Lauren Passarelli

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Lauren Passarelli
Background information
Also known as L. Pass.
Born (1960-02-01) February 1, 1960 (age 57)
Teaneck, New Jersey, USA
Genres Pop-rock, Instrumental
Occupation(s) Musician, singer songwriter, professor of guitar, record producer, recording engineer, author
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano, bass, drums, ukulele, mandolin, harmonica
Years active 1982-present
Labels Feather Records

Lauren "L. Pass." Passarelli (born February 1, 1960) 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.[1] She was promoted to professor in 2009.[2] 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 The Click 5. Another of Passarelli's students was Annie Clark (known as St. Vincent), the niece of Tuck Andress of Tuck & Patti. A past student of Passarelli is Panos Panay, Creative Entrepreneurship.[3] More past students of Passarelli are Jesse Ruben,[4] Angie Swan [5] and Will Knox.[6] Students Dave Cohen and Uleberg Cohen, owners of Equilibrium Guitars,[7] and Greg Amy, founder of Hub Guitar[8]

Musical education[edit]

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.[9] 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.[10]

Articles about Lauren Passarelli[edit]

Front and Center: Berklee College of Music Guitar Professor, Lauren Passarelli, WIMN

Singers, songwriters pool talents: The Bull Run

James Taylor asked Lauren for advise on his guitar teaching videos and Lauren requested James teach us how he re-enforces his nails. Lauren's article on nail care from James is here.

Interview by Robin Stone for Berklee Guitar Department:

Lauren Passarelli's new release A Parallel Sunrise speaks to one's heart and exhibits the many facets of this artists tastes. I asked Lauren to discuss how she composed and created the album.

Here’s to life again

The timbre of your voice on this tune reminds me of George Harrison’s sound, the tune as a whole is very Beatle inspired. Did you write it with that intention or did it just develop that way?

I think often it’s the first flavor anybody hears in my work. It’s so in my DNA. There have been many times I’ve turned it on consciously to really enjoy the Beatleness of something, but I wasn’t intentionally thinking of turning up the Beatle thing here.

It was an honest recommitment to living fully.

I had seen an article that Robin Williams had been quoted as saying, f--- life. But I found the full interview and of course his quote had been taken out of context. He had been talking about how hard things can get and in a moment think, f--- life, but turned it around, saying you can’t stay there and think that for long. Nor would you want to. So I thought it was a perfect chorus for a lyric to toast life and jump in wholeheartedly again, and again.

The pedal steel is really great, did you play on that or did you hire someone?

That is our dear friend, Norm Zocher who had offered to play on my songs years ago. When this song was taking shape in the studio it felt like the perfect one to invite Norm to play on.

He sent me his part late one night and I heard it the first time right from the email before I went to bed, just through my lap top speakers, by itself, soloed. It blew me away. I knew instantly that it was perfect in every way. Which really impressed me about Norm’s ears, musicality and his willingness to support my song. We Berklee musicians are capable of so much, but it’s the listening and knowing when the playing is enough or too much, that is often blurred.

Here, Norm was totally respectful of me, & my song. That is huge when you’re a guest on a record. To know how to fit in and support and enhance and bring out emotion and something authentic, to play for a good reason, not just cuz this chord scale fits over this chord. He’s a fabulous musician. Norm created warmth and Metheny-esc moments with re-harms and added melodies and answers to my vocal lines that the song sounds empty now without. He also added cool whimsy and flash to the end as it fades out. Norm took the time to find out what works for the lyric, the groove, the song, and the artist. But what amazed me was we didn’t have to discuss it. He knew. I love that!

The backing vocals were arranged nicely, describe how you go about arranging them.

I sing along to the track in the studio and record what happens to try out ideas. Often vocal harmonies come to me as I listen to the song in the car. I capture ideas with voice memo on my phone to remember harmony vocal ideas when I’m in the car.

Totally Love You

Acapella very cool! What gave you the idea to do a track like that? Were you the solo vocalist on the tracks or did you have several people singing all at once?

I was feeding my three dachshunds, getting ready to leave to go to Berklee and I just sang the first line, “Cuz I love you, yes I love you, I totally, totally, totally, totally, love you.” And I thought, hey that’s fun, I love triplets, better capture this on voice memo. I kept singing it in the car as I drove to work and every time I stopped at a red light there was another line or verse to record. I realized it was all one chord, and that the ideas could happen in a round, and I got excited to get home & record it. I sang all the parts.

I loved the humming scene in the movie, The Hobbit. I’ve been putting background vocal humming & vocal sounds in song arrangements because of that, like in my song, Reach Me, on the CD, Tender Ramble. I’ve also made a mouth trumpet noise for many years that makes people laugh so I put that in. The mouth trumpet was also in a song of mine called, Bolstered By Blue on my Tender Ramble, CD. I come up with horn lines in the car while listening to rough tracks, too.

Hear Me

This tune reminded me of a John Cougar type sound, it had a nice groove and “cowboy” feel to it.

Where did the idea for that song come from?

I love alternate tunings. I was playing around noodling in DACGAD and came up with the progression. I can sometimes gravitate to the same tempos. I remember Mick Goodrick asking me if I was an adagio person, (66-76 beats per minute) I looked up the numbers, actually I am an andante person. Many of my songs or first ideas happen at 82 -108 beats per minute. So I will purposely up the tempo and that’s what I did with, Hear Me, figuring if I pick up the tempo right from the beginning I will get used to the faster tempo and get attached to that instead of what I gravitate towards. Don’t get me wrong I don’t force it. I want to do what’s best for the song, but I also want to stretch myself and explore.

Often songs are a mixture of expressions for me, a combination of ideas. Not always about one situation or person, but many. Together they sound like a cohesive topic or lyric but they are often components of different free association writing that I pick and add to the lines to flesh out a song.

Hear Me, was just a desire to spiritually reach with love and send a message to someone’s heart that wasn’t with me in the moment, out in another state. Love is big and can travel to our loved-ones as we desire to wish them well.

The bridge was a nice contrast in the Beatles style, do you hear these things naturally or are you using proven progressions and having the forethought to work these things out?

If I plan anything it’s to use a phrase or pick a tempo or use a cool production technique or instrument sound. Everything is usually experimental, decide as I go, reach for something to please my ear, hunt and search for something that sounds and feels right to me in the moment.

One of the coolest sounds in the bridge is a drone from an Indian stringed instrument called a tanpura. I asked, Pryant Sundas if he was going back to India soon how much it would cost to buy a tanpura for me. He pulled out his phone and said you can download the app, iTanpura-lite. I was excited to put it in a song and it fitted in, Hear Me. It’s certainly a sound we would hear in a later Beatles’ record like, Getting Better, so there’s a Beatle moment for sure.

Lots of orchestration in this tune, how do you go about deciding which instrument’s to use?

I sometimes hear ideas for arrangements and orchestration as I’m writing the song. It’s very common for me to choose instruments by space in the arrangement and thinking of function. I ask myself, does the arrangement need help with the groove, chords, or melody? Does it need counterpoint, harmony, or something that moves, is staccato, or something to sustain and glue it together? Then I’m listening for the frequency range. Do I need something rich and warm, low or bright? I add layers of guitars and voices or try the midi guitar and trigger anything from keys to strings to horns. I love how in orchestras it is common to have melody played by a couple of different timbre instruments at once, combining the sounds creating a new timbre. In Hear Me, it was fun to find that a whammy bar on some chords, and lap steel had just the textures I liked. That with a Wurlitzer, and harmony vocals and the tanpura app, the song came to life.

Reaching for love

Bluesy and funky. The vocals in each of your tunes are beautifully arranged and sung creating a nice string like affect. Which artists influenced your vocal writing styles?

Thank you. I love Stevie Wonder, and Elton John and his back ground vocalists, Fleetwood Mac, and The Beatles. Carly Simon was ace at melody and vocal textures and counterpoint too. Jane Siberry, Patty Larkin, Kate Bush, Stevie Nicks, Jonatha Brooke, James Taylor all have lovely vocal textures in their recordings that have moved and impressed me.

Do you play all the instruments on these tracks?

Often I do play everything and sing everything. But once in awhile I have guest artists, and A Parallel Sunrise has Norman Zocher on pedal steel, on Here’s To Life Again. Reaching For Love features, Kathy Burkly on drums, with Bird Mancini (a husband & wife duo: Ruby Bird & Billy Carl Mancini) singing some of the back up vocals and playing bluesy guitar, harmonica and accordion. Kathy, is a Berklee alum that plays the coolest, tightest grooves. I love playing with her. We’ve performed live shows together and this is the first time she’s appeared on one of my albums. Ruby & Billy are so bluesy and cool I just heard it in my head one day that having them on the recording would really give it the flavor the song needed. I love what they played and sang. They had the idea to repeat the line, Here we go again heartache, with the harmonies they chose to sing and then I asked them to repeat half the line, here we go again. We worked a couple of things out together, like singing the background oohs, the 3 of us round the same mic and triple tracking it, so much fun. In fact here’s a funny rehearsal moment. I’m singing and playing everything else on the EP.

You have different grooves and styles on a disc with only 5 tunes did you consciously make a decision to vary the styles with each tune?

I like when my songs sound new and fresh to me. I’m always trying to please and impress my own ears with every choice I make. So I chose songs that I thought fit well together and kept it interesting for me. Out of the new batch of songs I was working on, these mixes were coming together and I got a kick out of the variety.

The Sway

I like the piano riff, the groove is enchanting and mysterious. Was there an image that came to mind when composing this tune?

I’m new at writing more songs on piano. So it’s just my playing limitations at this point. I seem to be finding lots of little piano songs these days and it’s fun to flesh them out and play all the parts to put a whole band behind them. It was definitely a calm feel, good moment, to catch this song as my fingers and ears found it. It feels good like a slow, loving dance. Sway was the word that kept coming to mind, which turned into, The Sway.

The various guitar parts in this song and the rest of the CD are nicely arranged, they are all audible and the differing parts can be clearly heard, how difficult is it to mix your own material?

I’ve been recording since I’m eleven years old. Painting with sound is one of my favorite things so I’ve never found it difficult, but I have enjoyed getting better and better at it. is a fabulous resource to get better at recording and it has the teaching I have desired for decades. A Parallel Sunrise really benefits from what I’ve been learning.

Mixing is like tuning a guitar or a piano for me, everything gets in tune but then, you find that sweet spot when the chords hum in delight, when all the frequencies are enhancing each other without conflict or anything over powering anything else. It’s a delicious balance when things sit and feel just right and sound like a well made record. I love my voice but there are times when the mix isn’t happening yet, and I get tired of hearing it float on the top of the song and not sound like it’s part of the recording, as if I’m just singing with a backing track. Everything has to blend and have cohesiveness, like a painting with light and shadow and depth. It has everything to do with the instruments in the arrangement, the frequencies and all the recording tools and techniques that transform the live music to the medium of a recording. The best way to get in the ballpark of really getting the hang of all this is to use reference tracks of finished records you already love. Put the song right in your work-space DAW and A/B: listen to the pro recording, listen to your tracks, work your tracks and mix to sound like the pros. I have favorite bands and artists and songwriters and guitar players and producers and engineers. It all has to work. Every choice either enhances the magic or takes it away. [11]


January 18, 2017: Music and electronics technology company Soundwave Research[12] has awarded its “Good Song” prize to Berklee guitar professor and multi-instrumentalist Lauren Passarelli for her song “Harry”, originally released on the album Honeywine on Feather Records.

Beatles tribute band[edit]

Passarelli played the role of George Harrison in The Beatles tribute band All Together Now (formerly known as Get Back).[10] She has played with Leni Stern.[13]

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.[14][15] 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.[16]


Lauren was a guitarist for the band Afterfab (2014–2016), the world's first tribute to the solo years of all four Beatles.[17]

Other activities[edit]

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.[10]

Lauren created an e-book with over 200 photos. Her ebook, Adorable Dachshunds A Picture Book, is available on Amazon.[18]

Lauren has 2 e-books about playing guitar: Guitar Insights (minor tweaks, major results), available on Amazon.[19] Guitar Insights, Myths and What Matters, available on Amazon.[20]

Lauren was a consultant for the film Beatle Stories by Seth Swirsky.


Lauren Passarelli/Two Tru[edit]

  • Among The Ruins
  • Shadow Language
  • Back To The Bone
  • Twelve New Faces
  • Bellabye
  • 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
  • Honeywine
  • Tender Ramble
  • Always and Forever
  • A Parallel Sunrise


  • 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
  • Jane Miller * Three Sides to a Story [21]

Recordings/Engineering/Producer For Others[edit]

  • 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.
  • Kate Chadbourne * Songs of the Poets


  1. ^ Small, Mark. Faculty (sic) Profile: Lauren Passarelli: Fab Guitar
  2. ^ Wassel, Bryan. For Fab Four fan, it gets better all the time in Town News, May 4, 2011.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ 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."
  10. ^ a b c Milano, Brett. Meet the Beatle in Berklee News, November 14, 2002.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^
  13. ^ Spring Visiting Artists in Berklee Today, Summer 1996.
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ [3]
  16. ^ [4]
  17. ^ [5]
  18. ^ Passarelli, Lauren; Brown, Cindy; Lorrey, Elizabeth; Chadbourne, Kate (June 10, 2013). Adorable Dachshunds A Picture Book. Cotton Moon Music/Books. 
  19. ^ Passarelli, Lauren (May 6, 2013). Guitar Insights (minor tweaks, major results). Cotton Moon Music/Books. 
  20. ^ Passarelli, Lauren (February 19, 2017). Guitar Insights, Myths and What Matters. Cotton Moon Music/Books. 
  21. ^

External links[edit]