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Episode 115 – Interview – John Ramsay, Berklee College Of Music

Episode 115 – Interview – John Ramsay, Berklee College of Music

The Berklee College of Music is ubiquitous with musicians worldwide. When we think of the great institutions of education along with the world’s greatest musicians Berklee is routinely mentioned in both instances. However, with any topic of conversation that conjures legendary tales there are as many negative connotations as positive. In this episode we cover everything you’d want to know about the school from a gentleman who has been a part of the faculty for 36 years, John Ramsay.

Ramsay, a Massachusetts native, was a self-taught drummer who soon realized that if he was going to make a living as a musician he’d have to seriously learn his craft. Through meeting Max Roach at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst he was ultimately steered toward private lessons with master drummer/instructor, Alan Dawson. With Dawson he learned the legendary methods associated with Ted Reed’s ‘Syncopation’, soloing with Stone’s ‘Stick Control’, and Alan’s creation of the ‘Rudimental Ritual’. After several years Ramsay became the second drummer and tour manager in Art Blakey’s big band. Between this experience along with side-man duties with many other legendary jazz artists Ramsay bolstered his resume leading to his hiring at the Berklee College of Music in 1982.

John’s list of Berklee credentials includes copious classroom and applied teaching along with an administrative stint as chair of the percussion department. In our chat he describes exactly what the aspiring student should prepare themselves with including knowing the 26 American rudiments, chart reading, styles, and more. He then details what the audition process is like. We also spend a good amount of time discussing the acceptance process and the different types of scholarships and financial aid that is available. We then talk about the many different degree paths that are available including the new graduate programs. Applied lessons, the celebrity teachers, and how students can request them are then covered. John then talks about the required classes, labs, etc. Then we finish with a discussion about the state-of-the-art facilities (recording studios, practice rooms, performance venues, media center, and more). After the Berklee talk has concluded we conclude the show by running John through the maze that is the DWG Rorschach Test.

As mentioned during the show you can keep up with John and Henrique de Almeida are doing by visiting the web site:

You can buy John’s books by visiting Amazon:
Art Blakey’s Jazz Messages:…words=john+ramsay
The Drummer’s Complete Vocabulary as taught by Alan Dawson:…words=john+ramsay

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