady pulsing wave of ocean-like noise as air rushes in and out of her lungs. The gurgle of her internal organs, comforting, like the purring of an engine. All of these sounds are echoed and reverberated through the fluid that cradles us as we slowly awake to the world. Continue reading

Two-Five-One: Grey


Name: Grey
Major(s): Professional Music
Hometown: Manchester, NH
Current City: Boston, MA

How has your Berklee experience shaped your view of the music industry? Was it spot on or did you need to shift your perspective?

I felt I had a pretty level perspective.

I came to Berklee looking for a practical way to make music the focus of my professional life. During the course of my time at Berklee, I sought out mentors who I felt would support me in my goal to create a realistic music career. I was a pessimist, and believed that I needed to make real money soon after graduation in order to justify the cost of the investment.

I found that most of the musicians I admired would never look down on another musician’s way of paying the bills.

Before coming to Berklee, I spent several years working at terrible jobs for meager wages. I was not about to let my idealism drag me back there. But some of my classmates came straight from high school and needed to learn to respect the power of the dollar.

Can you touch on the importance of your networking, skill and talent?

Networking is just one aspect of personal branding and reputation management. The work you do to spread your reputation will only take a small portion of your time but may result in the majority of paying work that comes your way. Every single gig that came my way happened as a result of someone credible dropping my name.

It’s important to remember you are networking with everybody you meet, whether you realize it or not. I am a little bit cynical about going to events and handing out name cards. The big shots are not eagerly waiting to exchange greetings with you at a local Meetup. However, one way or another, the community needs to hear about the great work you’re doing. The work you do is like a pile of firewood, and the networking you do is like the match that sets it ablaze.

I believe that talent is a myth. The nature versus nurture debate is over. Even those of us with ordinary genes are capable of extraordinary things.

What is something you’d wish you’d known “then” (before starting Berklee, during Berklee, or your first year out of Berklee)?

In my last year, I wish I had known how successful I was going to be in the following years. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay my expenses. In the end, everything worked out better than I could have imagined… and I wasted a lot of time worrying.

What should a new alum focus on as they enter the job market?

Being determined to make ends meet, being open to interesting opportunities, having the self-respect to apply your skills usefully in a wide range of places, and–of course–learning to enjoy the taste of humble pie. Bide your time and your day will come. If you wanted an office with a leather chair and all you got was a mop, be the best mopper you can be. If you’re no good with a mop, why would anyone trust you with more?

How does your degree play a role in your current career path?

My degree has given me a huge amount of credibility. When you have a degree, people give you the benefit of the doubt and search for proof of your abilities.

Grey graduated from Berklee’s Professional Music program in 2011. As his final project, he created a school of guitar in Boston. In 2014, Grey traveled through Asia for over a year, leveraging the low cost of living there to create, a professional-quality free guitar learning resource. He has since returned to Boston where he focuses on creating high-quality online guitar lessons and managing the school, Hub Guitar Boston.

Grey can be found on the web via:

Grey’s School of Guitar in Boston

Hub Guitar 500+ Professional Guitar Lessons

Grey’s 300+ Professional Guitar Lessons (Chinese Version)

Two Five One is a series of blog posts by alumni. They write about two places (where they’re living & their hometown) answer five questions about their post-graduate experience, and it’s a one-off post. For more information about blogging for Berklee as an alumni, email



by Robert Gillies ’11

Robert Gillies

I recently had the realization that I’m a little nuts. Where many others choose security and stability in their lives and professions, I choose discomfort, and though discomfort comes in many forms, I live with a most subtle kind: that of being an introvert in a profession that is an extrovert’s dream. Whereas extroverts gain energy from spending time with people, introverts are often drained and exhausted by social experiences, and I somehow decided, in my infinite wisdom, that being a solo singer-songwriter and touring artist would be the best fit for me.

One of the hardest critiques I ever received early on in my career was from an audience member who, after the show, said that though the songs and the performance were top-notch, there was something missing in the delivery, in the emotion. In short, they didn’t get out of the show what you could argue is the most important thing – an emotional connection. My desire to turn inward and my inability to connect with that many people on the level that was needed ultimately lampooned what could have been an incredible show.

As we grow in years we often gain insights into who we are and how we operate, and I’ve always been intensely fascinated by social interactions and why I often don’t understand or fit into them. I discovered over time that I fit quite neatly into an uncomfortable category of people who, logically speaking, really shouldn’t pursue a life on stage: I’m an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs scale and intense social anxiety is my friend.

Songwriting is a very personal form of artistic expression and performing those songs on stage, engaging with an audience both on & off of that very public platform, and maintaining the social life that must needs accompany the profession is intensely exhausting. Many are the day I wish I could just stay at home, drinking my tea, reading my books, and let the world go on without me.

But I realized that not only could I overcome those limitations, I had to. I’m tempted to think that we’re all faced with existential challenges in our lives, challenges that call for us to look within ourselves and re-evaluate who we are, how we operate, and how we can move forward. Those challenges will continue to hound us until we find the courage to confront them head on, but once we do we will discover that life beyond is greater than we could have imagined.

As I faced my fears head-on, those harsh critiques and off-balance shows became learning experiences. I became braver on stage, I took more risks, I opened myself up to new experiences. I embraced my fear of improvisation and played slews of shows without set lists to test my ability to emotionally read an audience. It was, and still is, a very messy experience, but I’ve been very careful to maintain the performer’s veneer; I don’t want an audience to experience a bad show for the sake of my own personal growth.

In the end I’ve accepted that this will be a life-long battle, but I see no reason to believe that there is ever a ceiling on our personal development but the ones we impose on ourselves.

Robert Gillies graduated in 2011 and is now living and working in Oakland, CA, as a touring singer-songwriter and composer. He is reachable at and can be found on Twitter and Instagram under @robertgillies. Please visit for more details.