In the classroom, he teaches his students to properly appreciate music. Onstage, he manifests his own lifelong appreciation for music through the strokes of his bow against the strings of his bass.
As both a teacher and performer, music has always been a constant variable in the life of Pierce music appreciation professor James Bergman.
Bergman, who started at Pierce a little over two years ago, began his journey with music at the age of five and has played ever since.
“I basically grew up with music. My mother was a piano teacher and a church organist,” Bergman said.
Outside of Pierce, Bergman plays the bass for various musical organizations, such as the Los Angeles Opera, the Santa Barbara Symphony, and the Riverside Philharmonic.
“I teach usually morning classes and I play gigs all the other times. Days, mornings, afternoons – you name it,” Bergman said.
With such a busy schedule, Bergman is always on the go. Nonetheless, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s sort of a lifestyle for musicians to do everything. The phone rings and you say yes. It’s just how it goes. But it’s great,” Bergman said.
Bergman also inherited the role of coordinator for the various concerts at Pierce throughout the semester.
“I get colleagues and professionals in Los Angeles to play at our concerts. The department doesn’t have a lot of money, so it’s really a labor of love,” Bergman said.
David Durrani, a music major at Pierce, has auditioned for Bergman several times and participates in many of the concerts held on campus.
“He’s a great guy. At first glance you would think he’s really serious, but he’s a very funny guy. He’s also an amazing musician,” said Durrani.
Durrani said he believes auditions can intimidate many students, but he still encourages them to participate.
“Although it can be scary at first, most of the professors I know are very understanding. Many of them have been through the audition process themselves,” Durrani said.
Pierce music major Jacob Billings has been involved in Bergman’s concert series and hopes to take one of his classes in the future.
“I really think he would be a great professor. Not only is he fun to be around, but he is also very knowledgeable and professional,” Billings said.
Billings described his concert experience and how Bergman supports students when they try to create their own voice.
“When I auditioned for the student concert around a year ago, I immediately asked for feedback on my song. He wouldn’t give me any right away though. He wanted me to perform my song the way I thought it should be,” said Billings
Pierce music professor James Domine has worked with Bergman for several years, and would highly recommend him as an instructor.
“He is very well-liked by the students. He is professional, knowledgeable, and efficient. Everything that he has ever done he’s done with authority and effectiveness,” Domine said.
Bergman shared his excitement over the creative arts and how his passion for music drives him to teach others.
“I wouldn’t teach music if I didn’t play. I think to teach any subject, you need to be really excited by it. I feel like I can walk into a classroom and talk about it with passion,” Bergman said.