What an honor it was for Debbie and Friends to participate in Berklee’s Early Childhood Symposium on April 9, 2012. The symposium was sponsored by Berklee’s Music Education Dept, under the leadership of Dr. Cecil Adderley, and included presentations and performances by Paul Reisler, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, and Debbie and Friends. It was a very special day with Berklee students, faculty, staff, and lots of families from the greater Boston area all focused on making music together.

Here’s a picture of Berklee’s Music Ed Majors on stage with Debbie and Friends having a great time with the kids and families in attendance. This was particularly special to me being an alumna of that program.

Debbie and Friends with Berklee’s Music Ed Majors

Berklee constantly strives to be a great place to learn, teach, and work. Events like the Early Childhood Symposium are just one more example of this.

Happy Holidays!

I’m pleased to share a piano method booklet for children that I developed with my Grandfather, Marty Gold. Marty is a wonderful musician who has enjoyed an amazing career in music. In fact, he’s the reason I became a musician. Recently, he told me about a piano “tent” he created to help kids learn the names of notes on a music staff. The story goes that Nabisco was going to put one in every cereal box back in the 1950s, and then pulled the project for fear there were not enough pianos in US homes. We decided to do the project together and make it available to friends of “Debbie and Friends.”

The following widget has a download link for a free copy of the Learning to Play Piano book and piano tent PDF files. A printed version of the book will be available soon. In the meantime, please let me know how the tent and method book are for your children!

Special thanks to Robert Heath of Barkley Studios for designing the keyboard tent, Greg David of Planet Sunday for the cover art image, and Shawn Girsberger for the book layout and design. What a dream team!!!

And, for the adults out there interested in learning to play the piano, I highly recommend the Berklee Keyboard Method online. Classes start Jan. 8.

All the best,


I’m delighted to announce the new Berkleemusic online learning environment will be unveiled this Fall term. Our new learning platform has been tested in a number of courses over the past few semesters with great success. The feedback from students and faculty has been extremely positive, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with the rest of our student body this Fall term.

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The new Berkleemusic learning environment makes its debut this Fall 2009 term.

The new learning environment will contain an enhanced feature set with many of the tools our students have been asking for, including:

- a real-time “Web Conferencing Tool” that allows for text, audio, and video-based meetings.

- the addition of “RSS” feeds.

- enhanced communication features including a student “Quick Nav.”

- a “Polling Tool” to help establish weekly chat times and to weigh in on course-related topics.

- a “Calendar Tool” to assist with planning and scheduling of both course-related and personal dates.

- a “Flash-based Recording Tool” to record and submit assignments, and for instructors to provide audio feedback.

- a brand new “Look and Feel” for the learning environment that has been designed and tested for readability and ease of use.

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Funk/R&B Guitar topic in the new Berkleemusic learning environment

All of us at Berkleemusic are incredibly excited about the new learning environment and look forward to sharing it with our students this Fall Term beginning September 28!

Pat Pattison is a world-renowned lyric writing instructor. In addition to being a Professor at Berklee College of Music, he presents songwriting clinics all around the world. Pat has taught thousands of aspiring songwriters and several of his students have won Grammys, including John Mayer and Gillian Welch.

Every time I have the good fortune to see Pat “in action” with a student and a song, I’m amazed by his ability to transform songs from good to great in a matter of minutes with very practical techniques. Here’s one example:

We are very fortunate at Berkleemusic to have three online Lyric Writing courses authored by Pat. I can tell you firsthand they are outstanding courses that will change the way you write and provide you with a powerful songwriting toolkit to use for years to come.

Classes start on Monday!

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Marty Gold conducting.

My grandfather, Marty Gold is a pioneer in music and music technology and has always been a true inspiration to me. He is the reason I became a musician. As a child, I loved listening to him play piano. I was intrigued watching him write orchestral arrangements on a stack table by the pool, and I loved playing in family jam sessions with him over the years.

Conducting the family band.

Marty Gold has enjoyed a diverse career in music. He toured with the Korn Kobblers as an arranger/pianist in the 1940s. The 18-piece swing band was all the rage and their best-selling records played on 175 radio stations daily in their heyday. The Korn Kobblers had some of the very first music videos on record.

Marty Gold left life on the road and soon became an A&R man for RCA Records in NYC. He arranged and produced such artists as Sarah Vaughn, Peter Nero, Lena Horne, and Marian McPartland. He also led The Marty Gold Orchestra and arranged, conducted, and recorded dozens of records for RCA, Decca, and others. Some of those recordings were among the first to be in “Stereo.”

A few Marty Gold Orchestra records.

This became a theme for Marty Gold: always on the cutting edge of music technology. At the age of 70 he got a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. He learned to use Finale music notation software at the age of 80. And now, well into his 90s, he continues to use the tools of technology in music.

When he retired from RCA, Marty Gold wrote arrangements for school orchestra and band for Warner Bros. Publications, Alfred Publishing, Carl Fischer and others. Some of the highlights in my own career have been where our musical paths have crossed. In the early 1990s, I was a music education editor for Warner Bros. Publications and as we were developing a series of Song/Activity books for Shari Lewis I was able to bring my Grandfather in to write all of the piano arrangements. Shari was thrilled to work with Marty again (he produced her records many years prior). For me, it was so exciting to be working with my grandfather professionally. Now, 15 years later we’re still working on projects together and it continues to mean the world to me.

With Father’s Day approaching, I want to thank my Grandfather, Marty Gold, for being such an inspiration to me. I am thankful for the career I enjoy in music and am thankful he modeled such an inspiring life in music when I was a child.

Marty Gold and me in 2006.

Who inspired your decision to pursue a career in music? Please share your stories.

Matt Marvuglio, Flautist, Prof. Performance Division Dean, Berklee College of Music

Memorizing music is an important function for all musicians. Matt Marvuglio, Berklee’s Dean of the Professional Performance Division, has developed a multi-modal approach to memorizing music that can be put into practice and applied immediately.

Below is an excerpt from his Artisthousemusic article entitled Memorizing Music. In addition to being a dean at Berklee, Matt is also a Berkleemusic online instructor and course author. Basic Ear Training and Basic Improvisation are two of his online courses.

The biggest fear of memorizing music is forgetting. Forgetting usually happens when a retrieval strategy breaks down. It happens to everyone if you don’t process the music in a number of different ways. We need to process music in a number of different ways so you will be confident that you will not forget. This way, if one system breaks down, the other one can take over. Maybe a better way of describing playing music without reading it would be “internalizing” the music. Let’s talk about the different ways that you can internalize a piece of music through different memory systems.

Visual is the most common memory system through which we all relate to the world. For some of us, this is the way we learn music. We read it. When you close your eyes, you can visualize the part and see the page in front of you.

Tactile is the memory system through which we can feel the music by fingering the instrument. You can remember how a passage feels and you can reach for it. Through this system you can recognize familiar patterns such as scales and arpeggios. Musicians who don’t read can rely upon this memory system.

Aural is the memory system through which we can hear the music. Solfege is a system of study that clearly identifies the pitches in a systematic way and helps us build our aural perception. Scale degrees are assigned numbers or syllables and you identify chromatic alterations and key changes.

You need to use all of these systems and be aware of what you are seeing, feeling, and hearing when you practice. Also, it is important to isolate each system to fully understand what’s happening. This is a great way that you can put your music theory and solfege to use. Everyone will have a different memory system that is stronger based upon how you practice and learn music. Click here to look at a passage from the J.S. Bach Minuet in G and put it through the different memory systems.

Whether online or off, we all want to be part of one.

Berkleemusic’s continuing education students tell us that a sense of community is one of the most important parts of their online educational experience. Throughout a 12-week semester online, students network and study with classmates from all over the world. The course community helps students form lasting connections that live beyond the semester and into their professional lives.

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We have a number of tools, both asynchronous and real-time, available to students to foster communication and collaboration in any given Berkleemusic courses. They are a:

Discussion Board

– A “meet and greet” at the beginning of a course
– Lesson-specific questions presented by the instructor
– Student-generated questions or ideas
– Assignment feedback: instructors and classmates review and critique lesson assignments each week.

Chat Tool

The chat tool is used for a weekly office hour also known as a class meeting. The students and instructor spend an hour chatting about the lesson of the week. Sometimes, an instructor will invite a guest artist or industry luminary in to participate in the chat.

In addition to the discussion boards and chat tool, there are instructor announcements, private messaging for confidential exchanges, and even email to help to keep the communication flowing and the course community collaborative.

How important is a sense of community to you in your online education? What are some of the ways that help you feel part of an online course community? What’s lacking? What kind of tools or interactions would you like to see?

I look forward to your responses!

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As I finish grading the last of my Music Theory 101 assignments from the Fall 2008 term, I’m reminded of something John Mayer said to the Berklee College of Music undergrads at a recent clinic he conducted.

“The reason that you learn [music theory] is you’re taking something that began as impulse or sentiment, something very impalpable, and are learning to turn that into musical information, so that it can travel from person to person…take that math and turn it into color as fast as you possibly can.”

For those who apply themselves, Berkleemusic’s Music Theory 101 online course actually takes students from learning basic note names and rhythms to voice leading seventh chord inversions, creating accompaniments, and writing melodies… all in the span of just 12 weeks. The course is nothing short of incredible.

Every time I teach a section of Music Theory 101 online, I’m in awe of the solid music theory foundation the students build, and how quickly they are able to use their new tools to create art. That foundation will continue to serve them in all of their musical pursuits for many years to come.

Berkleemusic’s Music Theory 101, authored by Chair Emeritus Paul Schmeling, is a proven path to turning your inspiration into art with pragmatic tools of the trade. Check out a sample lesson to learn more.

The Art of Learning

Jan 02 2009

Happy New Year! I just read my first book in 2009, The Art of Learning: A journey in the pursuit of excellence, and wanted to share it with the Berkleemusic community.

Author, and eight-time National Chess champion, Josh Waitzkin chronicles his life through the lens of learning, focus, and achievement. The principles provided are solid and proven, and the real-life examples based on Waitzkin’s life experiences are intriguing and heart-warming.

The book is filled with information about how we learn, and is based on the findings of Dr. Carol Dweck, a leading researcher in the field of developmental psychology. Dweck looks at entity and incremental theories of intelligence and the behaviors associated with them as applied to learning. The information is great for anyone interested in lifelong learning.

Waitzkin makes the point that a key component of high-level learning is cultivating a resilient awareness that is the older, conscious embodiment of a child’s playful obliviousness. The “balance beam,” for example, is wide for child who will readily try again after falling. However, for an adult, the beam becomes much more narrow as we grow keenly aware of the risks and dangers of falling/ failing.

Continuing education and lifelong learning are the keys to any successful career path or endeavor, and Waitzkin’s ideas presented in this book are applicable to all pursuits.

I highly recommend The Art of Learning.

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Wolfgang’s Vault is an incredible resource of concert recordings from every artist you can imagine (seriously). It’s a treasure trove of recordings that can be streamed and shared in many elegant ways. I highly recommend this resource!

My post today, is dedicated to my Fall 2008 online Music Theory class.
Shout Out to Section 8!

They are doing a great job learning about rhythms and time signatures in this, the second week of Music Theory 101 online.

I thought it would be fun to find concert recordings with songs that represent some of the time signatures they are studying. There are lots of examples in 4/4 time, a common meter in rock music. But, there are also some more obscure time signatures present throughout the Vault’s recordings. Here is one of the most famous songs in 7/4 time, “Money” by Pink Floyd.

What other interesting time signatures can you find in the concert recordings of Wolfgang’s Vault? Anyone? Anyone? ; ) Please post them here.