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About Berklee Online

Berklee Online brings the best of Berklee College of Music to students around the world. Study Berklee's curriculum, with Berklee's faculty, in a small and supportive online community.

About Online Degrees

Berklee Online has over 12 years of experience teaching music online. Our ...

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Ron Kadish

The Big Community: Brad Hatfield on the Joys of Composing for Images, Online Teaching, and Connecting Future Music Professionals

Berklee Online has led online music education in a way that the average person might not get,” exclaims composer, master keyboard player, and Berklee Online instructor Brad Hatfield. “You don’t just log on and read stuff and then upload an assignment. There is a big community weighing in, commenting on each other’s work, and supporting each other. I’m super impressed, and I’m not easily impressed.”

If Hatfield is not easily impressed, it’s because his own credentials are impressive. An Emmy Award winner, his songs have appeared in The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, ER, CSI, Saturday Night Live, Friends, and The Young and The Restless. His compositions and performances have been placed prominently in films from Mystic River to Borat. He regularly plays with the Boston Pops. He’s also created the curriculum and teaches the Music Supervision and Songwriting for Film and TV courses for Berklee Online.

An experienced in-person instructor, Hatfield is thrilled by what he can do as an instructor online that are impossible in a brick-and-mortar lecture hall. “Students can comment on each other’s work and really think about it,” says Hatfield. “We can’t do that in a traditional classroom setting; you just don’t have time,” he reflects. “People can sit in traffic or on a bus and click and listen to each others work. I often leave audio feedback, sing or play things back to them, which I couldn’t do in a lecture classroom. Students can play it back if they need to hear it again.”

Hatfield has noticed a common thread that binds many of his students: They were estranged from the music business, but are now raring to get back in. “A lot of students in my music supervision or songwriting courses were in the music business before. Some aged out, some got out of the game,” reflects Hatfield. “They are getting back in and bring a lot of experience with them. I love seeing students get fired up about assignments, watching them reconnect with something they’d left behind, as well as mentoring students new to the field.”

Though they may have backgrounds in the industry, many students are new to the world of music supervision and writing for images. Hatfield emphasizes that just because you have the chops, you need to remember that you are not calling the shots. Hatfield encourages music supervision students to be willing to play multiple roles, and to keep several options at the ready. He tells composers for film and TV that they need to take feedback constructively. “You are not the boss when you write for images,” he states. “There are several people higher up. There are budgets. You are only playing a small, if important, part in something bigger.”

He also guides students to focus on the essence of their pieces, and not get swept away by complex arrangements and orchestrations that may not work for the picture in question: “We all have these giant orchestral palettes. Try it with solo voice, or one or two instruments. You have to understand you’re playing a supportive role.”

Hatfield’s supportive role reveals a keen understanding of the conditions students will face in the professional world. To help make connections between two mutually benefitting groups—dedicated songwriters and hopeful music supervisors—he links both courses’ final assignments. “I unify the two courses,” he explains. “The final project is designed for music supervisors to utilize music that my Songwriting for Film and TV class has already created. I make an effort to get these two sets of people together. They need each other in a professional sense, and often great things come out of this.”

Great things are afoot for one of Hatfield’s current students, Eliot Hosenfeld, who is already working on his first feature film as a music supervisor: "I have never enjoyed a class more in my life and it is helping me out a ton in my current role as a Music Supervisor."

As a professional composer with experience on- and offline, Hatfield is continuously surprised by his online students’ commitment and passion. “People in my Berklee classes really want to learn. They are hungry,” he says. “They want to challenge you, too. They keep asking questions! Sometimes I have to dig down and learn something new to respond effectively, which is really exciting.”

Learn with Brad Hatfield

-Music Supervision
-Songwriting for Film and TV

About Berklee Online

Berklee Online is the online continuing education division of Berklee College of Music, delivering access to Berklee’s acclaimed curriculum from anywhere in the world.  Berklee Online’s award-winning online courses, multi-course certificate programs, and degree programs are accredited and taught by the college’s world-renowned faculty, providing lifelong learning opportunities to people interested in music and working in the music industry.