Jammin’ with the Dean

Bobby McFerrin. Dionne Warwick. Ray Charles. Steve Miller. KISS. These are just a few of the artists with whom renowned jazz pianist Shelly Berg has worked. Before serving as the dean of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, Berg performed, recorded, arranged and orchestrated for and with many greats in the jazz and rock worlds.

In addition to managing the prestigious music school and performing around the world, Dean Berg is also currently working on a project with another group of talented musicians – his students.

“Jammin’ with the Dean” is a discussion series that Dean Berg initiated last year. These sessions, held fairly frequently since he took the position, allow music students to talk with their dean, ask him questions and play music with him. When conducting this series of events, students see him not only as an administrator and educator, but also as a musician.

“I want to get to know as many students as I can, musically and personally,” Berg said.

Each session is designed a bit differently. This Friday’s event will be a piano and keyboard forum during which the dean hopes students will bring music to play on the two pianos. He wants to listen to their ideas and music, demonstrate techniques and talk with students about “things that are universal in music.” By focusing on a different aspect of the music school in each session, “I get to meet lots of students from across the school,” he said.

Dean Berg also hopes the “Jammin’ with the Dean” series will help students in their musical studies and beyond.

“What they study is just the entryway to a whole universe,” Berg said. “There’s a power they can unleash as a musician, a force they can be in the world. I really love the opportunity to interact with the students.”

Dean Berg’s work has been on television and in films and his 2005 original album Blackbird reached No. 1 on Jazzweek’s U.S. jazz radio charts. He served as the chair of the department of Jazz Studies at the Thornton School of Music and is a former president of the International Association of Jazz Educators.

If You Go:

1/23/09 from 1:25pm – 2:20pm Clarke Recital Hall (Piano/Keyboard Forum)

2/20/09 from 9:05am – 9:55am Clarke Recital Hall (Music Business Forum)