Interview by Kevin Carr
“It takes a lot to make TV!” exclaims Berkleemusic student John Stoecker while resting an open hand on a floor to ceiling tower of electronic racks and computer devices. All are humming and blinking with digital dials, numbers and colors. At first glance, you might interpret the machinery as a sophisticated stereo setup, or a top-notch record producer’s collection of gear. “This one is Nickeleodeon,” Stoecker begins, “this one’s Comedy Central; this one is CMT.” He goes on to explain that each tower functions as one of the channels at MTV Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom. And this particular office is unique in itself. It is the MTV Networks Disaster Recovery facility, and John is one of the people there to make sure that the channels keep running in event of a major problem at the MTV facilities in New York.
John definitely has his fair share of pressure, job responsibility and demands, but finds release with his love of songwriting and music in Berkleemusic’s Commercial Songwriting Techniques course with Andrea Stolpe. “One of the awesome things about working for MTV is that they appreciate and encourage creativity in their employee’s daily lives outside of their job.”
John rotates his schedule with other technicians like himself, so his schedule varies week to week. The flexible format of his online courses and interaction with instructors let class fit easily into his schedule. “I usually log on in the morning or at night depending on my week’s schedule. Plus, I can use lunch time to complete my lessons at work” he says.
John’s Berkleemusic experience actually started with Pat Pattison’s Lyric Writing Tools and Strategies course, which Andrea was teaching in the prior term. “I originally purchased several of Pat Pattison’s books way before I even knew about the online classes. After reading through his books, I started looking for more ideas and more material. That’s when I found Berkleemusic. I saw Pat’s courses, gave it a day’s thought and took a leap of faith.”
Putting Andrea's debut CD Breaking Even in his stereo, John talks more about how Commercial Songwriting Techniques has impacted his writing. “The strategies and approaches for creative songwriting that Andrea’s class has given me are invaluable. It’s like I have this whole chest full of new tools that I’m using to help mix and match my lyrics to music, and take unfinished works and develop them into a final composition. I’m going back and rethinking old songs and I’m making them better. I had an epiphany in my songwriting.”