Berklee College of Music announced a new scholarship created in honor of Phish co-founder Mike Gordon earlier today when the influential bassist and vocalist dropped by Berklee’s campus for a student-only seminar.
The Mike Gordon Endowed Scholarship will support Berklee students studying bass who are also well-rounded artists, with skills in other areas such as songwriting, production, arranging, or creative entrepreneurship.
The event was moderated by Berklee associate professor Loudon Stearns, Gordon's longtime friend and teacher who was instrumental in the creation of REEL, a crowd-surfing keyboard that allows fans to interact with the band at Gordon’s live shows.
Other members of Gordon’s "cabinet of Berklee teachers" in attendance included professor Pat Pattison, whom Gordon cited as an influence in his songwriting, both with Phish and in his solo career; and associate professor Linda Balliro, his vocal coach over the past 5 years.
Speaking to a packed room at Berklee's Cafe 939, Gordon covered a range of topics, including:
Meeting Trey Anastasio: "We both had the same white Puma sneakers … I figured, 'hey, we should be in a band!'"
Learning the bass: "As a gemini who always wants to do a million things, playing one note at a time on bass was a very grounding thing for me."
Acceptance: “Don’t ever think when playing music…We (Phish) formalized the 'no analyze' rule. In between sets you’re allowed to say 'nice playing' - that’s it."
Listening exercises: “We have an exercise where we play the same pattern as long as we can without changing it. It becomes like meditation. You’re focusing on your breath. It’s a powerful exercise…It always leads to a new song idea."
Phish’s longevity: "It’s about being open, being able to say when we don’t like something, finding compromise despite the differences … Of course there have been rifts - leading to a whole album named Rift!"