All students at Berklee College of Music study a principal instrument and will ultimately select a major in their second semester. We offer 12 diverse majors; many students choose performance, the largest major at the college.
As a bass player majoring in performance at Berklee, you will learn the skills, concepts, and methodology required to demonstrate professional-level proficiency on your principal instrument. You’ll achieve this through private lessons, which include proficiency-based final exams, bass labs, and performance studies classes.
You will complete a performance portfolio, including a juried senior recital (supported by recital preparation lessons and classes) that meets current professional performance standards. Most students also engage in extracurricular and cocurricular concert performances, and each performance major participates in ensembles and public performances in the college’s recital halls and venues such as the Berklee Performance Center.
As a performance major, you’ll take specialized courses in ear training and harmonic applications designed to develop your improvisational skills; you’ll also participate in classes given by visiting master performers. Through these activities and interactions, you will develop an aesthetic and critical understanding of the meaning of quality performance, and you’ll be able both to define quality using technical and interpretive musical criteria and to apply those criteria to your own work and to that of others.
In addition to your bass courses, additional activities available through the ensemble program may include private lessons and group sessions with performance scholars John Patitucci and Victor Wooten, clinics with a wide variety of visiting artists, recording sessions, and on- and off-campus concerts, festivals, and tours. All of these experiences will help you develop a sufficient theoretical, conceptual, and philosophical background in the area of bass performance such that you will be ready to work effectively with others and adapt to changes in the professional music environment.
What Will I Learn?
Upon completion of a major in performance, students will:
- synthesize and integrate knowledge of posture and instrumental technique into their daily practice routine;
- demonstrate technical and music reading proficiency on a principal instrument;
- play comfortably in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles;
- play in ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic orientation;
- apply knowledge of musical styles and harmonic practices in bass line creation and solo improvisation; and
- synthesize and integrate knowledge of contemporary and historical styles into musical interpretation.
As an enrolled Berklee College of Music undergraduate student, you will be required to declare a major field of study by your third semester.
You must have a cumulative GPA of 2.7 in your performance core courses (private instruction, labs/ensembles, and ear training), and you will be asked to complete an audition and interview through the Bass Department to assess your potential for success as a performance major.
Curriculum and Courses
There are 30 credits required for this major. To view the full program of study, which includes core music, liberal arts, and general electives, see sample curriculum for the bachelor's degree.
- ILRE-375: Recital Workshop for Performance Majors
- PFSS-311: Survey of Bass Styles
- PIBS-311: Private Instruction - Bass Level 5
- PIBS-312: Private Instruction - Bass Level 6
- PIBS-411: Private Instruction - Bass Level 7
- PIBS-412: Private Instruction - Bass Level 8
- RPBS-211: Recital Preparation - Bass Level 3
- PSH-xxx: Health and Wellness for Musicians
- PSHR-321: Harmonic Consideration in Improvisation
- RPBS-211: Recital Preparation - Bass Level 3
- RPBS-212: Recital Preparation - Bass Level 4
- RPBS-311: Recital Preparation - Bass Level 5
- RPBS-312: Recital Preparation - Bass Level 6
- RPBS-411: Recital Preparation - Bass Level 7
- RPBS-412: Recital Preparation - Bass Level 8
- 10 credits of approved specified electives
Finding Your Groove
Whether it's gospel or Coltrane, Megadeth or Stravinsky, learn the skills you need as a bass player to adapt to any musical situation. You'll gain experience from a diverse and world-renowned faculty that teaches you how to set yourself up for success all within Berklee's context as the premier institution for the study of contemporary music. Come see why many of today’s most successful bass players began their careers at Berklee.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Learn about financial aid, scholarships, and others ways of paying for your Berklee education.