UM Frost School of Music dean receives Grammy nomination

Making a Difference: Shelly Berg

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - The dean of the University of Miami's Frost School of Music added a Grammy nomination to his list of accomplishments.

For Dean Shelton "Shelly" Berg, communication is the ultimate goal. 

"A lot of people say music chooses you," said Berg. "You don't choose it, and that was the case for me."

Berg said it's been that way his entire life. 

"If you'd have asked me when I was 4 years old, 'What are you?' I would have said I'm a musician," said Berg.

Berg is a nationally known jazz pianist, a recording studio musician, and the musical arranger for Arturo Sandoval and Gloria Estefan. He recently received a 2013 Grammy nomination in the "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)" category for his arrangement of "Out There."

"The feeling is amazing because you know there are thousands of submissions in every category and your peers have chosen to make you one of the five that's Grammy nominated," said Berg. "It's a wonderful affirmation and it's just one of the most special things I have ever achieved in music."

Now, Berg shares his energy and brilliance with his students at the University of Miami, where he encourages them to experiment with music beyond their comfort zone. 

"It's just a broadening of my ideas and my thoughts on what I thought music was. He brings multiple dimensions into music," said student Connor Challey. 

"I think just seeing how passionate he is about music," said freshman Ariel Rose. "He is able to convey that to us as students."

Berg described music as a metaphor for everything we do in life.  

"When I play, I just want to honestly get in touch with universal things that the music I play expresses because when you do, it resonates out to the audience," he said. "Everyone in the audience is feeling some version of the same things you are."

His ultimate goal is to put Miami on the map of musical history.

"Miami is an amazing music scene because Miami at the dawn of the 21 century is like New Orleans at the dawn of the 20th century. You have all these musical cultures mixing together and the next new thing is probably going to come out of Miami," said Berg.

Since arriving at the University of Miami, Berg changed the music school curriculum. Music students take part in more experiential classes instead of lecture demonstrations and are also required to take business and entrepreneurship classes.

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