I am lucky to have two beautiful subjects to share with students on the Valencia Campus: health and wellness; and general psychology. Could anything be more important than learning and applying the basic principles of leading a happy and healthy life? Both teaching and counseling share strategies and techniques such as using reflection, self-awareness, practicing, organizing, planning, making proper decisions, self-empowerment, self-determination, among others that make me more a coach than a teacher or a psychologist. Nowadays technology and massive media outlets provide tons of educational possibilities and information that is easy to find but difficult to filter and make sense of it. Students can find information faster than teachers since technology is part of their ‘natural’ habitats. They don’t need us to find information anymore, they can do that in seconds on their laptops. They need us as mediators and coaches to model how to make sense of and prioritize all that information. I believe that education today entitles active feedback and interaction, discovering, experiencing, reflecting, respecting, and sharing. The days when the teacher was the only one talking while students played a passive role are finally over, fortunately. Selected Publications
- Tomás-Roselló, J.; Rawson, R.A.; Zarza, M.J.; Bellows, A., Busse, A.; Saenz, E.; Freese, T.; Shawkey M.; Carise, D.; Ali, R.; Ling, W. (2010). UNODC International Network of Drug Dependence Treatment and Rehabilitation Resource Centres: Treatnet. Substance Abuse, 31, 4, 1-13. ISSN 0889-7077.
- Zarza, M.J. & Sobrino, M.B. (2007) Acculturation Stress: Latino immigrants residing in the Unites States vs. Spain: A Literature Review. Annals of Psychology, 23, 1.
- Zarza, M.J., Ponsoda, V. & Carrillo, R. (2008). Predictors of Violence and Lethality among Latinas: Implications for Assessment and Treatment. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 18, 1, 1-16.
- Carrillo, R. & Zarza, M.J. (2008). An intervention model for Intimate Partner Violence and Substance Abuse for Latinos. Family Violence and Men of Color: Healing the Wounded Male Spirit. (2nd Ed.) Springer Publishing Company. NY: New York. ISBN 978-0-8261-1178-4.
- 2003: Womanspace, Inc. Professional Award for excellence in five years of service to Latino women and children, victims of domestic violence.
- 2005: Women & Gender Junior Investigator Award for the College on Problems of Drug Dependence conference.
- 2012: Government of Murcia: Special award for the promotion of Evidence Based Practices through the Matrix Model in the region of Murcia.
“In my classes, I like to develop a good repertoire and use each composition as an opportunity to learn scales, chords, comping, improvisation, reading, arranging, reharmonization, and rhythms. My main subject is improvisation. Improvisation involves creativity, technique, knowledge of form, harmonies, and scales. In my opinion, a good composer, arranger, or guitar player should first be a good improviser.”
“My goal in class is for students to dominate their instruments. I want them to be able to play the different styles we work on in class, such as such Latin jazz, Latin fusion, jazz, yoruba, oshun, osaín, Iyesa, mozambique, songo, comparsa, chachachá, pilón, son, guaracha, palo habanero, abakuá, and more. I also want them to learn how to share their playing with other musicians, whether those musicians are members of their own bands or in an orchestra.” “Related to all working with a variety of styles, the students develop and improve different skills such as rhythm, reading, improvisation, classical effects, and other fundamental knowledge to enter the professional field with confidence.” “It is very important for my students to be prepared not only musically but also psychologically, and to be ready to offer their best on stage. The work they do every day increases their creativity to a high degree, making them excellent professionals and, above all, great people doing something they enjoy.”
“I have an individual approach to each student, and I try to offer them a safe environment to feel comfortable and free to explore and learn. My goal is to help my students find their own voice, their uniqueness, and give them tools in order to manage as a musician in the professional world. After 30 years in my musical career, I try to teach what I think is most important for a vocalist.” “A musical piece, a song, can be approached from different perspectives: lyrics, melody, rhythm, harmony. For a singer it’s very important to work on all of them but we have to emphasize the importance of ‘telling’ the lyrics, telling the story, the commitment with the emotional flow of the composition, the importance of intention and attitude.” “We work on vocal technique and on rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic ear training exercises. I want them to understand what’s going on underneath the melody. A singer should understand all the layers that support the melody and not only care about the leading line. That will allow them to move freely inside a song, to improvise, to hear and sing vocal harmonies, and to develop their own version and arrangement.”
“Creativity was always central to how I learned music, and it’s central to how I teach. Creative problem-solving is the best way to describe it and it’s led me to investigate a variety of paths as part of becoming a musician—from creative instrument design by looking at the instrument as a user interface, to unique right hand solutions, to fingerboard harmony concepts that exploit the symmetry of the fingerboard, and a wide range of other directions that have all contributed to my experience. “I basically want my students to learn how to teach themselves. Technology and a musician’s role in society is changing so rapidly that mastering a single set of skills is no longer enough to prepare for a constantly evolving future. “My experience was that although I went to music schools, I never had an instrument teacher, so that forced me take a very direct approach to solving problems and learning that I believe I wouldn’t have adopted had I learned the instrument in a traditional setting.”
“Teaching physics topics like acoustics to musicians is a challenge for both parts, students and teachers. My main objective is that my students will achieve a better understanding of the nature of sound and our hearing mechanism, and all this knowledge will help them in their compositions, mixing, and editing. Also this will help them in having a better relationship with their instruments, the audio equipment, and the rooms where they practice or perform. I prefer going deeper in the concepts, just viewing the math as a tool and not as a drawback.” “My opinion is that we really learn by our self-experimentation, and that is why I try to do as many experiments in class as I can. All the students can have a direct experimentation of acoustics effects and wave behaviors. I want them to see the waves and have an immediate prediction of acoustic effects.” “I enjoy having a close relationship with my students, offering them my support in software, electronics, and—why not—in life.”
“As a harmony teacher, I believe it is important for the student to get not just the theory behind chords, scales, and all the technical matter related to the subject, I think is crucial to get familiar with real music as much as possible, where you can find these concepts applied. In my classes I try to illustrate every harmonic idea with music taken from actual recordings in a variety of styles, be it jazz, rock, pop, and lots of Latin American music as well. I try to bring different musical visions to enrich my students with a broader scope stylistically.” “In order to help the students with their work, I’ve written lots of supplementary material, mostly done through transcribing. And that leads us to the importance of ear training, another subject I teach at Berklee, and one I feel very passionate about. In class we spend a lot of time listening to and transcribing bass lines and harmonic progressions from records, and fine tuning writing skills to accurately represent on paper the sounds we are listening to. Singing, reading, transcribing, performing, actively listening, and having fun while doing it—that is basically what I strive for in my classes.”
“My philosophy in life is that you need first to know who you are, where are your talents and your skills lie, and to know your niche market. Then visualize your goal and never lose faith that one day it will happen. If perhaps it’s not happening, it’s either because you are looking at the wrong direction based on who and what you are or because you didn’t water the seed long enough to see the flower blossom.” “It’s essential for me to give a personalized teaching method, based on each personality and learning ability, as we are all different beings. My job is to help the students to discover where their skills are and how to use them but also to help them to push their production level to a professional level. For me, having a good sense of psychology and pedagogy is essential to allow students to develop their potential and to grow up with time. Seeing students evolving in their technical and creative skills is my reward. It’s a job where you receive more than you give.” “In my classes the students will gain a solid ability and knowledge in music sequencing and production. They will be able to express their creativity, discover their talents, and gain a sense of organization and professionalism in their work.” “In my opinion, Berklee is a unique school that unifies knowledge from the past; talented teachers with a lot of experience; and the latest technology, tools, and infrastructure. But also Berklee creates a unique international context of creativity and talent for students coming from the whole world.”
“I believe in a strong technical foundation in order to have command over the instrument because with that command comes the ease to take control and express oneself freely. I also like problem solving and always trying to come up with better and more efficient ways of practicing. Using these tools, I can tailor my methods to the individual student depending on how they learn.” “For my students who come from a solid classical background, I help them utilize the skills that they already have and help them use the violin technique that they already know to ‘cross over’ to other genres. Through my own crossover from extensive classical training to jazz to the subgenre of Latin jazz, I can relate to many string players and give them the tools to play in many styles outside classical violin. For other students with a less technical foundation, I help them improve the quality of their sound, develop the bow arm, strengthen the left hand, and work on playing with excellent intonation.” “I always try to implement the most direct, effective, and time-efficient way of getting things in your ears and fingers. I want my students to leave my class knowing how to practice so they can always continue to improve on their own, having a stronger ear, more confidence, and better preparation to face real-life situations like being in the recording studio, performing on stage, or teaching all kinds of students.”
“I want my students, young people with high expectations, to enjoy the same experience that I’ve lived in my growth as a musician. I believe that happiness and effectiveness in the progress of a student is not caused by the student’s musical level but by the direction and speed of his or her educational experiences. So the secret of happiness and motivation is not a point of musical level: it is the slope in which the student is advancing.” “When I’m teaching composition or any related subject, I am looking especially at motivation and involvement of each member of the class, however large it may be, and however high the musical level we are talking about, either in tonal harmony or orchestral composition. My deep involvement in the class has to be exactly the same with each one of our students. Each student is a new world, and I have to discover it.”
“My teaching style is based on the idea of mentoring. My students can count on me inside and outside the classroom, and the learning flow is circular; we’re learning from each other.” “My goals are to guide students’ talents to achieve their maximum potential. I’m identifying individual strengths and weaknesses and addressing them with honesty, respect, and challenging them. We’re working, not only on strictly musical aspects and concepts, but digging deeper into molding musicians who commit to a mission: the society of improving communities, making the world a better place.” “My best teachers were those who I could reach anytime, still today. They were those who committed to the responsibility of ‘passing the message’ to the younger generations and who consider that, even having all kinds of degrees, they haven’t graduated yet. That’s the kind of teacher I am.” “I want my students to come away not only with a strong domain over the concepts we work on in class but also with a serious commitment to their careers and creativity.” “Berklee offers an amazing creative environment full of diversity. This makes the difference. The great panel of faculty wouldn’t make the college as unique if such an amazing community of talented international students weren’t part of it. Everyone has the option to compare him- or herself with other international individuals, a fact that contributes positively to build an artistic identity.” “Coming from flamenco music, where 99% of the artists don’t have a formal music education in music theory or reading, I really appreciate the great things of the old school, tribal teaching methods, based in oral transmission.” “Through learning by ear, imitation and practice, I developed strong listening and memorizing skills and also a very strong sense of rhythm, characteristic of flamenco music. I consider these necessary aspects for the young musicians who have been educated under Western or classical parameters where interpreting is sometimes too attached to reading and where the learning process is also very attached to paper and computers. For me, the combination of both methodologies is the best way to teach, and I challenge my students to learn and memorize by ear as well as by using technology and other resources.”
“We, as musicians, are not aware of how profound our music may get, how many hearts shall be touched, and all without notice.” “Through my enthusiasm and passion for excellence I am fully committed to doing everything that I can to help students become better musicians and to help them ensure that they really grow as artists. I want my students to know that being an ‘artist’ means to be looking, to get deeply involved with whatever their musical goal is.” “I am aware that a teacher may have a tremendous impact on the way students play and write, on the way they feel and hear, and through our music they may find the link to all wisdom. I want to help them establish a wonderful connection from their innermost self to their instrument, which is actually what playing with love is about.” “Everyone’s music requires a continual musical exploration and commitment to self-expression that has to be an integral part of the playing and composition process. “I would like them to get to the point where everyone playing or listening to something by them will be able to think in terms of knowing themselves better.” “Words such as curiosity, autonomy, spontaneity, and decision-making should become part of their vocabulary and we, as teachers, should provide them with all the required tools, assuming that they have to become independent and unique.”
“I have been active in international education for more than 15 years and I have been a professor on Berklee’s Valencia campus since the inception of the campus. From day one it has been vital that the local culture be an integral part of the professor-student learning experience.” “Consequently, Valencia in particular and Spain in general are a living and dynamic extension of my classroom. In an ever-changing and complex world, it is essential that my students engage, analyze and benefit from the local cultural patrimony as they mature intellectually as individuals while enhancing the collective experience.”
“My teaching methods are always focused on the individual. I concentrate on technique, styles, coordination, ear training, keeping time, or whatever I feel the student needs for developing his/her career according to their level and needs. My goal is to feel that every student of mine is taking something from me for the rest of their life. It´s not only about technique or drumming but about music, life and feeling emotions and sharing all of this through the gift of music.” “In my teaching experience I have found that the most important thing is to get my students inspired. Once they are inspired I can communicate with them with joy and inspiration and help them in this marvelous journey of learning music.” “At Berklee I feel that most of the students are very respectful with their teachers and because of this it is even easier to work with them and help them develop. Eventually my development as a teacher not only comes from my practice but from the need of my students, so if they get better I get better.”
“Learning a language is not simply memorizing material; it is learning a skill, very similar to the process of learning music. A language is a living thing, in constant evolution; a knowledge that can always be useful and a student can always fall back on. But is also unwraps a different way of thinking, a different perspective on thoughts, culture and perception. It is inspiring and constructive!” “Communication is a strong motivation, and that’s why we try to keep classes practical. It is amazing how much better a grammar structure can stick to a student’s memory when being used! Learning the basics of structure comes together with practicing the fields of speaking, reading, writing and understanding. But definitely nothing is more inspiring than being in the city of Valencia! Living abroad is already a step into a new world, learning its language and culture is simply what follows naturally.” “Having studied Theatre, Education and Translation, as well as my PhD courses in Semiology, I not only teach languages but have also been involved in the local music culture of Valencia with my radio show, dj gigs, concert promoting and writing in music magazines. With several short stories and poems published, I also teach several literature courses where we push the boundaries of literature and the arts, searching for meaning and communication, always using music as a backbone.”
“My classes are adapted to the individual needs of students, trying to get to the next level. The development in the harmonic and melodic language is key to addressing the music – developing new voicings, reharmonizing, new ways of phrasing, developing the way rhythmic accompaniments work, developing piano technique, etc. I also give classes for those whose main instrument is not the piano and need an initiation to compose and make their own music with a basic knowledge of the piano.”
“My teaching style is focused around the individual. I concentrate on technique, styles, ear training, keeping time, physical coordination, or whatever I feel the student needs to develop their career according to their level and needs. The stylistic approach to Latin, Brazilian, modern flamenco, rock and jazz includes different techniques, employing improvisation and the proper use of different vocal registers.” “As an active performing artist who works with important musicians, I had the opportunity to develop my melodic ideas beyond all limits, being inspired by other great masters. I try to teach my students to challenge themselves in that way. Sometimes they limit themselves by not exploring improvisational ideas, so I encourage them to explore all vocal options, maintain that curiosity, and explore their limits. The most important thing is to keep focusing, keep exploring, and keep enjoying the music.”
“The master’s degree program in performance provides the student with the opportunity to hone in on a deeper level of understanding of expression and artistry. This means intense dedication to instrumental technique, improvisation concepts, and expansion of vocabulary in the area of interest.
“I have always believed that in addition to developing strong jazz concepts and vocabulary, a deep understanding of the rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic concepts of music from Latin America the Mediterranean, Baltic countries, and India provides the musician opportunities and creative vocabulary, making a musician more well-rounded. Therefore, I approach my student’s development by providing them with materials for study based on transcription work and harmonic and rhythmic study methods in the area of concentration. This, in turn, will enable them to grasp a deeper understanding of various styles of performance as well as an approach to composition. “My love for teaching developed over the years, as I have discovered the essence of constant wonder and amazement through the eyes of my students.”