Christian Ryan

Saxophonist/Flutist • Performer • Arranger • Instructor

Berklee and Why I'm Back In Florida, What's to Come for 2014

Hello everyone,

First blog post!  Woo!  I figured this would be a unique opportunity to address my reasons for returning to the Sunshine State in a public forum.  But first a little back story:

           As I began to take music as a career seriously when I nearly 18 years old, a friend of mine had recently been accepted to Berklee College of Music.  I had never heard of the place before but told him my interest in wanting to pursue a music degree and he suggested I check it out.  Long story short, a few months after that, I flew up to Boston and auditioned.  During my brief stay, I throughly enjoyed the city and was very impressed by what Berklee had to offer.  I felt I had auditioned well and believed I knew where I would spend the next four years.  After months of anticipation, it wasn't until the end of the summer where I discovered I wasn't to receive any financial assistance and I decided to remain home.  I went to Valencia College where I told myself I would audition again when I finished.  Fast forward two years where I finished my music courses and went into playing music full time instead.  I wound up being out of school for a year and a half, performing as much as I could and living off my gigs.  Things were going quite well.  During the end of that span, I decided it was time to give it another go.  I received a scholarship this time around, packed my bags and left for Boston.

       Ever since the end of high school, I wanted to be in an environment surrounded by people like myself who were completely obsessed with music, possessing a similar open minded approach to help propel me to a new level.  Berklee appeared to be that place.  What I actually found in my experience was the same as any other school music program.  There were students who were serious and genuine, and then all the others: the clueless, the elitists, lots of people in lots of debt, partiers, complainers, etc.  I truly thought Berklee would be an exception, perhaps I set the bar too high.  I found it difficult to establish meaningful connections with people and felt often at times like I didn't fit in with the program.   Combine that with the fact of being unchallenged with a majority of my courses (Ear Training was an exception), and a private instructor I was unsatisfied with; I began to lose interest.  I have never been the type of person to continue an endeavor I'm not 100% committed to, and once that happened I knew it was time to leave.

      The one bright spot was the amount of masterful musicians I was able to witness in such a short time:
Wayne Shorter Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Zappa Plays Zappa, Kneebody, Jose James, Christian Scott Quintet, Lettuce, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Orchestra, Joshua Redman Quartet, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Hiatus Kaiyote, Melissa Aldana, and Snarky Puppy.

      Fear not though!  I am happier now than I have been in some time and I hold no regrets.  Through this experience, I learned a great deal about the wonders of life and that things don't always go as planned.  I have been given the opportunity to hit the reset button and continue where I left off, already being able to play some excellent shows.  I plan to use all the resources available to me and will not be holding back.  I have some bold plans not only for myself but to help bring together a thriving Orlando music scene.  There are a lot great things happening in O-Town and the rest of central Florida, and I hope with my return to add to the successes.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for what's to come next,

Christian