Chapter 4 AC: So, definitely I agree. It's not black and white and gotten less black and white. The difference between teaching at NEC and Berklee in 1982 was much starker than it is today. FB: Can you talk...obviously you are talking from personal experience. AC: Yeah, I went from being a grad student at NEC to a teacher here in '81. NEC was completely incoherent with the good and bad sides of that. I mean you could go from one class to another and they are speaking completely different languages. Joe Maneri, George Russell and the theory department, all to whom I was exposed. FB: Microtones, lydian and (straight) AC: They all had different ideas of what the future of music should be, what parameters of music it should be based on, what nature intended. They all made claims about that. FB: How's a young person supposed to get his arms around that? AC: Joe Maneri is like, "the natural evolution of music is the 72-tone octave, with six steps between every..." FB: (Ezra Senz) AC: George Russell is like, "mother nature gave me the lydian chromatic concept. It's all based on the way things really are." He literally said that. Robert Cogan was like, "music theory has ridiculously excluded this whole aspect of the nature of sound and acoustics and I am going to correct this huge mistake." Everyone of those things is very convincing and not wrong but they're just different interpretations of what could be paid attention to in music. They all respect each other. They like each other. FB: Which prophet does one follow? AC: Robert Cogan is still going strong thankfully. Joe Maneri and George Russell passed away very recently and they respected one another and not just civil but they enjoyed being in a diverse environment. But for an undergrad, a freshman, what do you do with all that information, hearing that from you're collegues? FB: How did you process those two aspects of your education? AC: Well, I went to a university, Arizona State, where I got pretty much the standard college music theory and composition major education. We studied Palestrina- and Bach-styled counterpoint and wrote chorals and learned all the history of tonal music from basically Bach through Chopin up to Wagner. FB: You would've gotten aspects of all of that from both of these schools, I suppose. AC: And several semesters of twentieth-century theory and analysis going up to Stockhausen and Henry Cowell and Cage and exposed to all these modern ideas in music, Bulez, twelve-tone stuff, set theory and all the main academic things that happen. There was a good solid jazz educator there, from the Jamey Aeboersold clinics, Dan Hurley, went on to North Texas to be the jazz piano teacher there. Teaching us chord scale theory, similar to Berklee, how you figure out what notes to play on changes and improve class and small ensembles. I got a real solid Bb mainstream above average grounding in all that stuff. The stuff at NEC didn't throw me off and I was also able to learn the Berklee system quickly and absorb it quickly. I did not know movable 'do' solfege when I started here. I learned it, I distinctly remember practicing it on the street corner. I remember absorbing all the details of this roman numeral analysis, chord scale theory system. It was new names for things I already knew, but also really good insights about things I'd never had before. I'd never thought about the fact that all those chords come from the relative minor and all have this in common. Nobody pointed that out to me before and it hadn't really dawned on me. I sort of felt it without naming it. And then my hearing improved and my musicianship improved a lot in the first four years teaching here. I doubled my musical ability, from teaching. Thirty hours a week, the black board and the piano and ear training and harmony and counterpoint too and classical harmony and ensembles a little bit. You know, it's just music all day long and trying to figure out what students didn't know and help them learn it. It just made me sharper. FB: You learned by doing it over and over again. AC: ...and conversations with collegues. I think a lot people who taught at Berklee in those days, a lot them, my collegues, were hired shortly after graduating. They were top students. Two years on the road and then they taught here. A few them had been out for a decade or so doing really great musical things, Bruce Thomas, a pianist here, for example, was hired the same year as me. Dave Weigert, drummer, had gone to Berklee. I think two or three of us had not gone to Berklee and about eight of us had Berklee of the group I was hired with who taught classroom stuff. We had five days a week, or maybe it was four days a week of meetings where Ted Pease, Alex Ulanowsky and others, mainly those two, would teach us the system. We would do mock teaching and they critique our teaching and say, "No, you're not explaining that well." It was intensive. It was really getting thrown into the deep end with the workload, the low pay and the very great mentoring. FB: These are the guys who were the masters of the system, Alex, Ted and whoever else you mentioned. AC: They created it. It was basically Alex and Ted. They taught us 90% of what we did. Later I had experience with John LaPorta, similar kind of thing.