Dr. Jetro Da Silva
Born in Meier, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Da Silva played his first gig at 12 years old at a local Baptist church after only a month of piano lessons. By 14, he knew he wanted to become a musician. With a full scholarship, he pursued classical studies at Rio's Escola Nacional de Musica, and he performed with many renowned Brazilian artists before coming to Berklee where he studied music production and engineering.
From 2001 - 2015, Da Silva taught in the Contemporary Writing Division and the Ensemble Department. His diverse course load included a contemporary urban music writing class, an accompaniment workshop, and a jazz trio ensemble. In his classes, Da Silva considered his primary role to be that of a mentor to students, and he often shared lessons learned during his career working with such artists as Whitney Houston, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, and many others.
"I try to boost the students so they will be equipped to go through what I went through," he says. "I stress that if you get a call to work with Gladys Knight, someone has recognized your talent; you don't need to audition while you are playing. Just play what's needed for the gig.
Da Silva believes that music requires compassion. "As a musician, you are exposed to so many human experiences," he says. "You might play a funeral in the morning, a bar mitzvah in the afternoon, and then a club in the evening. To succeed, you need to be able to listen? Not just to the music but to your fellow musicians as well. Being a musician will also teach you about compromise. On a three- or six-month tour, you're on the bus more than you're on stage. If I have to choose between being with a thorny virtuoso or someone who can get the parts right, is easy to work with, and can be developed, I choose the latter."
Thus, in class, his emphasis is on the development of both musical and interpersonal skills. "My goal is to see my students form bands outside of my classes. I want to help develop human beings who know how to be with other human beings."
"Music is a language that words cannot speak," he continues. "You can say so much with music that can't be said in words. As musicians, we are in a privileged position to be able to impart great ideas and demonstrate through our music what compassion and communication can do. As a musician, I feel a responsibility to serve and share all that I have learned.
Da Silva's interest in personal growth was another motivation to seek additional education while continuing to teach. "I asked myself, How can I help people be good students if I am not one myself ?"