Constellation Media

Media Production blog based at Brandeis University

Author: zgordon

Freelance: The Reality of Modern Musicianship



We start with four musicians turned teachers:

Steven Kirby: a Harmony professor at Berklee College of music who teaches guitar at four institutions including Brandeis University.

Ed Lucie: A professor in the bass department at Berklee who like his colleague teaches private lessons whenever he can.

John Funkhouser: A pianist and ear training teacher at Berklee. It should be no surprise that he too teaches private lessons.

Mike Connors: The busiest of the group, Mike was unavailable for interview due to his performance schedule. This is unsurprising when considering his last year’s gig total of 383.

Here the three available members talking about why they choose to play with one another.



While playing together satisfies these musicians’ desire to play creative, experimental music, A musician in the modern world cannot sustain a career only on playing.

All four members of this combo engage in a variety of work to stay fulfilled and keep afloat. According to the members of the group, this is common for jazz musicians in the modern music landscape. Here, Ed and Steve talk about how they have had to organize their lives around their music to stay successful.




There are infinite ways for a musician to survive in today’s modern playing environment. The thing that ties these three musicians together is not just their playing, but their teaching.

Mike is the only member of the group who does not work at Berklee, but he makes up for it with four other institutions and his mile long gig list.

As important as performing is to these players, they all have a love for passing on what they know to the next generation.

Watch below to see how the Steve, Ed, and John balance their time as teacher’s and performers, and what they hope to pass on to their students.




The Traveling Teacher: Pt. 1

Kirby edit 1

Brandeis University is home to a variety of dance organizations. Three of these organizations have a very special connection. Watch the video below to find out how Brandeis dance is making big moves to get noticed on and off campus.

David Rumpler is a Boston musician with a passion for teaching. His love for music took him halfway around the world and what he brought back with him is truly remarkable. Listen as he tells his story through a tapestry of photographs and sound.

Final Multimedia Project Pitch Part 2

My second idea for my multimedia project is to focus on the lives of instrumental music teachers in and around Boston. This story will be a clearer continuation of the stories I have already done for this class and will provide a sense of continuity to my work. The link for each of my stories obviously being music, this story will focus on the everyday lives of the men and women who teach it. The impetus for this story comes out of my radio package, where my interviewee, Bob Nieske, informed listeners that nearly all professional musicians have to engage in some form of teaching to supplement their income.

I would begin by focusing on Steve Kirby, a Berklee guitar instructor who teaches lessons not only in Boston but out in Waltham at Brandeis. I would take an initial interview with Steve to establish where else to go and who else to talk to, with the goal in mind of getting on campus at Berklee College of Music and interviewing instructors and students about how they make their livings as musicians in Boston. With music as the focus I would keep my trend of audio-rich story telling. I would be able to get a lot of footage of musicianship and images of the lives of these teachers. Again as with every one of my stories I will let it develop as I interview and take footage but I think I could get a lot of compelling material out of this story idea.

Final Multimedia Project Pitch

For my last Multi-media project I’m tentatively planning on doing a story on Housing Insecurity in Waltham. I have a connection via Waltham Group with a worker in Habitat for Humanity that I plan to talk to for more details of the project. The project would consist of a video package involving interviews pertaining to housing insecurity with my contact and hopefully members of the Waltham community. For my second medium I plan to take a number of still images of the community and the work being done by Habitat. I may accompany this medium with NAT sound from the area to add another compelling component.

As with all of my stories, I will likely find a more pointed direction as I do my research and my interviews.

Audio-Slideshow ideas

For my multi-media slide show, I think I would like to write something relating to music. Some ideas I’ve had are possibly interviewing students and faculty in the Brandeis music department, or possibly interviewing a Bob Neiske for a profile. Image wise I could include pictures of the Jazz ensemble rehearsals or of shows in the city I could go to. There will be one Bob will be playing at this weekend that I could go to and photograph to start building my slide show. Visually I could get some really interesting shots with a telephoto lens up close to the instruments themselves. As far as the interviews go I could possibly ask him about his experience in music and more specifically his role as a director. Jazz musicians, I’ve found, tend to have a very interesting cadence to the way they talk especially when they talk about music and their own history in it, so aurally it would be very interesting as well. I’m not sure what I’ll want to center the interview questions around just yet but I think this is a solid idea and I think I am going to run with it.

First Post: Welcome to Constellation

My name is Zachary Gordon, I’m a second semester freshman at Brandeis University and am enrolled in a multi-media course here.
So I’ve started this blog to keep up with the requirement and it’s where I’ll post my various interviews and projects over the course of the semester.
My interest in Journalism mostly started with my interest in music. In terms of a career writing for an arts magazine or doing photo journalism of something music related. Something in radio also interests me. I am also interested in documentary and enjoy long form journalism. Basically the only thing that is clear is that I have an interest and that interest could go a lot of directions.
On campus I have worked for the Hoot for a semester and usually read the work of my fellow writers in the sections other than arts which is what I write for. This semester I am hoping to have a radio show on WBRS where I hope to do some journalism along with music.
Off campus I read the New York Times regularly and often read articles in the Guardian and BBC.
Where this career path and these blog postings take me is unclear but it is here for now and I’ll see where it takes me. Welcome to Constellation Media.

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