Hey from Dave Clark

Discussion in 'Ask the Berklee Bass Department' started by Dave Clark, Jan 7, 2014.


  1. Dave Clark

    Dave Clark Berklee Bass Department Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2013
    Hi Everybody -

    Happy New Year! I just started poking around here, what an amazing place! I'm looking forward to learning a ton from all of us denizens of this place to the extent I have time to hang out (this is where I usually say "hahahahahaha"). But busyness beats the alternative!

    Anyway, jokes aside, I will definitely be checking in here and utilizing this amazing community. I know I can learn a lot about equipment here, for one thing. Music too! But about the equipment: I am returning to pedals as we speak, and stocking up on a few toys. The thing that reminded me to finally log on here was that I googled Bass Wah and came to, you guessed it, talk bass.

    Anyway, to give you a little bit of an idea about me. I somewhat resemble the profile of a kind of student that we see more and more of at Berklee. The multi-instrumentalist of diverse musical interests who likes to play and record with a variety of folks in a variety of styles. I started as a pianist, a singer, then a drummer. Then I was actually teaching drums and playing and singing professionally in my late teens and early 20s while at the same time transitioning to the bass guitar via playing in a few bands and teaching myself to read on the bass guitar using Simandl in my bedroom. After awhile I realized that I wanted to study the upright so I could play jazz (I had been a jazz drummer all through Jr. High and High school. All I did during those years when I was home was listen to Philadelphia Jazz Radio 24/7. Then in 12 grade, all my bandmates went off to college so I got involved more in composing and classical percussion and beginning to mess around on my friend's fretless fender bass). Anyway, TMI yet? Better take a glance at the scrollbar, heheh. So within a couple years of messing I started taking upright bass lessons with a young classical bassist who was preparing to audition for the Philadelphia Orchestra (Henry Scott, who shortly thereafter got the gig and has had an illustrious career playing, teaching, and conducting). This was a good idea as it helped me begin to get my technique straight (still working on it) along with wonderful musical guidance from Henry for which I will be forever grateful. After about the first year of study (classical) with Henry, I began also studying concurrently with the great jazz bassist Richard Davis in NY. In between touring with the bands I was in (Rock, Pop, Funk, Fusion), I started freelancing on the Jazz scene in Philadelphia. I also attended for the 5 years of its existence, the amazing International School for the Double Bass, a one month per year school which was directed by Barry Green, then the Principal Bassist of the Cincinatti Symphony, and the director of the International Society of Bassists (I.S.B.). The school was a project of the I.S.B. During that time Barry was writing his classic book: "The Inner Game of Music" so the ISB school was very stimulating on a variety of levels as he explored that material. I even got to play tennis with Barry, and he can hit! We've got to get him on the court sometime with Steve Bailey, another heavy hitter! Now that would make some fun doubles, Barry, Steve, me, and Danny Morris who also can whack the heck out of a tennis ball. I might have to duck and run! But I digress...
    Prior to the gutting of the National Endowment of the Arts during the Reagan years, I received two substantial Jazz study grants that permitted me to study deeply with both Rufus Reid, one of my most important mentors (how many people have that relationship with Rufus!? What an impact he has had just as a mentor. And that's before we even mention his playing and recording. Have you heard his most recent recording, "Hues of a Different Blue"? OMG!) And then, another really important NEA funded apprenticeship with the great Michael Moore.
    For the last couple of years at the I.S.B. school I traded being a student at this predominately classical music school for being the resident jazz instructor.
    There is a lot more to this story as you can imagine, including I attended New England Conservatory, auditioning on Bass, but then transferring into the Composition department, and I got an undergrad and a Masters in Composition. That involved learning to think really slowly and deeply about music. I've been a slow thinker ever since! That also involved relocating from Philly to Boston. During that time I was staying busy freelancing, mostly jazz, mostly on the East Coast, and after I got my degrees, I was invited to join the faculty at Berklee in '86, and even though I teach there, I also consider it to be my post-graduate education which continues to this day! When I moved to Boston I remember thinking that the perfect lifestyle for me would be if I could balance my professional career between Classical, Jazz and Rock & Funk. I'm happy to report that my dream has come true to a large extent, although professionally I play more jazz in the balance than the other two styles, which probably reflects my passion. I am happy to stay involved in all these styles though, because I love them all. I feel that it really helps my teaching too.

    My dual interests in teaching at Berklee are to encourage the student to follow their passion and to support them in addressing imbalances in skill areas so that they gain a global understanding of music, and feel increasingly confident and ready for whatever challenges present themselves as they pursue a musical career.

    At Berklee, all the students have, in essence, declared for the professional draft. Students don't have to leave school to already be pro, they should think and be professional from the point that they go to Berklee for music. They have made that leap, a whole-hog commitment to music, and their admission signals that we think they have a shot. We're gonna give info and coaching and support and point in a direction, but a lot is up to the students to be organized and work hard.

    If there is something that I felt I could say that would be relevant to any or all of the talk bass users, it is that whether we are in school or not, whether we think of ourselves as Pro or not, if we can pick up the instrument frequently, hopefully daily, no matter the duration, and be really awake to what we do when we have it in our hands, we should be able to make steady progress. It is amazing what can happen when we apply steady nurturance to our relationship with music. And if there is anything I could possibly say to give you faith in the results that will come with steady practice, oh, I just said it! OK, now go for it!!!

    Best - Dave

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