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For Gerami Groover, enrolling in the Music Technology Innovation graduate program at Berklee’s Valencia, Spain campus has been a capstone to her Berklee trajectory.
Groover, a pianist from Roxbury who will graduate from the Valencia program this month, got her first taste of Berklee the summer following her freshman year at Boston Arts Academy. She was awarded a Berklee City Music full-tuition scholarship to the Five-Week Summer Performance Program. She went on to attend the after-school City Music Boston program during the academic year, getting access to college-level instruction, studying theory and harmony, and participating in ensembles.
Each subsequent summer and high school year, Groover continued on this track until she was accepted to study at Berklee on a City Music College Scholarship.
“It didn’t really hit me until I was a freshman how much City Music prepared me for Berklee,” says Groover, who is now in the final months of the graduate program in Spain.
Thanks to her City Music education, she was ahead of the curve when she began her Berklee undergraduate studies, testing into higher levels of harmony and ear training classes, for example. “It gave me time to not only dive into my major but also to explore other classes,” said Groover, who majored in contemporary writing and production and minored in performance studies in Latin music.
While at Berklee, she received many opportunities to arrange for the commencement concerts recognizing honorary doctorate recipients Cuban pianist/composer Chucho Valdés and songwriter Alison Krauss, and to arrange for the Brazilian songwriter/composer and Latin Grammy Award winner Ivan Lins.
After graduation in 2012, Groover’s connection with City Music continued. Through the City Music Faculty Outreach Program, she taught a range of subjects at several Boston-area schools for a year, including music technology, theory, and musical theater. “City music was part of my growth as an artist and scholar and I wanted to give back in any way that I could,” she says.
It turned out Groover would have yet another opportunity to grow her Berklee connection. When she learned about the graduate programs in Valencia, she jumped at the chance: “Berklee is part of me. It’s my family,” she says.
In Valencia, Groover has been building her music technology skills through the Music Technology Innovation program. She’s learned how to produce her own works through a variety of channels: film production, sound design and synthesis, and software programming for IOS devices. “Now I know how to professionally record so I can create my own videos. I’m learning how to become an engineer, working on the Avid System 5 console, which forces me to better understand the routing and signal flow for both digital to analog, and analog to digital hardware and converters. I’m learning software like Ableton Live—how I can work with many sound design projects and incorporate that into the music I love to do,” she says. “It’s amazing. Less than a year has taught me so much. I feel more confident in the music I’m creating.”
For her final project, Groover is exploring how Latin music, specifically Afro-folkloric, can be produced, composed, and performed with sources of technology that aren’t traditionally used. In doing so, it will give these styles of music another platform to be produced and accessed throughout the world. When she completes the graduate program, Groover wants to continue to pursue this work; harnessing her newfound technological skills, she wants to record and build an archive of indigenous music in areas of Latin America.
This last stop in Groover’s Berklee career has made a significant impact on her musical journey. “It has been life-changing just like all my Berklee experiences. For this one in particular, I’m finding out who I am as an artist and a citizen.”