Conventions & Awards

Berklee City Music Network Conference – The Challenge of Change

IMG_4817_By Amy Bojanowski By Diana C. Hereld of Pathways in Music

On Monday, November 3, The Berklee City Music Network Conference kicked off with a morning of presentations and discussions with youth development leaders Libby Chiu and Jonathan Zeichner, while music performers/educators/advocates Kevin Eubanks, Terri Lyne Carrington, Sheila E, Patrice Rushen, Lalah Hathaway, and Donald Harrison shared insights on working with young musicians. Robert Gould and Laura Padilla, scholarship recipients from Berklee College of Music, delivered the keynote presentation. The afternoon featured breakout sessions for music educators and arts administrators.

Conference attendees were treated to a master class at the GRAMMY Museum – arguably one of the highlights of the entire conference. Student bands from five Berklee City Music Network sites were coached by celebrities including Ashley Rodriguez, Kenny Lattimore, Shoshana Bean, Steve Bailey, and Courtney Harrell. Each band then performed for an enthusiastic audience and were critiqued by clinicians Lalah Hathaway and Nick Cooper. A final performance featuring students hand-picked from the earlier ensembles (with cameos from Lalah Hathaway, Kenny Lattimore, and Donald Harrison) concluded the event.


Day two boasted an impressive list of music industry legends, arts educators, and non-profit leaders and advisors. Ron Weisner led a panel discussion featuring Bill Withers, Gladys Knight, Bobby Colomby, Tommy LiPuma, Ray Chew, and Ricky Minor. This group of industry veterans discussed the changing landscape of the music industry, the important role of teachers and mentors in their own lives, and encouraged teachers today to nurture a student’s talent while helping them determine the best route for that passion. The day also featured discussions and tours specifically geared toward music educators, plus presentations and workshops for board members and arts administrators. Conference attendees (many of whom are also practicing musicians) and local Berklee alumni converged at the end of the day for a jam session filled with eclectic performances.


The conference concluded with a day full of inspiring and thought-provoking discussions by noted music educators from throughout the country, including Charly Schwartz, Bob Smiland, Myka Miller, Tony White, Mark Slavkin, Milton Ruffin, and guest speakers from the Berklee City Music Network. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus also stopped by for tours and demonstrations. Educators were encouraged to focus on partnerships with other organizations and schools, and were sure to leave Los Angeles feeling inspired to further their work with young musicians.


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