This week’s featured instructor is Dave Leve. Dave joined DIME in Fall 2018 and teachers classes in Music Theory, Music Industry Studies, and Songwriting.
Tell us about your background; how did you get started working in the music industry? What inspired you to work in music?
I was always driven towards music whether it was my father playing various rock songs on the piano or my grandmother taking me to DSO concerts. I started out just making short improvised pieces on the piano when I was 10 years old and that led to being involved in music throughout my education. I sang in 2nd grade, played the recorder in 3rd, violin in 4th, saxophone in 5th, and then switched to percussion in 6th where I did everything from the marching band to jazz band to just having the stereotypical rock band in high school. I ended up becoming interested in composition and songwriting my junior year of high school and focused on it completely for both my undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and graduate school at the Longy School of Music doing some conducting along the way. During my education I became enamored with music genres and that led me to pick up DJing as well as just making mashups of various songs. The technology aspect let me to pick up sound engineering and production techniques as well as how the business and marketing side of the music industry worked. Ultimately, I became a jack of all things music and can easily recite the history of Beethoven as well as Juice WRLD, all while conducting jazz bands and making trance remixes.
What do you do when you’re not working at DIME?
Besides teaching, I also run a YouTube channel (Ma3stro Studios) where I analyze pop songs as well as review albums that chart on the classical, jazz, rock, R&B/hip-hop, dance/electronic, and pop charts. I originally started doing it just for fun but it’s led to a small source of income so I’ve kept it up and am constantly releasing new content on a weekly basis. In addition, I also work as a artist/DJ (under the stage name “Ma3stro”), producer, sound engineer, composer, conductor, and (oddly enough) a piano tuner & technician.
What is your favorite class to teach at DIME?
It’s very hard to pick a favorite class to teach as I’ve had such a good time teaching in the various departments. Repertoire & Hit Song Analysis in the Music Industry Studies department capitalizes on my passion for the pop music industry and sharing that knowledge with the students is always fun as it sparks wonderful discussions. My music theory classes always bring me joy as I see lights go off above the students’ heads when they realize just how their favorite Ariana Grande song works and how it relates to concepts laid out in the Baroque Period of music. I may be bias, but as one of the songwriting instructors, my best memories are when I taught Notation & Chart Writing. Being able to show the students how to take what it is in their head and put onto a physical medium is always a spectacle as it reminds me of the same inspirations I had when I was in their shoes.
What has been your proudest moment as a DIME Instructor?
Recently in one of my music theory classes, a student had approached me. He said that he;d been struggling with music theory for quite some time now but that after taking just a few classes with that he had begun to understand concepts that had eluded him for three years. It put a big smile on my face knowing that music theory would no longer be a barrier for his creativity and success as a musician.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
It’s tough to really say as I listen to so much in any given amount of time. Marshmello is always a good time, big fan of Kamasi Washington, huge Kendrick Lamar fan, can never go wrong with Queen, and Halsey has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure. But if I had to pick just one artist, it always is and always will be George Gershwin. I firmly believe he was the most recent musicker of any kind that successfully combined every genre of music in onework(during his time, that would’ve been classical, jazz, and pop). As someone who is always with the history and relevance of music, Gershwin is always who I admire and who I believe is the best musician overall in music. It’s a lofty opinion but his music is something that has remained a constant in my life.
What are you listening to right now? Do you have any recommendations we should check out?
I actually have a lot on my plate currently. Dream Theater has released their next album Distance over Time along with Gary Clark Jr.’s This Land. Julian Lage, Norman Brown, and Keiko Matsui have all released Love Hurts, TheHighest Act of Love, and Echo, respectively. The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s trilogy of their Dmitri Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow is now all out with them having done Shostakovich’s 6th and 7th symphonies alongside his Incidental Music to “King Lear” and Festive Overture. There’s also Kehlani’s While We Wait, Lil Pump’sHarvard Dropout that has the Kanye West collab on it, Offset’s album FATHER OF 4 (so now that’s all the Migos with solo albums), and Gunna’s debut studio album (and sequel to his EP) Drip or Drown 2. So it’ll be a little bit of everything from me but in terms of an actual recommendation I’d send you to “What’s Up Danger” from theSpider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack. Just the right amount of intensity and Blackway & Black Caviar do a great job making it an anthem for any superhero-minded individual (or just simply making your workout go better).