For you, music is not a hobby; it is going to be your career.
Many of today's most successful percussion players began their careers at Berklee, including Cindy Blackman, Gary Burton, Will Calhoun, Tommy Campbell, Terri Lyne Carrington, Vinnie Colaiuta, Joey Kramer, Mike Portnoy, John "J.R." Robinson, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Steve Smith, and Antonio Sanchez.
They came to Berklee because of who we are: the world's largest independent music school and the premier institution for the study of today's music.
The Percussion Department at Berklee offers the most comprehensive percussion education you'll find anywhere. We provide individualized instruction on drum set, hand percussion, vibraphone, marimba, and total percussion, allowing you to target any of these as your principal instrument. We offer you professional faculty who specialize in each of these disciplines, course work specifically designed to enhance your abilities, and abundant playing opportunities.
We also know the place percussion holds in today's music worldofrom the traditional drum set role to MIDI controllers, from mallet techniques to the influx of world music. Percussion is versatile and expressive, and can be effective in any musical style. Studying at a college that offers you all those musical styles, as well as a complete practical music education, is the best way for you to turn your playing into a career.
Studying Percussion at Berklee
At Berklee, you will find your own voice and develop your own style. You won't be limited to one direction. We encourage you to experiment with other styles that interest you, so that you can challenge yourself and improve your skills. Berklee prepares you for today's music by building on traditional aspects of learning. Percussion Department instruction emphasizes a solid foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance. Principal instruments include:
Drum Set - Snare drum technique/reading, drum set chart/lead sheet reading, time feels, improvisation, brush technique, and creative soloing.
Vibraphone - Scales, reading, chords, improvisation, interpretation, and standard repertoire.
Hand Percussion - Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern/North African, and West African styles; stick drums (timbales, drum set, etc.), hand drums, and all accessory percussion instruments.
Total Percussion - Total percussion studies including snare drum, mallet percussion, timpani, hand percussion, multiple percussion, and drum set technique. The total percussion principal can also include an emphasis on marimba, with additional studies in other mallet percussion and concert percussion instruments.
Marimba - Marimba studies include two and four mallet technique and repertoire interpretation; solo works are emphasized in addition to utilizing the marimba in ensemble settings. Marimba transcriptions, standard repertoire, and student composing skills are are utilized in the learning of solo works.
Steelpan - Technique, sound production, scales, sight-reading, repertoire, accompaniment techniques, and improvisation.
In your first week at Berklee, you will be auditioned by the Percussion Department faculty and placed with an instructor best suited to your needs for private instruction. Every student will take at least four semesters of private lessons and must pass a final exam at the end of each semester on the skills he/she has learned (music education and professional music majors will take six semesters; performance majors will take eight semesters). For a complete listing of all criteria, visit the Percussion Department Handbook.
These group lessons bring together percussionists of similar skill levels and provide training in specific aspects of percussion performance. Many of the teaching materials used in these labs are created by the Berklee faculty who will be teaching you. Offerings include required lab subjects such as basic grips, sticking techniques, basic time feels, and snare drum/drum set reading skills, as well as more advanced chart/lead sheet reading, brush techniques, odd meters, polyrhythms, and improvisation studies.
Some of the Percussion Department's elective labs include:
- Brazilian Percussion
- Afro-Cuban Percussion
- Advanced Drum Rudiments 1 and 2
- Acoustic Characteristics of the Drumset
- Drum Styles Labs in Jazz, Fusion, Rock, Funk, and World Styles
- Contemporary Electronic Percussion
- Contemporary Techniques for the Pop Percussionist
- Marimba Transcriptions and Repertoire
- Mallet Keyboard Musicianship
- Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and World Music Rhythms Labs
- Advanced Drum Chart Reading
- Drumset Repertoire and Application Labs in Jazz, Rock, Funk, Fusion, and Hip Hop Styles
- Studio Drumming Techniques and Applications
- Techno Drumset Performance
- Double Bass Drum Studies
- Concert Snare Drum Techniques
- Country and Western Drumming
- Singing and Drumming Coordination
- West African Drumming
- Steelpan Techniques
- Alternative Setups for Drumset and Percussion
- South American Rhythms for Drumset
- Caribbean Rhythms for Drumset
- Afro-Cuban and Brazilian Rhythms for Drumset
- Double Bass Drum Studies
- Bata Rhythms: Afro-Cuban Ceremonial Drumming
- Native American Drumming
- Brush Techniques and Advanced Brush Techniques
- African Rhythms for Drumset
- World Beat Pop
- Solo Construction n Drum Set
- Polyrhythms 1 and 2
The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated so that they consistently reflect today's musical needs. In percussion classes, you will learn the history of your instrument and analyze its present-day challenges while also pursuing a more in-depth study of styles and techniques.
Through ensembles, you will hone essential performance skills and techniques. They will help you broaden your stylistic range, expand your network of musical friends and colleagues, and give you experience playing with a variety of groups. Ensembles are offered in multiple sections for varying levels of ability. You choose the group and style that appeal to you. Your eligibility is determined by ongoing auditions that measure your growth as a performer. This system enables you to move into more advanced ensembles as you develop your skills.
Some of the more than 350 ensembles that rehearse weekly at Berklee include:
- Avant-garde Ensemble
- Count Basie Ensemble
- Berklee Recording Orchestra
- Art Blakey Ensemble
- Brass Choir
- Cannonball Adderley Ensemble
- Chord Scale Madness Ensemble
- Commercial pop/rock recording ensembles
- Concert Band
- Eight- and nine-piece jazz ensembles
- Funk bands
- Woody Herman Ensemble
- Jazz/Rock Ensemble
- Latin ensembles
- Buddy Rich Ensemble
- Wayne Shorter Ensemble
- Symphonic Orchestra
- Trombone ensembles
- Berklee Percussion Ensemble
- World Percussion Ensemble
- Mixed World Ensemble
- Advanced Bata Ensemble
- Marimba in Mixed Chamber Music Ensemble
- West African Drum and Dance Ensemble
- Berklee Drum Line
- Berklee Steelpan Ensemble
- Marimba Ensembles 1, 2, and 3
Through our Visiting Artist Series, you will receive valuable firsthand career insight from some of the finest performers, songwriters, film composers, music business experts, and music professionals from every sector of the industry. Visiting percussion professionals have included Alex Acuna, Louie Bellson, Gregg Bissonette, Cindy Blackman '80, Terry Bozzio, William Calhoun '86, Dennis Chambers, Mike Clark, Vinnie Colaiuta '75, Peter Erskine H'92, David Friedman, Steve Gadd, Trilok Gurtu, Billy Hart, Horatio Hernandez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jay Hoggard, Steve Houghton, Akira Jimbo, Will Kennedy, Bernard Purdie, John "J.R." Robinson '75, Antonio Sanchez, Trichy Sankaran, Marvin "Smitty" Smith '81, Steve Smith '78, Glen Velez, and Dave Weckl.
The Percussion Department has numerous drum set/percussion-equipped rooms for private or small ensemble instruction and rehearsal. In addition, there are larger group instruction rooms complete with audio-visual learning aids. The department offers two dedicated practice facilitiesofully equipped and open 16 hours a dayoincluding 52 drum sets, timpani, marimba/vibraphone, and hand percussion rooms. The college also features 41 drum-set-equipped rooms for ensembles, labs, and rehearsals. Audiotapes, CDs, and computer-generated sequences are used extensively for listening/analysis classes and for play-along purposes.
The department also offers instruction on the latest in MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and electronic percussion technology. Private and group classes are taught using a new multistation MIDI studio equipped with synthesizers and samplers from Kurzweil, in addition to drum and mallet controllers from KAT.
One-on-one faculty-student interaction is a crucial element of your Berklee education. In preparation for a career in the music industry, it is essential that you learn from men and women who have been living that career. Berklee's percussion faculty are innovative educators as well as experienced professional musicians. Their expertise in contemporary percussion techniques and technology makes them invaluable teachers.
Berklee also boasts the largest percussion faculty in the world. The diversity of styles and experience of our faculty means you will be exposed to the best education possible. You need not be restricted to one teacher throughout your education. You can work with any number of faculty during your time at Berklee, giving you the ultimate educational experience.
Berklee College of Music
Berklee was founded on two revolutionary ideas: that musicianship could be taught through the music of the time; and that our students need practical, professional skills for successful, sustainable music careers. While our bedrock philosophy has not changed, the music around us has and requires that we evolve with it.
For over half a century, we've demonstrated our commitment to this approach by wholeheartedly embracing change. We update our curriculum and technology to make them more relevant, and attract diverse students who reflect the multiplicity of influences in today's music. We prepare our students for a lifetime of professional and personal growth through the study of the arts, sciences, and humanities. And we are developing new initiatives to reach and influence an ever-widening audience.
More than a college, Berklee has become the world's singular learning lab for the music of today—and tomorrow. We are a microcosm of the music world, reflecting the interplay between music and culture; an environment where aspiring music professionals learn how to integrate new ideas, adapt to changing musical genres, and showcase their distinctive skills in an evolving community. We are at the center of a widening network of industry professionals who use their openness, virtuosity, and versatility to take music in surprising new directions.
The Berklee Performance Center, our largest facility, seats more than 1,200 and is constantly alive with student and faculty concerts sponsored by the college or professional performances sponsored by independent music producers. In addition, Berklee maintains four professional-quality recital halls for smaller concerts and gatherings. All in all, more than 600 performances take place each year at Berklee. As you progress musically, you are sure to be part of many of them.
The Stan Getz Library offers an extensive collection of printed materials, audio and video recordings, and other instructional media for student use.
The Career Development Center provides counselors to help students identify and assess their skills, locate information about specific music careers, expand and develop their career network, explore graduate school options, prepare a resum/(c) and professional cover letter, discuss job search strategies, learn or refine interview and audition skills, and generally create a plan for mapping out their own unique career path.
The Learning Center offers small-to-large group instruction rooms with Apple computer workstations. As a complement to the training sessions, the software is further discussed in ongoing forums that cover popular software and hardware topics and are led by faculty, Learning Center staff, upper-semester students, and software company representatives.
Studio and Lab Facilities
To prepare for careers in music, students work in studios, labs, and classrooms that emulate the conditions found in professional environments Students learn the fundamental and enduring qualities shared by great music and explore music technology applications in the most up-to-date educational facilities possible in contemporary music education.
The Recording Studio Complex consists of 13 professional production facilities, which include multitrack digital and analog recording capability, automated mixdown, digital audio editing, video postproduction, 5.1 multichannel surround mixing, and comprehensive signal processing equipment.
The Synthesis Labs feature more than 250 different types of synthesizers, standard and alternate controllers, effects processors, recorders, mixers, and software. Students receive hand-on instruction and supervised development time in areas of synthesizer programming, electronic composition/production, audio for visual media (games, film, television, interactive), sound design, software design, and performance.
The Performance Division Technology Lab is a five-station lab designed to support students' study of new electronic instrumental controller techniques. Featuring Apple/Macintosh computers, various synthesizer modules, and the latest in guitar, bass, keyboard, percussion, and woodwind, and brass MIDI controllers, the lab enables students to learn to adapt traditional playing techniques to complex electronic setup and control environments.
The Professional Writing Division Technology Lab consists of 12 digital audio/MIDI workstations.
The Film Scoring Labs offer students the opportunity for hands-on study in the areas of film music composition, conducting, MIDI sequencing, and digital music editing, with two lab/classrooms, a self-contained scoring-studio complex, a 40-seat theater/classroom, and two DAW/screening rooms.
Coming to Berklee
Once a year, Berklee sets aside a week to showcase each instrumental department. The week is filled with industry exhibits, equipment demonstrations, visiting artist clinics, and major concert events. This may be an excellent time for you to come and take a look at what Berklee's Percussion Department has to offer. In addition to Berklee's full-time program and other summer programs, we also feature the week-long Berklee Percussion Festival, held during the month of June.
For Further Information
For further information about the Percussion Department, email email@example.com.
Complete application information can be found in the Berklee prospectus. Also available is information on the many scholarships available to outstanding student instrumentalists and vocalists. For a copy of the Berklee prospectus, or for further information about Berklee College of Music, contact the Office of Admissions at 800 BERKLEE (toll-free within the U.S. and Canada) or 617 747-2222.
Write to us at:
Office of Admissions
Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02215-3693
Visit Admissions at:
921 Boylston Street, Suite 600
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Berklee College of Music does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, genetic information, marital status, pregnancy, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law in employment or in admission to and participation in any of its programs and activities. Any inquiries or grievances may be directed to the Title IX Coordinator, the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students, Berklee College of Music, 1140 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02215-3693, 617 747-2231, or to the Regional Director, Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Boston, Massachusetts.