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The Music & Life of Bob Marley Class

Taking a deep dive

into what his life

and music means.

Bob with socialist prime minister Michael Manley c. 1978

At this time there are no public performances by the Berklee College of Music Bob Marley ensemble, but that will change. Stay tuned!

BBC Marley documentary w MATT.tif


Many of the students who have been in the Berklee Marley class have gone on to great and wonderous careers!  Here's a few highlights. Nice job my students!!


- Joy Daniels:  singing with Stevie Wonder

- Elena Canlas: keyboardist for the Easy Star Allstars

- Scott Flynn: trombonist with John Brown's Body and Elephant Wrecking Ball.

- Spiritual Rez:  almost the entire band met while in the class

- Nate Sabanayagam: (Fall, '02 - the very first drummie ever in the Marley ensemble), drummer and has recorded nearly every current reggae star -

- Erin Barra: (Spring, '06 singa) electronic music wiz and now Berklee prof!

- Bebo Rodriguez: (Spring '12 singa) singing and playing with Cultura Profetica

- Justin Bernsweig: bass with the Collie Budz backing band

- Tubby Love (Fall, '08 singa) is the Roots Family!

- Marissa and the Merry Rockers...rock! (Fall, '10 singa)

- Joanna Teters: (Fall '10 singa) singing so fine!

- Wendy "Wendo" Simmons is playing with her orignal project, Baby Atlas with another Marley class grad, guitarist David Jimenez.

- Ryan Edwards (Fall '10 drummie) and his very creative live sound design work.


"Music is more than music." - Bob Marley


READ Matt's introductory notes  where he passionately discusses how he came to Marley and the core vibration from which he teaches the class.

The story of Bob Marley’s life can be seen as one of a true modern day sage who remained committed to his vision of raising consciousness through music, truth and LOVE. His music is so powerful and expansive that it transcends the very idiom from which it came because it has the ability to communicate regardless of language, race, gender, religion or nationalistic boundaries.


This one semester class at Berklee (that Matt has taught at other institutions and online) consists of 13 auditioned singers and instrumentalists who come from around the world. In a lecture-demonstration format, Matt takes the students on a biographical tour of Marley’s fascinating life, and then rigorously coaches the ensemble as they prepare for professional level performances. Aided by inspiring audio / video examples and class-wide discussions, students learn about the evolution of Marley’s career and the socio-political and spiritual circumstances from which his music and ideas arose. Students also learn the discipline of playing reggae music in a large ensemble where the emphasis is on working together as they layer specific rhythmic and melodic parts, one of the deepest legacies of music from the African diaspora. 


Matt has written meticulous arrangements taken directly from Marley recordings and include some additional horn parts, some subtle reharmonizations and some new introductions and endings.


Ultimately, students take from this class a deeper understanding of Marley’s life, of how to play reggae music, a greater understanding of the inner workings of great pop song writing, a broader understanding of both current and historical global and local politics, and a notion to think seriously, through Marley’s example, about what it is they are saying with their own musical talents.


Matt also offers the class in a customizable format ranging from a three day to a week-long intensive. Contact him directly for inquiries.

See where the ensemble is performing.

DOWNLOAD a demo version of the course syllabus


The class has been presented at these locations.

- The Jazz School /California Jazz Conservatory, Berkeley, CA

- Jazz Camp West

- Steel Grass Ranch, Kauai'i, Hawai'i




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