Youth Gospel Choir With The Staple Singers


Pictured is Grammy award winning artist Mavis Staples of The Staple Singers

In celebration of Black History Month, Berklee PULSE will feature assets from our Take Me To The River Elective course. This curriculum, designed by Dr. Dru Davidson, Fine Arts Advisor for Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee, highlights scenes from the award-winning 2014 documentary film, directed by Martin Shore, Take Me To The River. By focusing on the contemporary music of Memphis, Tennessee and the Mississippi Delta teachers have access to the original mix-tracks from the soundtrack masters and resources that engage students in curricular activities that inspire creativity and collaboration.

The featured lesson this month, “Youth Gospel Choir With The Staple Singers“, presents students an opportunity to discuss the socio-political factors that gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in connection with the overall impact The Staple Singers’ music had on this movement. By exploring the tune “Wish I Had Answered”, written by Roebuck “Pops” Staples, students will connect history to the music they are learning.

Download the “Wish I Had Answered” arrangement by George Russell Jr. for youth Gospel Choir, soloists, and rhythm section.


City Music Alumna Q and A: Gerami Groover

Gerami Groover was awarded a Berklee City Music full-tuition scholarship to the Five-Week Summer Performance Program, as well as, a City Music College Scholarship to Berklee. She has continued to take advantage of the opportunities City Music and Berklee has to offer.

pic1When did you graduate from Berklee Valencia and what projects have you been pursuing since?
I received my master in Music Technology Innovation from Berklee Valencia on July 14, 2014.” Since then “I have been teaching full-time as a music educator within the Boston area.”

What were you doing in South Africa?
“I recently traveled to Swaziland, a kingdom located inland of South Africa, via the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative as their first reverse exchange fellow. I was in Swaziland for two weeks during the month of August providing and organizing a two week formal music workshop program entitled Emandla Emculo (Power of Music) for 150 Swazi youth (ages 8-18) in the town of Lobamba.”

What takeaways do you have from your experience in South Africa?
“There were so many takeaways from my experience in Swaziland, one being understanding fully the power of music and the impact it can have across cultural barriers, and the importance of providing access to arts education to more communities regardless of socio-economic status.”

Tell us about what it means to be chosen for the Mandela Washington for Young African Leaders Initiative- Reverse Exchange Fellowship?
“The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has been active for less than five years now, each year sending a cohort of around 1,000 young professionals and aspiring leaders from sub-saharan africa, whom are believed to be the next leaders of their country to the USA. These inspiring group of young people partake in a six-week residence at a US university and work closely with the Obama administration in building international relations and networking with local business, civic, and political leaders here in the USA.

The question was asked to President Obama during his meeting with the YALI’15 fellows, how can this initiative be a proper exchange if only Africans are coming to America, we need Americans to do the same and partake in an initiative here in Africa. As a result, President Obama and his administration created the Reverse Exchange fellowship, American professionals that would be identified and recommended by YALI fellows as individuals who would be great ambassadors and carry out the vision that President Obama has for YALI but in reverse, American professionals establishing international relations with young african leaders and creating an initiative that will continue annually. I was selected to be a part of the first American cohort (only 8 were selected) and I was the first American to be awarded and complete an initiative.”

What’s next on the horizon for you, and what are your ultimate career goals?
“I am currently continuing my partnership with YALI, specifically continuing my works with two YALI fellows from Swaziland. Working together to address some of the challenges facing providing music and arts education to the country of Swaziland. I will be returning back to Swaziland to organize the second year of Emandla Emculo Youth Music Program. I am expanding my work that has been done with YALI and continuing the vision and initiative to other areas of the globe, teaming up with artists from Latin America, Europe and sub-saharan Africa via my project Gerami Groover Presents.”

Read more about Groover and her experience with City Music and Berklee.

Network Lunch at NAMM!

Hello from NAMM!  NAMM is a trade show that stands for National Association of Music Merchants. Every year it is held in Anaheim, California at the Convention Center with upwards of 100,000 people in attendance. For the past three years, Berklee City Music staff have attended in order to meet with industry partners that can help benefit our City Music Network Members and School Districts.


Every year that we have gone to NAMM, City Music has hosted an annual lunch for Network Members. This year, five members where represented: Phoenix Conservatory of Music, A Placed Called Home, RYTMO, The Roots of Music and Notes for Notes.

The lunch is always a great opportunity for everyone to connect and give updates on new projects and initiatives they are working on.  It is also a place to start collaboration, as many conversations at the lunch, much like at the Berklee City Music Summit, have lead to cross member projects.

L to R: Joey Arreguin (RYTMO), Lee Whitmore (Berklee City Music), Regina Nixon (Phoenix Conservatory of Music), Charyn Harris (A Place Called Home), Raymond Jacobs (Notes for Notes), Alex Kies (Notes for Notes), Clint Valladares (Berklee India Exchange), Arin Canbolat (Berklee City Music), John Bigus (Berklee PULSE), Morgan Steward (The Roots of Music), Mike Anderson (RYTMO) and Angela Han (Berklee City Music)

At this year’s lunch we received updates from our Vice President for Education Outreach, Lee Whitmore, on the Grammy Music Education Coalition, The Boston Conservatory and Berklee merger and news on our online music resources, the Berklee PULSE Music Method, that is now open to the public and will be translated into Spanish in the coming year.

We also heard from each Member on news from their organization.

  • Phoenix Conservatory recently moved locations to a larger facility that will better accommodate their growing student population and program offerings.
  • RYTMO recently launched a new partnership with Learn 4 Life charter school in Anaheim where they are teaching course levels 1 and 2 and will soon be implementing levels 3 and 4.
  • The night before A Placed Called Home and Charyn Harris were honored with the She Rocks Motivator Award from the Women’s International Music Network. Charyn is the conductor of the Music Program at APCH.
  • Note for Notes has recently opened three new studios with their partners at Boys and Girls Clubs in Cleveland, Memphis and New Orleans and plan to open another five new locations in 2017.
  • The Roots of Music is also looking at expanding their program with moving into a new location and creating an arts campus in New Orleans with other partners, including another Network member in New Orleans, Tipitina’s Foundation.

And what lunch would be complete without a traditional selfie?  Check out our Instagram to see it.

L to R: Charyn Harris (A Place Called Home), Sandy Jordan (Casio), Angela Han (Berklee City Music), Regina Nixon (Phoenix Conservatory of Music), Joey Arreguin (RYTMO), Stephen Schmidt (Casio), Arin Canbolat (Berklee City Music), Clint Valladares (Berklee India Exchange), Morgan Stewart (The Roots of Music), Lee Whitmore (Berklee City Music), and Bev Tryon (Berklee College of Music)

After lunch we headed from the Marriott to the Convention Center to say hello and thank you to our friends and partners at Casio. The Casio Musical Instruments Division has been a fantastic partner over the past two years, donating more than 150 keyboards to Network Members, including those who attended the lunch.

If you plan to attend NAMM next year in 2018, please make sure we know so we can see you at the lunch and connect!

Berklee Partners with IDB to Expand Music Education Opportunities in Latin America

From Berklee News: “Berklee Latino, Berklee’s Spanish-language program, returned to Bogota, Colombia, to partner with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Berklee/IDB partnership is the first initiative that employs Berklee’s renowned curriculum via three synchronized components: Berklee Latino clinics, Berklee PULSE® Music Method, and specialized Berklee MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The partnership will also allow for the translation of selected material into Spanish and integration of fully licensed contemporary Latin music.”

Berklee Latino photo by Pamela Hersch-1.jpg
Final concert from a Berklee Latino program Photo: Pamela Hersch

“Coupled with the training of the teachers to use PULSE and providing computers to the local schools, we are creating an unprecedented opportunity for thousands of young people across the continent to experience music education at no cost,” said Lee Whitmore, Berklee’s vice president for education outreach and social entrepreneurship. PULSE will release translated material come September 1st, 2017. In addition, tunes and grooves will be created focusing on the rich cultural diversity of musical styles that originated in South America. Students and educators will have an opportunity to explore an individual country’s musical heritage through creative lesson material and interactive online learning tools.

Read the full article by Brian Gonzalez here.

Software in the classroom with MAGIX

mgxThe Berklee City Music Network is fortunate to be able to partner with some outstanding companies. One such company is MAGIX, a leader in multimedia software. With MAGIX, both beginners and professionals alike can create, design, edit, archive or present videos, music, photos, graphics and websites. Plus, with user-friendly, state of the art technology, MAGIX allows for seamless sharing of multimedia files over the internet. With a passion for innovation, MAGIX has certainly made a mark in the media, music and tech worlds, having won over 1000 awards!

grafik-420-arrangement-mx-intMAGIX can also be used in the classroom to teach media literacy, a subject which is becoming essential to practically all future careers. Students can learn the basics of things like video editing and production, sound design, digital audio editing and publishing, web design, and photo editing, just to name a few. MAGIX products allow educators maximum time saving through tight lessons with quick results. As a member of the Berklee City Music Network, you and your organization are eligible for a discount on MAGIX software of up to 80% off! A copy of a photo ID and a document with a valid seal or original letterhead from your educational institution will need to be provided. To learn more about MAGIX and to take advantage of this offer, please visit:

As always, BCMN strives to offer its partners the utmost in resources, products and materials from the latest and greatest across the music industry. Thanks to generous companies like MAGIX, BCMN is able to uphold this commitment.

12 Issues of Billboard for just $12!

Whether you’re involved in the music industry or not, you’ve likely heard of Billboard. Billboard is the music industry’s flagship media brand. With in-depth reporting, analysis, unprecedented access to the hottest new artists, world-class photography and video, plus feature exclusives, Billboard is the definitive source for music news.

The Berklee City Music Network is proud to partner with Billboard, who has played a helpful role in supporting BCMN and promoting news for the Network and its partners. Billboard has generously made bb_logopromotional offers to the Network in the past and has agreed to do so again. Starting today, Billboard is pleased to offer Berklee City Music Network Members 12 print & digital issues for only $12! Use this link to take advantage of the offer: And to get a glimpse into the kind of exciting content Billboard provides, check out their site at

Make sure to keep up with the Berklee City Music Blog and monthly Newsletter to continue to take advantage of amazing offers from our generous partners like Billboard!

BANDED and Ghost Box Orchestra: an interview with Nazli Rex

About Ghost Box Orchestra:

Ghost Box Orchestra is a psychedelic, mainly instrumental, Boston-based band who infuse western soundtracks with a desert rock and surf reverb tinge. Their songs speak in subtle whispers and fuzz-freaked panoramas full of stomping rhythms and hazy shoegazey guitar slabs.

Involvement with BANDED and PULSE: 


Their epic composition, Desert Lights, has been featured in three exclusive project-based composition lesson plans on PULSE. As the film, BANDED, captures their creative approach to designing an intense auditory aroma, students and teachers gain an understanding that musical inspiration transpires through no fixed medium.


We had the opportunity to chat with Nazli Rex, keyboardist and percussionist of GBO, about her musical background and experience with the band.

PULSE: What was your musical training like growing up? Influences? Role models?

Nazli Rex: I started piano lessons in second grade. Apparently my mom heard me banging on the piano (my older sister was taking lessons at the time) and wanted to hear something more musical. In fifth grade I picked up the trumpet and then in 10th grade I started learning the guitar. In high school, I was in marching band, concert band, and jazz band, but I listened to everything from the Beatles, to grunge, to swing, to classical, and everything in between. I equally loved Nirvana, Bille Holiday, Debussy, and Led Zeppelin. Role models for me were (as cheesy as it sounds) my band leaders. They lead the show and made it fun.

PULSE: How did the band start and how did members come together?

NR: Jeremy (lead guitar and vocalist) wrote the majority of our songs by himself in the beginning. He approached me after hearing that I was looking for a new project. It took a while to find all the right players. We auditioned several drummers before finding Marty. Chris (rhythm guitar) was an acquaintance of Jeremy’s and our original bass player was also a friend of a friend. Once we all got together, it gelled. Since then, our music was derived either from jam sessions or from one member bringing in a riff that led the song in the direction it needed to go.

PULSE: How did the name “Ghost Box Orchestra” come about?

NR: Jeremy wanted to use the idea of a ghost box in our name. Each band member brought a characteristic sound to the overall group and since, electronically, we were creating so many different sounds with our instruments, we added orchestra. To me, we were bringing together sounds beyond the traditional timbres of our instruments to communicate.

PULSE: What are some positive and negative factors while striving to produce a musical product with other creative musicians? 

NR: I personally like to write music collaboratively. I am not a songwriter. Every once in a while, I come up with a little melodic line, but I don’t know how to develop it. When you’re in a group of people with all different songwriting skills, your ideas can take shape progressively. It may not always go in the direction you expect, but since I deeply loved the aesthetic of my friends’ music with whom I played, I was happy with the result.

PULSE: During the BANDED film, you composed a song based on an image. What are some other sources of inspiration or, rather, conceptual techniques you all use while composing?

NR: Jam sessions and riffs or melodic lines helped to shape a lot of our music. Some songs were composed by an individual but then each member put their own take on their instrument’s part.

PULSE: I’ve noticed a member of the band has left since the filming of BANDED. How have new members redirected the overall band’s sound or collaboration, if any?

NR: It definitely changed the sound in subtle ways. Each person has their own set of influences and that in turn affected the band’s sound. Dennis is very much into post-rock and avant-garde jazz and a lot of our songs had uncommon structure during his time with us. Zac, our current bass player, listens to much heavier music, and brought a darker, grittier sound to the songs.

PULSE: What is next for GBO?

NR: Good question! No big plans currently.

You can check out the Ghost Box Orchestra’s website for music and upcoming events.

Free Trial of Flipcause, a Unique Fundraising Solution


The Berklee City Music Network aims to provide its partners with numerous resources, including opportunities to partner with great companies like Flipcause. Flipcause helps non-profits achieve fundraising goals through an integrated system that uses a variety of tools.

Flipcause provides intuitive software that will make your fundraising efforts a breeze! With Flipcause’s user friendly, easy to navigate interface, you will spend less time on tedious tasks and more time focusing on your organization’s cause.  Check out this video below to learn more about Flipcause.

Flipcause has a proven track record for helping non-profits meet and even exceed their fundraising goals. For example, Hilary Palanza, founder of Palanza Dance, an arts organization in San Francisco, says, “Flipcause has been a great way for my dance company to raise more donations, sell tickets to our performances, and learn about our supporters—all from a single place.”

As a generous offer, Flipcause is extending a 30-day FREE trial to all Berklee City Music Network Partners. To take advantage of this offer, please contact Flipcause’s Director of Community Development, Derrick Cagaanan at

In addition, on January 17th at 1pm EST there will be a group webinar where Network members can view a live demo of Flipcause.  If you would like to take part in this webinar, you can register using this link:

We know Flipcause is sure to provide results which will not disappoint. Check out everything Flipcause has to offer and learn more about their product on their site:




Register for NAMM 2017!

As many of you may know, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) will be namm-show-registrationholding their 2017 trade show in Anaheim, CA from January 19th to the 22nd. This event is a fantastic opportunity to connect with a variety of music industry exhibitors and to explore different products and brands. There are also educational sessions and networking events. Plus, who doesn’t want to go to sunny, Southern California in the middle of January? Luckily, NAMM has generously offered a discount to all Berklee City Music Network partners. Register by January 4th and receive a 4-day pass for just $25! Use this link and the instructions on the right to complete the registration before the 4th of January. (

Also, if you ARE attending NAMM, there are two important events to remember while there:

  • First, there will be a Network Lunch for all Network partners. It will take place on Saturday, January 21st between 12 and 2pm. More specifics to follow but please make sure to RSVP to by December 16th in order to attend the lunch.namm-lunch
  • Second, there will be a Berklee College of Music Alumni Hang on January 19th from 6 to 7:30 pm at the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort. Use this link to register:

Hope to see you all at NAMM in January 2017!



Casio Master Class with Pianist, Eldar Djangirov

casio_eldar-djangirovThis week, Thursday, December 8th, The Jazz Composition Department, its chair, Eric Gould, and Berklee City Music are excited to host Casio America, Inc. at a Master Class with pianist, Eldar Djangirov. The event will include a performance by Djangirov, a Q&A session, and a student performance and critique. Come by the Steve Heck Room (1140 Boylston) at 3pm on Thursday to check it out.

This past September, Casio welcomed New York based pianist, Eldar Djangirov to its Artist Program, which provides electronic, musical instruments to aspiring musical artists. Berklee City Music is proud to host this Master Class with Casio, as the consumer electronic business has generously donated several keyboards to the City Music Network.

Djangirov is an accomplished pianist and composer from Kansas City by way of the former Soviet Union, who has played at jazz festivals and toured extensively across the world. In 2008, Djangirov was nominated for a Grammy for his album, “Re-imagination,” which includes bold, original songs along with jazz classics that the artist recreates with a sophisticated and fresh new take. The young pianist has been described by the New York Times as, “a blend of musical intelligence, organizational savvy, enthusiasm and prowess that was all the more impressive for seeming so casual… an ebullient impressionist.”

Check out Djangirov’s musical prowess in this video below and make sure to catch him live this Thursday afternoon from 3 to 5pm!