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Berklee Student

Shachar Ziv

Berklee Student
Member since 2014

About Me

I was born in Israel, in a small town, close to Tel Aviv, called Rechovot. My parents named me “Shachar” which in Hebrew means “Dawn”. They took the first piece “Sh” from my sister’s name, Shirly, and the “rrrr” from the last part of my brother’s name, Omer. They Put a “Ch” in the middle – from the Hebrew word “Chaverim”, meaning “friends”, hoping we would all get along and be good friends to each other.

These themes of Family (roots), light (the passion in each person), and friendship have accompanied me since then throughout my life. I’ve always considered things from different, sometimes contradictory perspectives, and sought to understand, relate, connect, find, and re-establish harmony and peace. I look for the good in people, and it is usually not very hard for me to find it. Figuring out my own path in life, and settling my inner discrepancies has taken more years and has been a challenging task.

I have been doing collaborative songwriting with my siblings since the age of 3. We enjoyed writing funny songs about the drama of circumcision, dating, and babysitting. At age 7 I started studying recorder at the local conservatory, and at age 9 I picked up the french horn, studying under Alex Sneider in the conservatory, and later privately. Alex was extremely dedicated to me and I owe him a lot of my strong bond with the french horn.

Around the same time, my parents had me skip a grade. I was advancing quickly, and they were afraid I’d get bored and never learn to really work hard in order to achieve. This experience introduced “otherness” into my life. I was suddenly the youngest, the “gifted”. I drifted apart from my old classmates and found new connections among other “different” kids: new immigrants from Russia and kids who shared my passion for singing, acting, and basketball.

At age 10 I received my first America-Israel Foundation scholarship. I played Tchaikovsky 5th symphony horn solo at the audition, where one of the judges offered to help me get the water out of the horn, which was as big as me. I dropped out of basketball training and focused on the horn, playing in orchestras, chamber groups and music festivals. At age 14, I was selected to represent Israel in a young soloists concert in Finland. Accompanied by the Tampere Symphony Orchestra, I played Paul Dukas’ “Villanelle” in a live concert broadcasted throughout Europe. I won several awards, studied at the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts, and was principal horn player for the Young Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. At age 16 I attended Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina and checked out the different music colleges in the US. It seemed natural to me that I would follow the classical route that helped me feel accomplished, and was taking me to all these wonderful places around the world.
But things started to change. Expectations and fears started penetrating my shield, along with questions of identity. Who am I? And what is this weird music that I’m playing on this strange instrument? When did I choose any of it? I felt fake and lost.

Three years in the Israeli air force gave me the time I needed to explore things from the start again. After a long day, I would come back to my parents’ house, and storm right to the piano, still in uniform, and improvise. I didn’t know what I was playing and why. I was searching for something.

After finishing the army I took a five-month trip to Central America. I saw much beauty of people and nature, as well as much poverty. I ended this journey with a craving to study. I wanted to make a difference in this world, but had little idea of how to go about that.

Upon coming back to Israel, I started teaching English, applied to Tel Aviv University, and joined a forming Tango band – Pitango. I knew that I wanted to be a songwriter. At the same time, I felt that I wasn’t smart enough to have anything meaningful to say to the world. I was fortunate to conduct my academic journey as part of the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Program for outstanding students. The questions I studied were: What makes music “Classical”? (eternal?), and what are the cognitive mechanisms of Improvisation? From the brain perspective – is the improviser more similar to the performer or the composer?

At 26, I was in the middle of the process of getting an MA in Psychology. I had a job playing horn with the Israel Camerata Jerusalem. I was a pianist in a successful touring band. I had a girlfriend. And I was miserable. Didn’t feel like I was leading life, more like it was leading me.

At an airport in Zurich, Swizerland, I was writing in my journal: “Shachar, if you were free, what would you do?” The answer came clear: “I would write songs.”

My life has changed since that moment. I have studied songwriting in Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, a journey which continues currently at the Berklee School of Music.

This coming May I will be releasing my debut EP album: “Pieces of a Puzzle” and performing with the Metrowest Symphony Orchestra a selection of my songs arranged for a symphony orchestra. I just can’t wait.

Experience & Education


  • Pianist & Music Director for Pitango Quartet
    March 2003 to June 2013 (over 10 years)

    Pitango has released 3 CD's of traditional argentinian tango music, played with orchestras, and toured in Argentina and Spain. Acclaimed by Tangero Poet, Horacio Ferrer as :"4 virtuosi of tango and soul!"

  • French horn player for The Israel Camerata Jerusalem
    October 2008 to August 2011 (over 2 years)

    Over a 100 concerts a year with the best chamber orchestra in Israel


  • MA in Psychology at Tel Aviv University
    2002 to 2012 (10 years)
  • Diploma in Songwriting and Piano at Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music
    2008 to 2011 (3 years)