Listen to the interview (approx. 48 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2011 with a degree in Performance. Principal instrument: drums.
Position: Associate Teacher (Mathematics, grades 9 – 12) at LEAD Public Schools in Nashville, TN. For this one year Eric teaches full-time while being mentored and taking classes, then at the end of the academic year he receives his teaching certification. As of this interview (April 2017), he has been hired by the same school he has been working in to be a regular full-time math teacher starting in September.
Overview: After graduation, Eric and his now-wife (also a Berklee grad) worked together as musicians on cruise ships for two years, but eventually it got old and they decided to do something else. They fell in love with Nashville and decided to move there, Eric taking a job at guitar center to make ends meet in addition to regular gigging. Later, he got a job processing payments, then selling small boats, as the money was a bit better than guitar center, while continuing to gig and teach some music lessons, including to disadvantaged students at the W.O. Smith School. But after around two and a half years in Nashville Eric realizes that his heart wasn’t really in having a music career. “The people who were doing it were making sacrifices I didn’t want to make.”
Feeling strongly about social justice, Eric looked for jobs in human services non-profits, then his wife discovered this brand new National Teacher Residency program in which he would get his certification while working. Having enjoyed working with disadvantaged students, Eric thought that teaching would be a great career–and being able to earn rather than spend money in that first year made this program particularly attractive. There was an extensive screening process, but the person who was starting the program was from Boston and familiar with Berklee, and figured Eric would succeed. He actually entered the program as an English teacher, but switched over to math, as he found he had more passion for the subject (plus the better job security and lighter grading load don’t hurt either.) Eric has been successful in his program and received the hoped-for job offer from his school just a few weeks before the interview.
(Eric does not have a LinkedIn profile.)
Choice Quotes: “The program I’m in is a response to the old path of people who want to teach taking lots of classes but not getting much classroom experience which leads to a rough year for everyone. Since I’ll be working at the same school next year I’ve already built relationships with the students, which is really helpful.”
“It’s a lot of work. Between classes I teach, outside-the-classroom duties, and the classes I’m taking, it’s not uncommon for me to pull 60-70 hour weeks But it’s turning out well.”
“For a long time I was intimidated by the thought of not being a musician. I’d been a performance major! As I got older, I realized there was more to life than that. I asked if music was a vehicle to what I wanted in life.” Don’t be afraid to ask those questions and answer honestly.
Eric as a Berklee student, “I don’t look negatively ion my Berklee experience just because I’m not a professional performing musician. The experience led me to being who I am today, and helps me teach math the way I do. Indeed, my students are often impressed that I was a professional musician and it helps us connect.”
Eric with his wife and dog. “Our lives are a story, constantly unfolding–and what we want constantly changes. It was really hard for me to get through that phase where I transitioned out of music, as I never heard other people’s stories. Hopefully hearing my story will make it easier for folks who find themselves in the position I was in.”
Eric with students. “What it takes to succeed at Berklee while learning to be a good musician is very similar to what it takes to succeed in my program where we learn to be a good teacher. We practice teaching skills every week in front of each other over and over again very similar to how we Berklee students sat in a practice room. Berklee taught me about repetition & feedback and making the little things automatic so I could focus on the big things. ”