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Berklee’s rich history of jazz education attracts artists from across the world to study at its various campuses and centers. For the French musician Julien Osty B.M. ’09 M.M. ’16, it was a popular guitar instruction book that initially sparked his bond with the school and its global artistic community.
Osty remembers his first guitar teacher, Pascal Pittorino, handing him a French copy of The Advancing Guitarist: Applying Guitar Concepts and Techniques by Mick Goodrick, a Berklee alumnus and longtime professor at its Boston campus. Osty was only 10 years old at the time, an age most guitarists would consider to be too young for such a complex book.
“That was the reason why I went to Boston to study at Berklee,” said Osty, who received a bachelor’s degree at Berklee in Boston before going on to earn his Master of Music at the school’s campus in Valencia, Spain. “I really wanted to study with Mick Goodrick.”
As his main teacher, Goodrick became a major influence on Osty’s guitar playing. Working together in private lessons, numerous classes, and in an advanced performance lab, Goodrick immediately identified Osty’s unique sound. “I once made him listen to a demo that I recorded,” Osty said. “He recognized right away that I didn’t use my custom guitar.”
After honing his guitar chops at Berklee with teachers like Goodrick, Osty went on to study at Berklee Valencia, where he gained expertise both from his classes and his work placement with the campus’s staff production team. It’s this combination that he credits with helping him excel in his career today: as a performer, guitar teacher, stage builder, and live sound engineer.
Osty remembers spending his Fridays assisting the production team in building the stage for the Un Lago de Conciertos open-air concert series held in collaboration with the City of Arts and Sciences. There, he learned how to properly build a concert stage; liaise with student performers, sound engineers, and the production team; and resolve issues caused by miscommunication.
“I learned how to communicate with both worlds,” he says. “It’s good to know the language to speak to students, the production team, and sound engineers, and to respect them because there is no need to be rude to an engineer or the musicians.”
Berklee Valencia also provided Osty lessons in producing and composing music. There, he learned the motto “less is more” from professor Liz Teutsch in her Production Concepts for Contemporary Performers and Advanced Production Projects classes. “When you work on a song, you have a tendency to do way too much,” he says. “In the end, when it’s very clear and simple, it’s way more efficient.”
Sharing the Knowledge
Osty’s music education has come full circle as he shares the lessons he learned in Valencia with his own music students, allowing him to remain connected to the Berklee community.
He taught the online course Guitar Private Instruction for Berklee Abu Dhabi Center students last semester. This was meant to become an in-person course, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Berklee has postponed it. Osty looks forward to heading to the center and resuming classes soon.
Osty is now teaching and touring with saxophonist and composer Kareem Kandi (whom he met through Berklee alumnus and bassist Greg Feingold ’11) as part of the nonprofit Kareem Kandi World Orchestra. They provide weekly jazz workshops and master classes to music students in cities worldwide and hold jazz performances.
“I’m very happy when I see that some of my students have won a prize or do a concert—when I see what I’m sharing and passing on is used,” Osty says.
The guitarist also leads the Julien Osty Trio, which features Cédric Bec on the drums and Franck Lamiot on the organ. Osty plans to record their music and share it with wider audiences soon. In the meantime, however, he encourages listeners to visit them live in concert for the full experience. “I am not afraid to take my car and drive 300 kilometers to meet or discover musicians and enjoy their music played in concert,” Osty says.
Osty ultimately hopes to continue to teach at Berklee and remain connected to the school that educated him on everything from musicianship to production and composition. It’s an environment that keeps him energized and perpetually learning. He explains, “It’s a great place to be surrounded by great students and coworkers… that stimulates you to always do better for you and for others.”
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