Many of today's most successful pianists began their careers at Berklee, including Cyrus Chestnut, Jan Hammer, Bruce Hornsby, Bob James, Jeff Lorber, Rob Mounsey, Makoto Ozone, Danilo Pérez, and Joe Zawinul.
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 Piano Department at Berklee offers the most comprehensive piano education you'll find anywhere. We provide individualized instruction. We offer you professional faculty who specialize in each discipline, course work specifically designed to enhance your abilities, and abundant playing opportunities.
We respect the classical traditions of piano instruction. We also understand that the piano is a versatile and expressive instrument that can be effective in any musical style, and we know how its potential fits into today's music world. Studying at a school that offers you this full range of knowledge is the most important way for you to turn your playing into a career.
Studying Piano at Berklee
At Berklee, you will find your own voice and develop your own style. You will not 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. Piano Department instruction emphasizes a foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance—scales, arpeggios, exercises such as Hanon, Czerny, and Pishna—as well as materials designed to help you master the many combinations of classical, jazz, pop, and rock styles common in today's music. We also provide intensive training in sight-reading and in chord symbol terminology and chord voicing.
During your first week at Berklee, you will be auditioned by the piano faculty and placed with a private instructor best suited to your needs. You will participate in at least four semesters of private lessons. At the end of each semester, you must pass a final exam that covers the skills you have learned.
These group lessons bring together piano players of similar skill levels and provide training in specific aspects of piano performance. Many of the teaching materials used in these labs are created by the same Berklee faculty who will be teaching you. In addition to required lab subjects such as reading and comping, the elective labs/courses include:
- Advanced Comping (for funk/fusion, jazz, Latin, pop, roots/rock, and world beat styles)
- Advanced Reading
- Classical Repertory for Two Pianos
- Hammond Organ Techniques
- MIDI Performance
- New Music Improvisation
- Performance Ear Training for Keyboards
The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated so that they consistently reflect today's musical needs. In classes such as Contrapuntal Jazz Improvisation, Improvisational Theory, Piano Accompaniment Techniques, and Survey of Piano Styles, you will learn the history of your instrument, analyze its present-day challenges, and pursue an in-depth study of styles and techniques.
Through ensembles, you will hone essential performance skills and techniques. They help you broaden your stylistic range, give you experience playing with a variety of groups, and expand your network of musical friends and colleagues. Ensembles are offered in multiple sections with 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.
More than 270 ensembles rehearse weekly at Berklee. These groups reflect nothing less than a full range of musical expression:
- Avant-garde Ensemble
- Berklee Recording Orchestra
- big band ensembles
- Chord Scale Madness Ensemble
- commercial pop/rock recording ensembles
- electronic/synth Ensembles
- funk bands
- fusion/rock ensembles
- Latin ensembles
- small group jazz ensembles
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 piano professionals have included Kenny Barron, George Cables, Cyrus Chestnut '85, Chick Corea, Hal Galper '57, Barry Harris, Billy Joel, Andy Laverne, Lyle Mays, Don Muro, Danilo Perez '88, Kenny Werner '68, and James Williams.
The Piano Club
Open to all piano principals, the Piano Club hosts guest performers/speakers, informal student performances, regularly scheduled meetings, and other events determined by the group. This organization is completely managed by students and sponsored by the Student Activities Office.
All of the Piano Department's private teaching studios are equipped with two pianos to enable the teacher to play along or demonstrate. The studios have either a Yamaha Disklavier for recording and immediate playback or a Yamaha Clavinova digital electronic keyboard for rhythmic accompaniment and a wide variety of instrumental colors. You will also have access to more than 80 practice studios. In addition, there are larger group instruction rooms complete with the latest in digital electronic keyboards. Audiotape players, CD players, and digital sequence playback systems are used extensively for listening/analysis and for play-along purposes. Piano Department performances are often videotaped for subsequent faculty and student analysis.
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 work intensively with men and women who have been living that career. Berklee's piano faculty are innovative educators as well as experienced professional musicians. Their expertise in contemporary piano and keyboard techniques and technology makes them invaluable teachers. Berklee also is home to one of the largest and most diverse piano faculties in the world. Whether you wish to emphasize one musical style or prefer to explore a wide variety of styles, you will work with teachers who understand and demonstrate the highest standards.
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 resumé 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. Piano Week, which takes place during the spring semester, features major concert events, equipment demonstrations, industry exhibits, and clinics spotlighting visiting artists and piano faculty members.
Berklee Summer Programs
In addition to Berklee's full-time course of study, the college also offers summer programs focusing on a variety of instruments and music topics. In particular, the Five-Week Summer Performance Program covers all aspects of performance. It includes classes, workshops, and participation in ensembles as well as private lessons, lecture/demonstrations by faculty and visiting artists, and exposure to the latest innovations in music technology.
For Further Information
For further information about the Piano Department, contact the Piano Office at 617 747-2277. The Piano Department also offers a monthly email newsletter listing piano-related performances and workshops in the Boston area, with an emphasis on jazz and classical styles. To subscribe, simply send us a blank email.
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.