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Kronos classThe Berkeley Connect program opens up the extraordinary resources of the university to you: the extraordinary students on our campus. By joining, you will become part of a community of like-minded faculty, mentors, and students that will provide a supportive environment in which to exchange and discuss ideas and goals. Berkeley Connect will help you to make the most of your time at the university as you learn more about the major in Music. We’re excited to get to know you!

Message from the Director

Myra MelfordMusic is a powerful agent for community. The music we listen to and love often defines us. It is the glue that binds groups of friends and can become the soundtrack to the most important moments in our lives. As a powerful mechanism for memory, listening to a favorite track can often bring us back to those important moments later in life, triggering strong emotions. At Berkeley Connect in Music, we will build upon this capacity for music to bring us together. Aside from helping you connect to your Berkeley community, we will also share and discuss music in a casual setting, offer mentorship, attend events, and break bread together (Yes! Berkeley Connect provides free meals!). Part of that community building, however, depends on each of us practicing the discipline of deferring judgment and becoming more open-minded as we step into ever-larger communities. Civility and culture is built upon such a foundation. We might have strong, immediate dislikes for certain types of music while thinking that we are smart and open-minded people, but there are no universals when it comes to musical taste. So, music can serve as a method of helping us confront our prejudices. One of Berkeley Connect’s aims is to help students develop awareness about prejudices and how they manifest within our appreciation of music. These are takeaways that we hope will be useful for everyone, both music majors and non-majors.

Personally, as a jazz and classically trained musician, I’ve had to confront the fact that I don’t belong to the dominant culture in the history of either music, which is largely dominated by men (in one case white, the other black). My participation in music making has been developed through being myself. The music that I compose and learn to perform creates a new and unique space for my artistic identity – and hopefully is contributing to a more diverse musical landscape. I hope my example, however humble and esoteric, can inspire anyone in any field, who hope to find their own unique voice and space in the world after graduation.

Berkeley Connect can also help address a few specific needs of music majors – issues that students in the department tend to encounter in their years here: 1) music majors often do not take classes with certain professors until their junior year, thus 2) music majors often do not receive mentoring in their preferred concentration until late in their matriculation. In my specialized area of improvised performance and composition, for example, I often do not meet prospective majors until they take my classes in their junior or senior year. If you want to be competitive for graduate school in jazz and improvised music performance or music composition, it would be more advantageous to spend three or four years preparing, instead of just your last year of college. And this is true of other music related fields as well. We are designing the Berkeley Connect in Music program to try to address these issues.

In tackling these problems together throughout the course of the semester, we hope to highlight this trajectory of finding our own unique space in the world for everyone. It can often be quite daunting in a large university to think about our own uniqueness – especially when you are taking classes with hundreds of your peers. This is where Berkeley Connect is at its best. We provide one-on-one mentorship meetings with advanced graduate students or recent PhD recipients, to supplement the biweekly small group settings, all the while sharing meals and discussing music with new friends who are facing similar challenges in life.

Professor Myra Melford
Director, Berkeley Connect in Music

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Music. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Music major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Music is that you have an interest in the field of study. You do not have to be a major in order to participate! Undeclared freshmen and sophomores are welcome, along with entering junior transfers and juniors and seniors who have declared the major.

Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating students.  They include:

  • small-group meetings led by your mentor;
  • one-on-one meetings with your mentor;
  • special events, including informal lectures by professors and guest speakers, and panels on career options, graduate school admissions, and other topics;
  • and visits to Berkeley resources.

At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the relationship between you and your mentor. The Berkeley Connect mentors are advanced graduate students or recent PhDs in Music, who are chosen both for their demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for their scholarly achievement. They are dedicated to providing the kind of close-knit community and one-on-one attention that can be hard to find at a large university.

When you sign up for Berkeley Connect, you will join one of several small groups of participants in Music. Your small group will be led by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long dinner discussion sessions. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within Music as well as key skills you need to succeed in the major. Above all, the small groups will focus on building connections among students, so that each group becomes a supportive community for all participants.

You will also meet with your mentor one-on-one at least twice during the semester, once to get acquainted, and a second time just before Tele-Bears, to discuss your plans for completing your major. Your mentor also has office hours every other week, during which you are free to show up and ask questions, talk over your day or your week, discuss what you are learning in class, or just have an informal conversation.


Myra Melford

Myra MelfordMy earliest memories of making up music on the piano are from the age of 3, before we moved to the house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright where I grew up in Glencoe, IL. I took classical piano lessons until I was a freshman in high school, but my first piano teacher, Erwin Helfer, was (and still is) a great blues and boogie-woogie player in the Chicago tradition, and as a treat, after lessons, he taught me to play the blues by imitating him through call and response. This kind of eclectic approach seems to have had a lasting result (as did the experience of growing up in a Frank Lloyd Wright house), because after returning to music, from environmental science, as a sophomore at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, I immediately got into studying jazz and various world music traditions; and all of those musical strands now inform the music I make today as a pianist, composer and improviser. These days, I’m leading a quintet called Snowy Egret that plays my original music. I perform solo and in various duos and trios. You can read more about my current projects at www.myramelford.com, as well as watch videos from a 25-year retrospective of my work recorded at the Stone, NYC, in 2015. I fully endorse the Wiki article about me, and here’s a link to me playing the blues in a small club in Inage, Japan, several years ago.

Berkeley Connect Mentors

Peter HumphreyPeter Humphrey is a PhD candidate in Music.

Where did you grow up?


Where did you go to college and what was your major?

York, Music.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

The history of sound systems and mixing boards.

Semester Activities

Week 1 – Aug 28              *5:30 – 6:30pm Opening Welcome Event* Morrison Room 117

Reception to follow upstairs in Morrison Hall Atrium

Week 2 – Sept 4              Small Group 1 Introductions, ice-breakers & meet your colleagues:

We will get to know one another in this session, explore our tastes in music and what to expect from Berkeley Connect in Music this semester.

Week 3 – Sept 11             Small Group 2 Mentor intro:

I will introduce myself and my journey through academia and music with Q&A. We will then look at what you hope to gain from your time in Berkeley and your undergrad experience so far.

Week 4 – Sept 18             No Meeting – Meet Your Mentor Sessions

Week 5 – Sept 25             Small Group 3 Values:

We will do an exercise exploring what core values you might have and how that could shape your academic/work path.

Week 6 – Oct 2                  Small Group 4 Sound Systems and Technology:

This is a theme I am researching for my PhD.  We will look in a general sense how questions around technology interact with music and why this is important/relevant now.

Week 7 – Oct 9                  No Meeting

Week 8 – Oct 16               Small Group 5 Engaging with music:

Learning different ways that we can talk about music by looking at songs that can stimulate discussion. We will explore music you are passionate about and begin to develop ways to talk about it.

Week 9 – Oct 23               Small Group 6 Presentation by Berkeley Connect in Music Director Myra Melford

Week 10 – Oct 30            No Meeting – Meet Your Mentor Sessions

Week 11 – Nov 6              Small Group 7 Engaging with music 2:

Another session exploring music you value and how to discuss it.

Week 12 – Nov 13           *5:30 – 6:30pm Panel*

Week 13 – Nov 20           Small Group 8 Making Music:

What are your experiences making music?  We will discuss ways that we make music, or how we might start…

Week 14 – Nov 27           Thanksgiving Holiday

Week 15 – Dec 4               No Meeting

Week 16 – Dec 11            Study Break

Snacks & chill with your mentor, YouTube Karaoke, Musical Potluck

Field Trip Options:

1. September 11 – Dramatic Scena for Voice and Piano (Hertz Hall, 12pm)
2. October 27 – David Virelles Trio; Spider Web by Nicole Mitchell and Josh Kun (Hertz Hall, 7pm)
3. November 17 – University Gospel Chorus (Hertz Hall, 7.30pm)


To find sections in the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for Music 98BC (for first-year and sophomores) or 198BC (for juniors and seniors).

To help you meet other students who share your experiences and perspectives, Berkeley Connect sections are designated as lower division (first-year students and sophomores), new junior transfers, and upper division (juniors and seniors), but you can enroll in any section that fits your schedule and credit requirements.

How to Sign Up

To participate in Berkeley Connect in Music, you enroll in a designated section of Music 98BC or 198BC (one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis). Many students chose to enroll for more than one semester. Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens.  Please see the Berkeley Connect sections listed above under “Schedule.”

**Read the schedule notes carefully—different sections are designated as primarily for lower-division (freshmen and sophomores), upper-division (juniors and seniors), or junior transfer students.

If you are interested in participating in Berkeley Connect, but course registration is not currently open, you can join the Berkeley Connect Mailing List, and you will be sent more details when the next semester’s information becomes available.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs.  If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in Music, please contact:  Professor Myra Melford (mmelford@berkeley.edu).

You can also contact the central Berkeley Connect office  at berkeleyconnect@berkeley.edu or (510)664-4182.

Links & Resources