||This article may be an autobiography or has been extensively edited by the subject or an institution related to the subject. (October 2009)|
|Also known as||L. Pass.|
February 1, 1960 |
Teaneck, New Jersey, USA
|Occupations||Musician, singer songwriter, professor of guitar, record producer, recording engineer, author|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, piano, bass, drums, ukulele, mandolin, harmonica|
Lauren "L. Pass." Passarelli (born February 1, 1960 in Teaneck, New Jersey) is an American musician and educator. She was the first woman to graduate from Berklee College of Music as a guitar performance major in 1982, and she became Berklee's first female guitar instructor in 1984. She was promoted to professor in 2009. Passarelli's students include John Ryan, Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby), David Rawlings (guitarist with Gillian Welch), John Weston (founder of Futura Productions) and Kyle Patrick of Click 5.
- 1 Musical education
- 2 Beatles tribute band
- 3 Other activities
- 4 Lauren Passarelli Articles and Interviews
- 4.1 Questions for Lauren, by Robin Stone
- 4.2 Lauren Passarelli, the Music World’s Wonder Woman
- 4.3 Front and Center: Berklee College of Music Guitar Professor, Lauren Passarelli
- 4.4 Jordan Lucero interviews Lauren Passarelli
- 4.5 Berklee professor, former Paramus resident credits Beatles as musical inspiration
- 4.6 Blast of Love: V-Day the Way It Should Be
- 4.7 Lauren Passarelli Video | Interviews
- 4.8 Classmates with Melissa Etheridge
- 4.9 Celebs|Bio
- 4.10 IT Business Net Article
- 5 Television Show Appearances
- 6 Internet Guitar Instruction
- 7 Discography
- 8 All music available at
- 9 Live Online Concerts
- 10 Recordings/Engineering/Producer For Others
- 11 E-Books Released
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Passarelli's guitar studies began when she was nine years old. She studied for five years with Lou Sabini while growing up in Paramus, New Jersey, where she attended Paramus High School. Sabini told her about Berklee, informing her that even though she was eleven she was using college textbooks: A Modern Method for Guitar by William G. Leavitt.
Beatles tribute band
Some of Passarelli's students believe that her song "My Norwegian Friend", with its collage layered ending, from her CD Shadow Language inspired The Beatles' album Love because Passarelli handed Giles Martin a cassette demo of "My Norwegian Friend" in the late 90s. Collage, hats off to The Beatles that inspired the Love album. Giles Martin heard this demo in 1999 & loved the mix of guitar quotes at the end.
Passarelli fronts for the progressive pop group Two Tru, which also features keyboardist Cindy Brown. She is a co-founder of Feather Records where she is responsible for engineering and production. Two Tru releases their music on Feather Records.
Lauren was the first person to create an ebook with over 200 photos. Her ebook, Adorable Dachshunds A Picture Book, is available on Amazon. 
Lauren uses guitar gear from Celestial Effects -- Pro-Quality guitar effects. 
Lauren Passarelli Articles and Interviews
Questions for Lauren, by Robin Stone
Bolstered By Blue and many other tunes on this record have arrangements that are very complex, with multiple backing vocal parts and various instruments coming in and out. How do you go about composing and then arranging tunes like that?
Sometimes while I’m writing the song, I can hear other parts that are begging to be on the recording. Sometimes I have to listen to the songs awhile to think of the textures and sounds I might want. I get a lot of backing vocal ideas singing along to my tracks in the car, or while playing drums. I make notes of favorite sounds, from all kinds of instruments, and production ideas in other peoples’ recordings. Sometimes I just grab the list, oh yeah, I wanted to use such & such and just try it on the song I’m working on. Like how cool it is to hear sax & guitar in unison, or playing the melody on guitar in unison with a vocal line or putting flange on a bass so it splashes around the stereo mix, or how cool whistling or mouth trumpet sounds in a song. I’ll record the song and then start layering till I use all my ideas and the song waits for the rest, or the arrangement is finished. I play guitar bass drums and piano. If the piano part is advanced, I’m playing midi guitar, and I use the midi guitar to trigger any other instrument or sound that fits.
I’ve been writing songs since 1970 and have a giant pile of originals, most of which haven’t been released. And as years go by and I get better at recording, I’ve tended to think the toy equipment I was using before DAWs wasn’t good enough, and I can re-record and make everything sound better, sonically. BUT, it feels tremendously daunting to redo so much of my life’s work. Especially when I continue to write and record new songs. It’s also a lot of work to digitize and keep my songs accessible because the platforms and mediums to hold the music keep changing.
So I loved remixing, and mastering these songs, and the emotion in the original performance can be kept. I can make them sound like finished records now.
Many songs on Tender Ramble had been demos I’d recorded soon after I’d written the songs. They’d have a reference vocal, or still need bass, or need a new drum part. I had to focus on, “what do these need to be finished arrangements?” and added the tracks that came to mind.
There’s tremendous power in deciding. Just deciding that these selected songs would be on the next record and needed to be completed, gave me the ideas.
Some of these songs were from 2003. I’d listened to the demos many times since then. But I didn’t feel a burning desire to add anything till I decided. Finish these songs, let’s get them out into the world. And boom the ideas came.
It’s better to ask your brain better questions, like, “What would be the best sound or timbre or groove here?” Rather than, “I can’t come up with anything the song’s been hanging around for years, I don’t know what to play, otherwise it would have it on there already.”
Sometimes I say what would James Taylor have here? How would Frank Filipetti mic it? What would Pat Metheny play here? And I get into a receiving place where the right ideas come to me. How do I know if it’s right? If I love it, it’s right.
Bolstered By Blue needed new drums, so I jumped on the kit and played a new drum part. I could hear a cool piano timbre on the choruses but I didn’t know what it would be yet. I was hoping for a riff. I played it on my upright. It’s a fun quirky bit. I fiddle and sing, and search, and play until I discover what works, on any instrument that I’m adding. Infinite things could fit, and a song can be arranged in infinite ways. I just please my ears, please myself, and fill the songs with fun parts that tickle me.
When I’m done writing a song, I make sure I love every chord, every word and every melody note, and then it’s complete. Same with a production, I fill it with parts, sounds, effects, and production techniques I love. Anything I love goes in the song, (dachshunds, chocolate, kidding) and if it supports the emotion of the song, and feels right to me, it stays.
Happy Birthday is an interesting tune, your vocals were more experimental and your falsetto was a nice surprise. The tune had a Beatle infused bounce and the chorus was very catchy. What was the premise of the tune and its quirky nature?
I wanted to write a song for a friend’s birthday. She was feelin’ devastated about big changes in her life. She happens to be a great piano player who was encouraging me to write a song on piano. So I thought it would be great fun to write a song on piano to cheer her a bit for her birthday. (The second song I’ve ever written on piano. But it was real fun to find and play).
She had told me about Brother Blue, the storyteller, who had just died, and she was deeply saddened by that. So I quoted something she told me he used to say about people, in the song, “We ain’t nothin’ but music, wrapped in a body made of snow”. The feeling I got from the line was we’re only on this planet a short time. Let’s make the best of it. We’re strong but fragile, so take good care. Reinvent yourself, reboot, we are magic and we need to use our power for the good. So I came up with lines to encourage and remind, as we all need reminding, that we can take a sad song and make it better.
Reach Me had a really nice mix of acoustic guitars. Can you elaborate on how you went about recording those guitar parts?
Reach Me was written in the early 80s. I recorded the two acoustic guitars in ’07 to revisit and record this song in Logic. I recorded the vocals just a couple of weeks ago. I used two, M-Audio sputnik, condenser mics. When you’re the engineer and Artist, you can put headphones on and position the mics any way you’d like that gives you a sound that works for your song. Just play the part and listen and put the mics in different places around the guitar, close, far, above, behind, in front, towards the bridge, the center, the strings, anywhere at all. Hear the differences; when you find yourself smiling because you love the sound, hit record. They were positioned aiming at the twelfth fret on an angle, and slightly above the sound hole about 8 inches away. This was my Martin 00028H, double tracked, so I played and recorded it twice. It depends on the song, frequency range and actual guitar part which mic placement sounds best. And every decision is taste. Have it as you like it.
Press On has a 6/8 time signature. Do you have any preference for any particular time signature when you write or do you let the song emerge, as it wants to.
There are happy accidents, and inspirations and stumbling on a big, surprise, cool, idea where the song comes out as it wants to, but mostly, we do what we always do, It takes conscious effort to look for something new.
Creativity is a muscle and it needs to be exercised and used, so it becomes dependable. It started for me, with writing assignments for school. I’d write songs that fit the teacher’s wishes but also worked for me. And I loved that a new song happened with certain parameters to narrow down the infinite choices and start somewhere. The song wouldn’t have happened without the assignment. So you learn that you can turn your creativity on anytime you want to.
I tend to come up with 2 and 4 bar phrases and often write in 4/4. That’s one of the reasons why I love writing music to other people’s lyrics. Because non-musicians write what they want to say, even if the lines aren’t the same length or shape. They’re not thinking 8 bars and another 8 bars, and it forces me to write different shape music. It’s only been when I’m making a lyric line fit with smooth sing-ability that I write a 2/4 bar or 5/4 bar or 10 bar verse. And I love it because the measures float by and you hardly notice because you’re following a flowing melody and listening to a lyrical thought. I’ve written a few through-composed songs that way, like Honeywine, and my friend Stefanie Mis wrote the lyrics. click to hear Honeywine or The Sea Road, this was a poem by Kate Chadbourne that I put to music. I loved that she had words like Somersaulting into a cloistered garden, how the heck am I gonna sing that?! I played with rubato and there were added beats. It turned out very Joni (Mitchell) I loved it. Click to hear The Sea Road.
Sometimes I take another structure, blueprint or shape of a song as a template, and write my lyrics to fit that song’s melody and form, then I write my own melody & chords to the new form of lyrics and I brake out of my usual 2 and 4 bar phrases.
A good example of that is John Lennon’s, Across The Universe. It’s basically run on sentences. I was on the train writing new lyrics to Across The Universe matching strong and weak syllables to fit his melody. Then at home I wrote my melody & chords to my new lyric. (That song still needs to be recorded and released.)
I had a student years ago who wrote in 6/8 all the time. That was his 4/4. So I was reminded of how much I love 6/8 and wrote a few in 6/8 ‘round that time, on purpose. This was one of them.
To Be Sure is a somewhat dark sounding and brooding track. Many of the tracks are different stylistically in vast ways. How long did the album take to write and record?
Since they were already written the album came together quite quickly. About two months, just choosing songs, transferring tracks to digital, adding new parts, mixing and mastering. I do it all myself these days. Super cost effective, and I love making sound pictures.
I was definitely brooding in that one. A family member had died, one of my dogs was dying and it was a rough time. But I was falling in love at the same time. It felt so strange to feel such elation and grief at the same time. It felt like I might split in half. So it was good to write a song to try and feel better. And that’s why a lot of these songs got delayed till now, because I wrote Blast of Love, a whole album of love songs, and recorded and released those first. click here for Blast of Love samples
What Falls Apart is a trippy journey that takes the listener on a ride through the many twists and turns of the chord progression. Backing solo guitar lines lay out the form harmonically and the vocals are rich. My personal favorite, it’s a little different from the rest. Where did that tune come from?
I had picked up my acoustic and just played that opening riff. One of those happy findings. I remember playing the song for Jane (Miller) and she smiled and said, “Where’d you get that riff!” She was enjoying it. I just sang along and words popped out me mouth. The riff went down so I sang a melody that went up. Little contrasting, easy ideas. But here’s the thing, once you put all the bits together, it makes something whole, and it’s often infused with your best intentions if you worked thoughtfully, and it sounds cool all together. You can’t just isolate one bit and decide to throw away the idea because it’s simple. You can’t possibly put everything you know, feel, and understand about music, writing or improvising in one song. It would be like using too many spices in one dish, it probably wouldn’t taste good. And it may sound contrived or forced if it isn’t done to support the song and only done for show.
I was going through changes as we all do, and was reaching for feeling back towards my center. “Take me back, hold me there, talk me clear, pour me love (which was a cup of tea), reach my shaken path, catch what falls apart.”
When I was ten and I wrote my first song, it felt like a veil had lifted or a curtain opened and I was inside this wonderful place where all this magic happens with sounds, and emotions, and guitar! Something that didn’t exist before was now here, a new song. It was thrilling. And it still feels the same way when I write today. I feel like I’m ten, and everything is exciting. The blank piece of paper or recording is filled and something new is in the world that wasn’t there before. It’s a blast. Years ago, it was difficult and expensive to get your music out in the world. Now technology makes it so simple and the waiting for musicians, money, or ability is over.
This album seems more introspective than prior albums. How has your writing style changed over the years?
Well I do have a lot of introspective songs. My album Shadow Language has a lot of deeply emotional songs. Although I did experiment with letting the takes stay if I was feeling edgy when I played a solo like in, To Be Sure, or was actually crying in, Where Are You, because my dog died, but I wanted to record the song I had written while I was waiting for her to be delivered to me three years before when she was a puppy.
I’ve been intrigued with playing crazy things and singing at the same time. It came from touring with the Beatle band that I was in for 12 years. Playing the little guitar melody in Michelle while singing the ooohs, the guitar part at one point goes up while the oohs sing down; doing the guitar riff for Drive My Car while singing the beeps, completely different rhythms, playing the Eric Clapton lines in While My Guitar Gently Weeps while singing, woke up the side of my brain that began to understand drumming. At the same time 921 was our new building, complete with drum sets in every classroom. Score! I’d stay after school and play drums. When I realized I had real potential, I bought a drum set, and I’ve been playing drums to my songs ever since.
The Beatles taught me infinite curiosity, and how to find something new. So I like to write something that stretches my guitar playing and vocal range. When I was kid I’d write quietly in my room in my family’s house. I didn’t realize that the melody notes that were easy to sing with soft guitar would be impossible to hear over a band. So I remember purposefully writing songs that had higher melody notes so that I could sing them with a band.
They say it’s easier to write a sad song than a rocker, so I’m often intrigued with writing funky or up-tempo songs. Middle of Me, was inspired by I Saw Her standing There. What a great riff in that song. I was playing my Dillion Duo Jet with the dynasonic pickups that sounded like every song on the Please Please Me album and I had to find a fun riff. Middle of Me is also a Brother Blue saying. “From the middle of the middle of me to the middle of the middle of you”, Like, be sincere, man. That riff had been hanging round for about seven years before I finished the song in ’09. So I made it sound like a 60’s rocker.
I like using the guitar in all its glorious ways. Different string sets, alternate tunings, capos, counterpoint within the main guitar part, I’m often arranging the main guitar part as I’m writing it. Its not just all six strings or one lead note at a time. There’s lots of delicious bits to explore, like a piano player would fill in here and there. I like getting the compliment that this doesn’t sound like an original song, but something that has always been, and using different keys that one wouldn’t expect to hear a guitar player write in.
I was a performance major, I can play the three parts, walking bass line, melody, and chords at the same time. Between the Bill Leavitt awesome technique books and playing classical pieces with a pick, I have a great groove and can skip strings in fun ways even in my own songs. I love what deep practicing and guitar virtuosity has done for my playing.
I purposefully make songs sound different from each other, even if they’re in the same tuning so if you hear one of my solo shows, you don’t get bored with my guitar accompaniment. You can use tempo changes, grooves changes, different registers of the guitar, different tunings, pick & fingers, just pick, just fingers. The guitar is capable of so much and in any style. Don’t settle for limitations, over come them.
I love when singer songwriters take my pop rock songwriting lab and leave saying, “Wow, I can write songs and be fluent on guitar.”
Lauren Passarelli, the Music World’s Wonder Woman
Those who can’t do supposedly teach? Well here’s an exception to that theory seeing as Lauren Passarelli does both with ease. The lovely guitar professor has been spreading her knowledge at the Berklee School of Music since 1984, but her resume doesn’t end there. She does just about everything music-related, ranging from being a performing song writer, a creativity technician, and a recording engineer to a Beatles Expert. Not to mention Passarelli also performs all over New England, so it’s safe to say she has that independent X factor.
Considering her guitar skills are at the “master” level, I’ll begin with that; her style is almost in a Taylor Swift realm, in more of an expert level as the sound broaches a country vibe, but does not fully commit to the twang. The chords played are easily followed but also contain a hint of complexity. The vocals are interesting; at first they come off a bit shaky with a lack of true power in them, but as the music carries on I begin to see the purposeful softness she keeps her voice at as the track takes on a K.D. Lang croon to it. I even catch parts that embrace a “Constant Craving” effect, and rather than it copying the sound, “Dreams I’m Living” rather embodies it instead. Her knowledge and commitment to the art is extremely apparent and the singer/songwriter manages to capture the attention of someone who usually prefers upbeat Punk/Rock - quite a feat. I find this track soothing, I must say, and while the style of music is not my first choice, her talent is impossible to ignore and easy to admire. With Pop reigning the charts these days, her ability to stick to her own unique style is something to be noted, and this is why I’d easily give her a 4.2/5 and a nod of approval for “Dreams I’m Living For."
- Lauren Passarelli is one of those ultra rare artists that not only writes & sings her songs; she plays most of the instruments, arranges, produces, engineers & mixes her music too. Lauren is a native of New Jersey who fell in love with Berklee College of Music & migrated to Massachusetts. New Englanders know her as George Harrison from her thirteen tours over twelve years in a Beatles Tribute band, currently with hundreds of videos on youtube. She co-produces with arranger, producer, composer, Cindy Brown merging the two’s vast background of bands, writers, engineers & producers that have influenced the sound of their collaborative efforts known as the band Two Tru.
- Lauren has been a major contributing force to Berklee College of Music since she began teaching in 1984. The resident Beatle, the Artist in residence, Lauren has been consistently present on the cutting edge of technology, inspiration & motivation. Combining the magic of music & the art of expression with the intelligence of a master musician Lauren guides students in a most unique way to embrace what Berklee offers & to forever learn & create.
- With hundreds of videos on youtube of performances & teaching she is forever sharing what she knows & helping thousands break free of their musical limitation.
Front and Center: Berklee College of Music Guitar Professor, Lauren Passarelli
The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between.
Lauren “L Pass” Passarelli from Paramus, N.J., is a guitar professor at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. – and so much more. Passarelli was the first woman to finish the guitar performance program at Berklee in 1982, and became Berklee’s first female guitar professor just two years later. She is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, arranger, recording engineer and record producer, and has worked with Cindy Brown, Pat Metheney, Melissa Etheridge, and many others. She is the co-founder of Feather Records, Cotton Moon Music, Wizard and Feather Brown Productions, and PassaBrown Studios, writes and sings her own songs, has released 15 records, played George Harrison in a Beatles Tribute band, is a published book author, and the list goes on. It was a true joy getting to know L Pass through this interview. We’re sure you’ll enjoy getting to know her, too! Read all about her below, and visit her website at http://www.laurenpassarelli.com/.
WiMN: You were the first female to finish the guitar performance program at Berklee College of Music. Did you ever feel like giving up? What went through your head knowing that you were the only girl guitarist graduating?
LP: There were many other women graduating in other majors who may have also played guitar, I was just the only woman guitar performance major in 1982. I was often the only woman in my classes. I didn’t think much about it back then. I was so absorbed in learning and desiring more guitar, more recording and more songwriting. I met some great musician friends attending at the same time: Sarah Burrill, Cindy Brown, Lisa Goldstein Meri, Gina Felicetta Myrick, Missy Etheridge, Ruth Mendelson, Linda Poonarian, and Lucy Asforis, who were all fun and very supportive. Being the minority didn’t feel hard to me then.
WiMN: You were also Berklee’s first-ever female guitar instructor. Did you ever feel like students doubted your ability simply for being a woman? Explain.
LP: Some students actually did doubt me. But as soon as they heard me play, they changed their tune. “Can you show me how to do that?” I can’t blame them. I didn’t have any female guitarists acting as role models growing up. I wasn’t aware of or listened to women artists who really played guitar well. I only knew what was on the radio and what my friends and I were listening to. For example, I didn’t hear Bonnie Raitt, Nancy Wilson and Emily Remler until the ’80s.
WiMN: Who do you feel supported you the most throughout your music education? Explain.
LP: My first guitar teacher, Lou Sabini, was always available to me. I could always call with questions and visit. My closest friends and collaborators (Stefanie Badach Mis and Cindy Brown) kept me emotionally strong with millions of encouraging words. My parents made it all possible by giving me lessons, instruments and an education. I wanted to attend Berklee since I was 11 years old, and it came true.
WiMN: How many female guitar instructors are there now at Berklee?
LP: There are six: me, Robin Stone, Jane Miller, Abby Aronson Zocher, Sheryl Bailey and Amanda Monaco. Berklee and our guitar department chairman, Larry Baione, have always wanted more women guitar teachers, but they just haven’t applied. It was difficult being the only woman in the guitar department in 1984 at only 24. Berklee was a college, but atmospherically still more of a trade school then. The prevailing attitude among some faculty at the college and of a few in my department at that time was that only men can really play and students were attending to learn how to play guitar like a man. I felt outside what was accepted and respected because I was a recent graduate working alongside my very own teachers, and because I wasn’t laying jazz. There were 24 mostly jazz guitar teachers then. I soon realized I was hired because of the variety I offered. I had to grow into the position. I felt like I could still be taking lessons. I learned the bigger truth, which is that we all can. We never stop learning and growing; there’s always more to understand and know.
WiMN: Do you feel like you paved the way for these female teachers?
LP: I don’t know how much I paved the way but I was proud to find out two days before I graduated that I was the first woman to finish the guitar performance program. It was also cool to be the first to join the guitar faculty two years later. I had thought that it was a sure thing then that I’d be included in “Berklee: The First 50 Years” book, but I learned a big lesson. Speak up! If I had mentioned it to anyone compiling the info I’m sure they would have considered to include me. (Lesson: Never assume, especially if you don’t have a manager or publicist. If it occurs to you, mention it, because it may not occur to anyone else.)
WiMN: How does the male/female guitar student ratio compare now to when you were a student?
LP: It’s much better now, but not 50/50. You’d have to check in with admissions for specifics over the years.
WiMN: What advice would you give women seeking to pursue guitar at Berklee or any music college?
LP: Do it! There’s a tendency with all humans to look for outside validation and really it’s our own inside validation that feels the best. There may not always be certainty when deciding such things, but any pulse, or desire, or feeling of fun, and curiosity, is worth following. You only have to please, amuse and impress yourself. You’re the one that you’re trying to reach.
WiMN: You just released an eBook titled “Guitar Insights: Minor Tweaks, Major Results.” Tell us about it.
LP: The wonderful performing artist, poet, musician, story teller, author and Irish scholar, Dr. Kate Chadbourne, said to me recently, “You should write an eBook.” She encouraged me and brought the idea into focus for me, and she was my editor.
(More lessons: When you’re used to making CDs only, do more research, and remember that editors get a credit in a book! I feel awful that I didn’t put her name in as editor. But she’ll laugh because I added some things to the text and found an error she would have caught had I asked her to read my addition.)
I had always wanted to write a book and been asked by countless students if I had books. This whole new world of digital media is making everything so much easier and more fun. So these bite-size eBooks are perfect for info on the go. It’s the first in my Guitar Insights series, and it has information based on the needs and fixes I find useful while working with my students.
Dr. Kate Chadbourne also suggested I write music to Emily Dickenson & E.E. Cummings poems. I wrote two songs: “Feel For Me,” and “Heart of the Sky” with words from many poems of Dickenson and Cummings.
WiMN: You have worked with an incredible roster of artists like Pat Metheny, Melissa Etheridge, Sarah Burrill, and more. What was your involvement with them?
LP: In 1992, Pat Metheny needed a rhythm guitarist to play on his Secret Story tour. Out of all the audition recordings submitted, he liked mine and one other. He came to my house with Steve Rodby and we played for two hours. It was a blast working through his very new, unreleased, gorgeous music. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “You’re a great guitar player.”
I knew Melissa Etheridge the three semesters she spent at Berklee. Our group of friends was inseparable; we spent a great deal of time together. We played our new songs for each other and we jammed in the Berklee rehearsal rooms. In 1991 Melissa Etheridge and Two Tru played at the same music festival.
Sarah Burrill and I are longtime friends and Beatle buddies; we met at Berklee in 1978. I was wearing a George Harrison button and she said to me, “’Ello Beatle person, I’m a Beatle person, too.” We’ve been great friends ever since. Over the years we’d play our newly written songs for each other, gig on some of the same stages, and radio and cable TV shows together. I engineered and mixed Sarah’s CD, Stained Glass, and co-produced and arranged it along with Berklee alum, Cindy Brown for our label, Feather Records.
WiMN: What styles of music do you play/teach?
LP: My music is in the pop/rock, singer-songwriter and soft rock styles. At Berklee we teach the instrument so any style can follow. I attract songwriting, home recording enthusiasts and Beatle-loving guitar players to my private lessons and classes. I started The Beatles’ Guitar Lab & The Beatles’ Ensemble, and I teach The Songwriting Guitar lab at Berklee. All my lessons and classes focus on creativity and artist survival skills. I like to teach the whole person.
WiMN: What got you started in music?
LP: My Mom gave me a plastic guitar when I was 2 years old. I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 when I was 4 and it was, “I want to be a Beatle” ever since. I fell in love with guitar because of George Harrison. George had a fabulous feel and touch on guitar. He created magic with subtlety. You can pretty much learn every deep, musical thing from The Beatles, and especially learn to play guitar, bass and drums in delicious ways from listening to The Beatles. The Beatles were my first musical influence and they taught me everything from writing, singing, producing, engineering, arranging vocals, horns, strings… I have so much love and appreciation for The Beatles. Paul McCartney has taught me so much about optimism and evolving as a musician and human being. It has been fascinating to watch & learn from him all these years. All The Beatles recordings, and videos, and their individual solo recordings are fabulous essential nectar for me.
In 1971, Lou Sabini lent me his Tal Farlow, Charlie Christian, Johnny Smith, Howard Roberts, Charlie Byrd, and Kenny Burrell records. Lou said, “ Go home and listen to these over and over again. This is great guitar playing.” I learned how to make a good noise, play clean, articulate notes and was playing Lou’s arrangements of chord solos where the guitar is playing chords and melody at the same time.
My second major musical influence was James Taylor in 1974. His personal style, his beautiful arrangements and counterpoint with finger-style guitar accompaniment, the way he woos so much music out of each chord is just sublime. I bought his first three albums together, and every album he has released since. Teenage years can be so emotional and turbulent, but James brought calm and tenderness to me and gave a personal songwriting flavor to my music.
WiMN: Who are some of your students?
LP: Derek Sivers, Founder of CD Baby; Panos Panay, Founder of Sonic Bids; Will Knox; Kyle Patrick of the band Click 5; Jesse Ruben; David Rawlings; and Rob Harkness, founder of Barn Productions.
WiMN: Aside from teaching, producing, and playing, you are also the co-founder of Feather Records, Cotton Moon Music, Wizard and Feather Brown Productions, and PassaBrown Studios. Tell us about them, and please do share how you manage to juggle between all your responsibilities.
LP: In 1989, Cindy Brown and I started those companies to launch our music for our band, Two Tru. So anytime we have a project to release or service to provide for other artists we produce, record, arrange and/or perform under these company names. Our band Two Tru has two CDs, Among The Ruins, and Shadow Language. Cindy designed the cover for Shadow Language and it was chosen as a top 5 finalist in the Independent Music Awards (her first-ever CD graphic endeavor). She also designed the cover to my instrumental guitar CD, Back to the Bone.
Teaching at Berklee is wonderful. I’m surrounded by young, talented optimism. My students and I inspire each other. I’m teaching at Berklee full time, three days a week. I teach on Jamplay.com two hours on Thursdays. I perform my songs live online, twice a week on stageit.com. And in-between there’s writing songs, recording, and the rest of life.
Different projects take turns. It’s not too busy. I’d like to play more festivals, TV shows, theaters, speak at colleges, play more house concerts, write more eBooks, make more CDs. It’s all great fun.
WiMN: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
LP: Having a full, creative life. The playing, the writing, that’s where the magic is. Getting to share that life force with others is so thrilling; it is self renewing.
WiMN: Any additional comments?
LP: Thank you so much for this opportunity, WiMN!
Jordan Lucero interviews Lauren Passarelli
On Mar 14, 2012, at 12:47 PM, Jordan Lucero wrote:
Thank you! I loved reading all of your answers!
I have to do an interview for my professional development seminar and I was wondering if you could answer some questions? It’s due by friday so the sooner you answer would be the better! If you could answer these that would mean the world to me! Thank you!
Here’s the questions:
1.What is it that initially got you interested in music? What’s your musical background? 2.Did you do anything musically before you came to Berklee?
I saw the beatles on ed sullivan when i was 4. had a plastic guitar at age 2, got better plastic guitars every christmas til age 7. 1st guitar made of wood from ej korvettes dept. store, inherited from my uncle. begged for lessons from 7-9 yrs old. a teacher in my town came to the house & said i was too small. Me Mom found another teacher in the town paper. started lessons at 9. got into the Modern Method books by Bill leavitt at age 11. was playing 9 yrs before i came to berklee. performing lots of private function gigs with bands. writing songs since age 10. recording since age 11. taught lessons since I was 14.3.
What was your experience at Berklee like for you?
Berklee had just been accredited. i attended from 1978-1982 & it was still basically a trade school. didn’t feel like a school. felt like an old hotel. there were only 2 buildings 1140 & 150 Mass ave where I lived in the dorm for 6 semesters. there were very few woman, even fewer women guitarists. i was put down for loving the beatles, writing songs, & playing a strat. (where’s your jazz guitar? “I have Carole king in my office”) there weren’t any guitar amps in the classrooms other than the hand made olivers that had 5 inputs 4 guitarists & a bass player would all go through one 8 or 10 in speaker. Instead of that, i wheeled my polytone amp to school on a luggage carrier & carried my strat in a hardshell case in the other hand to my playing classes. by then i lived on peterborough st. i was a perf major on guitar & the first woman to finish the program.
4.Where did your career go after Berklee and what did you have to do to get there?
They asked me to stay & teach but i had to wait 2 years for an opening in the guitar dept. i still have the 2 or 3 rejection letters that they, “couldn’t hire me at this time”. i gigged at restaurants & hotels because they paid well. I babysat, taught guitar at a russian school in brookline & sold very few time-life books, & gave private guitar lessons. i was the first woman to join the guitar faculty in 1984 & later in 2009 first in the guitar dept., to be promoted to full professor. i’ve engineered other artists’ & bands’ recordings, played informally with pat metheny & steve rodby, melissa etheridge & leni stern. I am continually learning new recording techniques, software, new instruments, writing & recording new songs, reading books on all aspects of music, artistry & creativity.
5. Describe your life as a songwriter.
I’m a performing songwriter, multi instrumentalist, vocalist & recording engineer. I’ve always loved hearing the music in my head come to life in a recording by inviting friends to play or by playing the instruments myself. I co- founded an inde label (feather records) & publishing co. (cotton moon music, bmi) in 1989 with a friend from berklee, Cindy Brown. i love having written so much that I know I can turn on the creative muscle anytime. I always wanted to write perform & record my own music & i have been doing that. CDs include, Blast of Love, Playing with the Pieces, Back to the Bone, Shadow Language & Among the Ruins. I’ve had songs in soap operas, inde films & I was on major label for a one song deal. I’d like to have artists cover my songs, get more songs in films & sell out of my physical CDs.
6.What are you doing now and is there anything you would have liked to have done?
Well Blast of Love is brand new so I’ve been writing, arranging, recording, producing, mixing, singing, playing & mastering that. now i’m doing TV, cable, & radio shows promoting it. i perform twice a week on stageit.com. i teach on a world wide guitar forum called jamplay.com where anyone can have a week of free 24 hr a day access to thousands of videos & live web chats with this code: 55DB3375AA at this web site. http://www.jamplay.com/card. i’m writing a songwriting & creativty book, taping more videos for jamplay & teaching at berklee fulltime, getting better at playing drums & piano. i have tons of time off to dream & create. i love my life. i would have loved to have been a close friend of George Harrison’s.
Berklee professor, former Paramus resident credits Beatles as musical inspiration
A former Paramus resident has accomplished a series of firsts at Berklee College in Boston: becoming the first woman to graduate the guitar performance program in 1982, the first female faculty member of the guitar department in 1984 and the first female to be promoted to full professor in the department in 2009.
Lauren Passarelli, a former Paramus resident, is Berklee College's resident expert on the Beatles. Lauren Passarelli, a former Paramus resident, is Berklee College's resident expert on the Beatles. Lauren Passarelli, who was born in Teaneck and grew up in Paramus, developed her interest in guitar at an early age, citing the Beatles as one of her biggest influences. She had a plastic guitar when she was 2, and was truly inspired by music when she saw the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show when she was 4.
"You know, the Beatles never said they were the best musicians or the best writers or anything, but they enjoyed it so much and they just said, 'If we can do it, anyone can do it,'" Passarelli said. "So I thought, 'Then I'll do it too.'"
Nicknamed "George," after Beatle George Harrison, by her students, Passarelli is not only a professor but the department's resident expert on the Fab Four. In addition to her standard lessons, she created the Beatles' Guitar Lab and Beatle's Ensemble at the college.
Her formal education in guitar began in 1969, when she began taking lessons from Paramus guitar teacher Lou Sabini, who still gives lessons in the borough to this day. "He's a great, great guitar teacher and he got me off to an incredible foundation, a great start," Passarelli said. "I studied with him for five years, from 9 years old to 14, and he got me using the guitar books that Berklee College of Music published, so that's how I heard about the college."
Passarelli's musical talent goes beyond just the guitar, and while attending Paramus High School she played flute in the school's marching and concert bands, as well as guitar for the stage band. She also sings, plays piano, bass and drums, engineers and mixes her own music, and has been writing and recording her own songs since 1970. "I love it all," Passarelli said. "Certainly writing the songs is a giant thrill, because I like sitting there with a blank piece of paper and a blank recording and knowing nothing is there, maybe not even a scratch of an idea, but within an hour there's a finished song. It's just the most amazing thing, it's like playing with magic."
After graduating from Berklee, Passarelli was immediately invited to join the faculty, but had to wait two years for an opening. She has taught at the college, sharing her love of music with students using a lighthearted approach, ever since.
In addition to teaching, Passarelli has recorded multiple albums, and played with other renowned musicians, including Melissa Etheridge, Leni Stern and Pat Metheny. She also performs live concerts online and has guitar lessons and labs on all aspects of the instrument available online. "There's ways for people to reach out, and the Internet brings everybody together these days," Passarelli said.
Blast of Love: V-Day the Way It Should Be
Review By: Max Sergienko
Valentine’s Day is a tough day for a lot of people. (I myself plan on celebrating it by not leaving my apartment and drinking black coffee alone all day.) Blast of Love, however, the latest release by Berklee guitar professor and New Jersey native Lauren Passarelli, has me reconsidering. Everything about Blast of Love is refreshingly honest and unpretentious, from Passarelli’s raw, mellow vocal timbre, to the naïveté and young-love aesthetic, to the album’s pitch-perfect release date of February 14.
Beginning with the first song “Come be Loved,” Passarelli invites us into the music: “Here no walls will keep you out,” she sings. The acoustic, feel-good nature of the tune calls to mind George Harrison’s solo work in the best way. The production itself is very understated, allowing the music to speak for itself, and giving the tunes a warm, lo-fi nostalgia. Other favorite tunes of mine include “Don’t Look Down,” a song about the precarious nature of relationships and the beauty of blind faith, as well as “The Sea Road,” an airy, imagery-heavy ballad driven by Passarelli’s layered vocal harmonies.
Blast of Love is the kind of record you put on on a rainy day with a cup of tea; an artfully crafted acoustic opus that couples or lonely people can equally enjoy. Blast of Love is available at the Berklee bookstore, CD Baby and iTunes.
Lauren Passarelli Video | Interviews
Lauren "L. Pass." Passarelli is an American musician and educator. She was the first woman to graduate from Berklee College of Music as a guitar performance major in 1982, and she became Berklee's first female guitar instructor in 1984. She was promoted to professor in 2009. Passarelli's students include John Ryan, Derek Sivers, David Rawlings, and Kyle Patrick of Click 5.
Classmates with Melissa Etheridge
Lauren Passarelli's Bio at in.com -- http://www.in.com/lauren-passarelli/biography-169549.html
IT Business Net Article
For a free week of guitar lessons on Jamplay enter this code -- 55DB3375AA at this link: Enter Jamplay Free Week Code Here
Television Show Appearances
Beatles' Expert, Professor Lauren Passarelli is featured in CBS Sunday Morning, February 2, 2014. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/when-the-beatles-changed-everything
HCAM Studios Live Performance - http://www.hcam.tv/wakeup2012
Internet Guitar Instruction
Jamplay.com - http://www.jamplay.com/teachers/59-lauren-passarelli
Personal instruction with Lauren Passarelli - http://www.laurenpassarelli.com/
Lauren Passarelli/Two Tru
- Among The Ruins
- Shadow Language
- Back To The Bone
- Twelve New Faces
- Time To Groove
- All The Words
- Hold On
- Sweetest Thing
- The Secret Quantum Song Thank You
- The Secret Quantum Song Enjoy
- Great Day To Land/Happy Birthday
- Low Tide
- Mainly Distance
- Playing With The Pieces
- Two Years Deep
- Blast of Love
- Tender Ramble
- Always and Forever
- Sarah Burrill * Stained Glass
- Jane Miller * The Other Room
- Thaddeus Hogarth * When The Sun Goes Down
- We Are All Connected
- Crave * Garden Party
- October Rose at the Manse
All music available at
- CD Baby - http://www.cdbaby.com/Search/bGF1cmVuIHBhc3NhcmVsbGk%3d/0
- LaurenPassarelli.com - http://box283.bluehost.com/~laurenw0/?page_id=322
- Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lauren+passarelli
- iTunes - http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/lauren-passarelli-two-tru/id266981083
- CD Universe - http://www.cduniverse.com/sresult.asp?HT_Search=ALL&HT_Search_Info=lauren+passarelli&style=music
Live Online Concerts
StageIt.com - http://www.stageit.com/lauren-passarelli
Recordings/Engineering/Producer For Others
- Sarah Burrill * Stained Glass
- Jane Miller * The Other Room
- Thaddeus Hogarth * When The Sun Goes Down
- We Are All Connected
- Crave * Garden Party
- October Rose at the Manse
- Opening the Door to Meditation by Pam Ressler & Louis Arnold
- Jane Miller's CD, Three Sides to a Story was engineered by Lauren Passarelli.
Album Review: Jane Miller - "Three Sides to a Story" Berklee Associate Professor and former PG columnist Jane Miller has gone solo for Three Sides to a Story. With a mix of originals, standards, and pop classics, it is, as Miller says, a snapshot of where she is with her guitars now, and it’s a flattering one. Original tunes are the foundation of the 15 tracks, and Miller ably composes her way through a spectrum of styles, including traditional-sounding jazz, peaceful folk, and quirky blues. She also showcases her deep knowledge and experience as a jazz musician by tackling George Gershwin’s “Our Love is Here to Stay,” Miles Davis’ “Nardis,” and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Here’s That Rainy Day.” Miller is a skilled arranger, taking tunes meant for full orchestration, paring them down to their essence, and making them sound like they were written for six strings.
Miller’s electric, steel-string, and nylon-string guitars are captured beautifully by recording engineer Lauren Passarelli, who combined a direct signal and a mic on the two electrics to produce an incredibly intimate sound. A solo guitar record is an artistic challenge, and on Three Sides to a Story Miller proves herself a master of many genres.
Guitar Insights (minor tweeks, major results): http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/guitar-insights-minor-tweaks/id648343576?mt=11 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00COR4EKE
Adorable Dachshunds A Picture Book [Kindle Edition]: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DCCOW66
- Small, Mark. Facutly (sic) Profile: Lauren Passarelli: Fab Guitar
- Wassel, Bryan. For Fab Four fan, it gets better all the time in Town News, May 4, 2011.
- Wassel, Bryan. "Berklee professor, former Paramus resident credits Beatles as musical inspiration", Town News, May 4, 2011. Accessed September 13, 2011. "A former Paramus resident has accomplished a series of firsts at Berklee College in Boston: becoming the first woman to graduate the guitar performance program in 1982, the first female faculty member of the guitar department in 1984 and the first female to be promoted to full professor in the department in 2009. Lauren Passarelli, who was born in Teaneck and grew up in Paramus, developed her interest in guitar at an early age, citing the Beatles as one of her biggest influences.... Passarelli's musical talent goes beyond just the guitar, and while attending Paramus High School she played flute in the school's marching and concert bands, as well as guitar for the stage band."
- Milano, Brett. Meet the Beatle in Berklee News, November 14, 2002.
- Spring Visiting Artists in Berklee Today, Summer 1996.
- Melissa Etheridge