John Michael Bradford, Berklee City Music Alumnus Featured on CNN

After a time of great tragedy,  John Michael Bradford was fortunate to discover his musical talent as a trombone player. Hurricane Katrina was threatening his community in Louisiana and he was forced to evacuate his home with his family. They quickly left everything behind and moved to San Antonio, Texas to stay at a family friend’s house.

On his trip, John Michael met Sam Williams, a trombone player that had been a part of the brass band called the Dirty Dozen, and he is now the leader of the band called Big Sam’s Funky Nation. “We were listening to some music in the car, singing along and I pretended to play the trombone,” recalls John Michael. Music was always part of John Michael’s life, as his mom and sister are singers, and his grandfather played the trumpet in high school. At a very challenging time when his family had to uproot their lives, music became a wonderful way to bring everyone together and Sam changed his life forever.

John Michael Bradford: Music and Performance Student 
John Michael Bradford: Berklee Student

Today, John Michael is a celebrated artist in the brass community and he is recognized for his talents. He has performed in New Orleans, Japan, Cuba, Switzerland, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as played at the GRAMMYS, and Carnegie Hall. A former Berklee City Music alumnus, John Michael is soon to complete Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor degree of Music in Performance. His first album came out last year called, “Something Old, Something New,” and he was awarded a full-tuition scholarship.


“Sam was the first time I had been around a trombone, and his sound is so big and warm. It really made me feel good to hear music and that New Orleans funky style.”
John Michael Bradford

John Michael Bradford: Berklee College of Music

Recently, John Michael was featured on CNN in a personal interview, as he recounts his experiences and ability to rise above the tragic events of Katrina “My favorite thing is about playing and making people feel good. It’s incredible because I always think back to Katrina,” recalls John. After the storm passed, John Michael went back to his hometown to nurture his talents and signed up for lessons using his grandfather’s instrument. He wanted to play the trombone and he became one of the youngest members to join the Tipitina’s Foundation. Donald Harrison, a Berklee alum and the Program Director, recognized John’s gift of musical performance. The after-school program is a Berklee City Music Network member and focuses on jazz performance for young artists. Many students that have completed the program have been selected to receive summer scholarships to Berklee City Music’s Five-Week intensive training.

John Michael recalls, “As far back as I can remember, I looked up to Donald and I wanted to follow in his footsteps at Berklee College of Music. Donald taught me everything about jazz and I gained his respect.” At 21-years-old, John Michael has been fortunate to meet and perform with many popular musicians early on in his career. He had the opportunity to work with The Meters guitarist, Leo Nocentelli, a Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, as well as with trumpeters Christian Scott, and study under the guidance of Sean JonesBerklee’s chair of the Brass Department.

Over the years, John Michael has been influenced by other musicians including Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Herbie HancockJustin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. “Bruno is great and he has an amazing ability to do all styles of music that appeals to different audiences. I would love an opportunity to work with him in the future, as well as JT.”  

Music is the universal language that brings people together from around the world. John Michael aspires to become one of the many great jazz performers idolized by others after he graduates Berklee. At a young age, he has meet with many influential people during a difficult circumstance and turn it into a rewarding opportunity. “For me, it was a tragedy turned into a blessing,” John Michael says. “I think music can turn a tragedy into something that’s beautiful because it can touch so many people.”

Learn more about the Berklee City Music Network, and the online educational portal for music teachers called the PULSE.

City Music attends the Berklee Global Summit

Berklee City Music traveled to Valencia, Spain to participate in the Berklee Global Summit. Hosted by Berklee’s Global Initiatives department, the department that organizes Berklee’s International Programs, City Music participated as a department in the college with a domestic network of education partners that offer music education to pre-college youth. Many of the global partners also offer youth programming and are interested in learning more about the City Music methods and Berklee PULSE.


BCM Panel
Berklee City Music Panel at Berklee Global Summit

In addition to Dr. Krystal Banfield and Amanda Lacanilao representing Berklee, Charyn Harris of A Place Called Home and Regina Nixon of Phoenix Conservatory of Music also attended and spoke about their programs and their experience with the Berklee City Music Network. Their reflections are included below:

Charyn Harris, A Place Called Home & Project MuzEd

Inspiring, Impactful and Innovative.  This is what comes to mind in reflecting on my experience of attending the Berklee Global Summit in Valencia, Spain.  It was inspiring to meet so many dynamic and brilliant minds from around the world who have such a strong connection with Berklee. The threads of passion, learning and educating were woven into a beautiful tapestry, swirling deeply into exploring global connections and blended pathways to benefit students beyond their musical development.  We were impacted by unearthing and comparing our universal commonalities challenges, resources and access. In sharing our overview of The Berklee City Music Network, there were many questions of how we leveraged our BCMN partnerships and how the BCMN could expand globally. This brings us to the innovation that Berklee maintains as a creative and caring global thought leader.

As a side note, I’ve been fortunate to have several synergistic connections with the Valencia campus  Three of my students from Los Angeles: Brielle Blount, Heidi Jauregui and Nile Seabrooks have attended the campus.  Brielle also attended the Valencia campus for the graduate program. I am currently hosting a fantastic intern in Los Angeles from Valencia, Paula Piñero Quesada, who is a talented aspiring drummer and educator.  I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the history and the beautiful aesthetics of the city with its blend of cultures and music. The experience is transformational. We provide a unique model of stepping outside of normal boundaries with the intention of creating a connective and sustainable framework of excellence.  Imagine how this mindset empowers students to be not only highly competent musicians, but global and progressive thought leaders. This is important and sacred work, and there’s so much more ahead. Stay tuned…

Regina Nixon, Phoenix Conservatory of Music

As a Berklee City Music Site, we were completely honored to be a part of the 2017 Berklee Global Summit!  It was an amazing experience to be in the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, tour the Berklee Valencia campus, connect with friends and colleagues, and meet new people changing the landscape of music education the globe over.   In our role at the summit, we were there to bring awareness to the tools that the City Music Network brings (professional development, teacher training and PULSE (among others) and to learn about alternate pathways that our students can use to make a post high school education possible.

For me, it was about starting relationships to make those pathways available to our students and increasing my organization’s visibility. But the real impact was about creating opportunities for more Berklee Partners to learn about the magic of the Berklee City Music Network, and help them to envision ways that the tools the network provides can enhance their programs.  It was an excellent opportunity to reflect on what makes this network so special.  From leveraging brand, creating strategic partnerships and collaborations, utilizing the resources of Berklee College of Music, taking our place as a local and national thought leader, and being part of a paradigm shift in music education, and the community of like-minded thinkers; the benefits of being a Berklee City Music Network member are unparalleled.   We were proud to represent and be a part of this fantastic experience of fellowship and join in the global mission of creating quality music education experiences all around the world.

Phoenix Conservatory of Music Awarded National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award

Berklee City Music is pleased to announce that on the evening of November 9, 2017, the Phoenix Conservatory of Music — a longstanding partner of Berklee City Music Network and PULSE — was granted the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award in Washington D.C.

PCM students Marcus Wolf (16), Lourde Childs (13), and Michael Rodriguez (15) were representatives of Phoenix Conservatory of Music at the event, travelling from Arizona to the Nation’s Capital to find out that their organization’s College Prep Program is an awardee for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.  Childs and Rodriguez gave a stunning performance of Man In The Mirror recorded by Michael Jackson on live TV, which was observed by the Phoenix community at a viewing party that evening.

The NAHYP Award is the highest honor in the country that can be given to an out of school arts program.  There were only 12 awardees chosen from a pool of 350 nominations from 46 states.  Recipients of this award are recognized as the most outstanding programs in the country for providing creative youth development programs, exemplifying how arts and humanities outside of school enrich the lives of young people by teaching new skills, nurturing creativity, and building self-confidence.

The Phoenix Conservatory of Music offers a high quality music education to hundreds of students each year, with programs ranging from introductory-level music to advanced private lessons and the most prestigious College Prep Program for contemporary music education in the Arizona — the Berklee College of Music’s City Music and PULSE programs.  The affordable and accessible program has provided a path for students to achieve their dreams in music since its outset in 2010.  Students in grades 4-12 are provided with weekly private lessons, music theory classes, and Popular Music Ensembles. PCM has a graduation rate of 95% (compared to 86% in the local community and 77% in the state), and a 71% rate of students who go to a college or university. 43% of those students go on to study music professionally.

April Network Forum: Community Engagement and Performance Opportunities

Special thanks to Abria Smith, Associate Director for Community Engagement in the Office of Community and Government Relations at Berklee, for sharing your insights at this month’s Forum.

Community Engagement: Gaining Local Support for Your Program

Key Relationships within the Community:

  1. City offices
  2. Other community nonprofits
  3. Neighborhood associations

Fostering these key relationships can offer a variety of benefits, such as:

  1. Gain support for your organization and its mission
  2. Grow your local network
  3. Learn about joint funding opportunities and collaborations
  4. Contribute to the culture of the neighborhood (can help with fundraising)
  5. Help legitimize your programming


Performance Opportunities:

Leveraging Your Brand

The goal is to be approached by others for performance opportunities. So how can you make it known in your community that your students are available, reliable, and professional?

Start by creating an authentic brand. At Berklee, the strength and reputability of our brand opens recognition makes it easier for Berklee to find opportunities. As a member of the City Music Network, your program can leverage its affiliation with Berklee when establishing your brand within your community. (For more information regarding the City Music Network Branding Toolkit, contact Jean Connaughton.)

You can introduce your program to the local community by hosting a public event, like an annual showcase, showing people first-hand how talented your students are. You can even connect it to a charitable cause!

Paid vs. Free Performances

Paid gigs are great, but free performances can also benefit your program. When approached about a volunteer or free performance opportunity consider how the relationship serves your organization, mission, or cause. If the organization is a non-profit, are they paying for everything else, other musicians or special guests?

Recruiting Top Talent for an Event
When engaging celebrities, artists, and local talent to support your program, a little research can help you leverage your appeal.

  1. What other organizations they support and does it align with what you do?
  2. Would partnering with another nonprofit for a particular event make the ask more relevant?
  3. Share what you do, acknowledge their value and don’t be afraid to ask them to donate their time
  4. Consider asking for them to speak instead of perform — they might be more willing to donate time for that
  5. Foster an ongoing relationship instead of a one-time ask

About the Network Forum

Each month, members from around the Berklee City Music Network® gather to discuss topics and best practices helping you to leverage City Music resources in support of your local program. To inquire about participating in next month’s Network Forum, email

March Network Forum: Engaging Local Alumni and Building a Volunteer Network

Special thanks to Vanessa Bouvry from Berklee Alumni Affairs for leading discussions about engaging local alumni.

Engaging Local Alumni: What You Need to Know

Berklee has 6 major cities with large concentrations of Berklee Alumni:

  1. Boston, MA
  2. New York City, NY
  3. Nashville, TN
  4. Miami, FL
  5. Los Angeles, CA
  6. San Francisco, CA

In each of these cities, there is a Berklee representative responsible for the region and a group of Alumni Volunteers. Regions outside of these 6 major cities may have Alumni Ambassadors.

Interested in contacting a Berklee alum to share an opportunity or information about your organization? Contact

Engage alumni by providing win-win opportunities in which they can network with each other and elevate your organization and their career, all while giving back. Some suggested opportunities include:

  1. Hosting events
  2. Participating on panels
  3. Being paired with youth as a mentor
  4. Coaching
  5. Engineering
  6. Supporting music in schools
  7. Supporting music in the community

If you already work with an alum, ask them to reach out to their personal network to engage more people in support of your organization.

Building a Volunteer Network: Get Personal

Building your organization’s volunteer network should be a two-way process—your volunteers are helping to support your mission and organizational goals, and you should be just as in-tune with their needs.

  1. Give them roles that are appropriate for their qualifications and goals. Don’t give them a job they don’t want.
  2. Acknowledge their contributions! Send a personal thank you letter, a special note on their birthday, etc.
  3. Be available. Make sure your volunteers know they can reach you by email, phone, or text.

About the Network Forum

Each month, members from around the Berklee City Music Network® gather to discuss topics and best practices helping you to leverage City Music resources in support of your local program. To inquire about participating in next month’s Network Forum, email

PULSE Teacher Spotlight: Ed Sublett

About Ed Sublett:
Ed Sublett wears a lot of hats. He is a husband and father of three; a musician, composer and audio engineer; and a school administrator and teacher. A native of Boston, MA he relocated to Knoxville,TN with his family in 2012 and began working at The Joy of Music School shortly after arriving. His primary instrument is upright bass. He performs live with a variety of local musicians and lends his skills in the studio as well. He teaches private lessons on bass and guitar.

About the The Joy of Music School:
The Joy of Music School is a nonprofit organization providing free music lessons for children who cannot afford them. All teachers are volunteers. The school provides instruments, music, and supplies at no cost to students, ages ranging from 6-18 years old. Their mission is to provide a quality music education for financially disadvantaged, at-risk youth. Among their many guiding values are to put the students first, transform lives through mentorship, help develop minds, and build character through music. They set high standards that reward commitment, respect and accountability, providing challenges that foster discipline and self esteem.

What are some of your favorite resources on the PULSE site?
The Study Room is extremely comprehensive. It provides a lot of building blocks and is a great way to establish a baseline of knowledge with a class comprised of students who come in with different levels of knowledge and aptitude.

I’ve used the Jam Room quite a bit with my private bass students. The Jam Room reminds me of when I was 14 with my first electric bass. I used to sit in front of my boom box, press play, and jam along to all my favorite bands. Of course, you can do quite a bit more using PULSE’s Notation Mixer.

I take advantage of a lot of the Practice Room resources as well. I’ve practically worn out the Beginning Scales and Arpeggios book with my students.

I also have found a variety of uses for Noteflight. Everything from helping my students transcribe to creating my own unique exercises that I can share as homework with my students.
PULSE is great to use on a smart board. I hope to expand our PULSE usage this year by offering a PULSE Theory Lab for our teenage students.

How are your classrooms set up for technology use?
We have a large conference room with a laptop and smart board that is used for most of our group classes. We have a small lab for our MPET (Multimedia Production and Engineering for Teens) which is set up with six DAW workstations.We have a small compliment of laptops which teachers can use by request in the lesson studios. Each studio is equipped with a pair of powered computer speakers for use with laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

Learn more about PULSE, and follow @BerkleePULSE.

Guest Post: Performing for Hiatus Kaiyote

“My experience as the piano player for the Hiatus Kaiyote ensemble was truly a unique one. I had the responsibility of arranging Borderline With my Atoms for several members of the band. Given that Hiatus Kaiyote is known for their extremely tricky time signatures and groove manipulations, arranging a song like that was a daunting task to say the least!

After having spent several hours writing everything down, it was time to rehearse the actual song. I had listened to each segment of Borderline so many times before to get each part down that it naturally was up to me to direct the cues. During the rehearsals, everything went really well for that song, but I became pretty nervous when it was time to actually perform for the band. It was such a surreal experience seeing the band right in front of me and directing the cuts and cues that they themselves had written!

I have to thank the band for doing such a great job with the arrangement and representing City Music in front of such a prestigious band so well. The hours of work put into all three of the songs will be long remembered, and I believe that my musically oriented leadership skills have improved a great deal based on my participation in this fantastic ensemble.”

– Alex Flavell


Five-Week Alumni Advice: Henry Oyekanmi Jr.

Henry just graduated Berklee College of Music after attending the Five-Week Summer Performance Program and being awarded a full-tuition scholarship to Berklee at the Scholarship Concert.


Do you have any tips for this year’s incoming Five-Week students?
Stay humble. Everybody in the program is talented. Stay focused, and go to every class. Remember that not everybody gets an opportunity to be in the seat you’re in. Take full advantage of the opportunity. Talk to people and become friends with them. The more you socialize and meet people, it will be beneficial in the future.

To read more about Henry, click here.

Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center: The Paragon, Vol 1

This is a guest post from Lizzie Zink, a rising senior at BCMN site Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in Columbus, Ohio.

The Paragon Logo Color

The Paragon, Vol. 1: Someday We’ll All Be Free is a compilation album created by the students at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center.

The Paragon, Vol. 1: Someday We’ll All Be Free album tackles many of the controversial topics that are at the forefront of our national discourse. Issues such as racial stereotypes, depression, youth violence, suicide, police brutality and identity are discussed through the musical journey this project takes you on. The ideas expressed in these songs are an accurate representation of the challenges that many youth around the country face on a daily basis. It was our goal to address these songs artistically in a variety of genres. Hip-Hop, Singer Songwriter, Spoken word, Reggae, and Neo Soul are all represented on the project.

The musical pieces represented on the album are mix of self composed works and covers. The pieces assembled were chosen by the students to create a comprehensive narrative that emotionally take the listener into their world in a way that very few think pieces or media reports can. In fact, we often refer to the project as an audio publication or soundtrack to our life’s movie because the relevance of the songs carry an authenticity that traditional descriptions don’t capture. The album features covers of artists such as Gil Scott Heron, Birdy, Nina Simone, and Donny Hathaway, along with many brilliant originals. The depth of the lyrics written by my peers provides clarity of the situations that we struggle with and their articulation of a circumstance and the feeling is truly inspiring. The students featured on this album are some of Fort Hayes’ best and brightest musicians and have a desire to use their gift to express the need for awareness and action in society today.

Fixing society’s flaws is no easy task, but if we raise our voices together as one, we will be heard. Throughout the creation of this project, we constantly reminded ourselves that every individual has a voice and because of that we are confident that our voices will be heard amongst the noise.

In short, the ideas expressed within the album are presented by students to students and to those struggling to overcome obstacles or those watching someone struggle… which ultimately includes everyone. These are universal messages that can provide assurance that a person is not alone in their suffering and that there is indeed hope in our world.

We created The Paragon to inspire hope, inspire dialogue and spark a fire to change the world. We lifted our voices, and now it’s the time for them to be heard so that everybody knows that the revolution is starting. “The revolution will not be televised… The revolution will be live”, says WaTeasa Freeman in “The Revolution”. This revolution starts with us, and we extend our hand for you to join us in order to ensure that Someday We’ll All Be Free.

The Paragon Vol. 1: Someday We’ll All Be Free is available on iTunes, Tidal, Amazon Music, & Spotify

-Lizzie Zink

Lizzie Link


For more information on The Paragon, Vol. 1: Someday We’ll All Be Free contact: Tony Anderson, Ph.D. at
The Paragon, Vol. 1: Someday We’ll All Be Free Interview playlist.

Network Chapter Series: Northeast Chapter

The City Music Network is made of nine regional chapters established across North America. Each chapter meets monthly to discuss current events,  opportunities for collaboration, and deepen their relationships with each other. This first blog post is kicking of a get-to-know-your-network series which will introduce all 47 sites in our network. This Chapter Feature will focus on the Northeast Chapter, made up of five City Music Network sites.

City Music Boston at Cafe 939Berklee City Music Boston – Boston, MA
City Music Boston—the founding site of the City Music Network—provides music education programs and scholarship opportunities to 1,200 underserved students annually throughout Greater Boston. With year-round instruction, expert faculty, and a comprehensive curriculum based around Berklee PULSE, City Music Boston gives students the tools and support they need to reach their full potential.
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Boys & Girls Harbor – New York, NY
The mission of Boys & Girls Harbor is to empower children and their families to become full, productive participants in society through education, cultural enrichment, and social services.
Website | Facebook

Renaissance Youth Center – Bronx, NY
RYC empowers at-risk inner city youth to fully maximize their potential as productive and responsible members of society by offering dynamic, team-building education, music and sports programs while instilling the importance of building strong communities.
Website | Facebook

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) – Newark, NJ
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) is the artistic, cultural, educational, and civic center of New Jersey. Part of NJPAC’s mission is to enhance and transform the lives of children and families through arts education.
Website | Facebook

Dixon Hall Music School – Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
Now in our 37th year, Dixon Hall Music School is a “second home” to over 300 neighbourhood youth per week, offering 21 different instruments and classes for as little as $3.00 per lesson. We develop leadership skills and build inner confidence through the world of music.
Website | Facebook

Check back next week when we will be feature two more chapters: the Mid-Atlantic and Central Chapters.