Studying Bass at Berklee

In Berklee's Bass Department, you will find the tools you need to maximize your potential and define your voice as you advance both your instrumental technique and your knowledge of music. You'll find a virtually unlimited array of stylistic directions to explore. We encourage you to be broad in your approach and to pursue diverse interests in music so that you can challenge yourself, improve your skills, and develop the versatility often required of a professional music career.

Watch the videos below for a taste of the stylistic diversity of Berklee bass students:

Private Lessons

During your first week at Berklee, after an assessment by Bass Department faculty, you will be placed with a private instructor best suited to maximize your strengths and target your weaknesses for improvement. You will have four to eight (depending on your major) semesters of weekly private lessons (performance majors have two lessons per week), each concluding with an instrumental exam to demonstrate the technical and musical progress that you have made during each semester. After your first semester, you can choose to study with any of more than 20 stylistically diverse bass faculty to focus on what you need and want to learn.

Coursework and Instrumental Labs

In addition to your core courses (Harmony, Ear-Training, Arranging, and Music Technology) and instrumental lessons, the Berklee Bass Department offers more than 40 classes focusing on different styles and techniques, including Survey of Bass Styles, Jazz Masters of Bass, Gospel Bass, Slap Bass, Fundamentals of Improvisation for Bass, and Latin Bass, to name just a few. The entire technical and musical history of the bass is explored with emphasis on preparing you for the stage, the studio, and the classroom. Berklee courses are continually reviewed, evaluated, and revised to ensure that they are up-to-date and reflective of current demands that are met by today’s successful musicians.

Making Music and Ensembles

Through ensemble playing, you will hone essential performance skills and techniques, broaden your stylistic range, and put into practice all you have learned in your instrumental courses and private lessons. Your ensemble eligibility and placement is determined by ongoing auditions that measure your growth as a performer, enabling you to choose higher-level ensembles as you develop your skills.

At Berklee, there are more than 350 ensembles rehearsing each week, reflecting the full range of global musical expression, with styles ranging from classical to pop and all points in between. Some ensembles are singularly focused on and individual composer or group, while others explore a broad cross-section of a specific genre. Here is a small sample of your live playing opportunities:

  • Jazz/Rock Ensemble
  • Scofield, Carlton, Ford Ensemble
  • The Berklee Wayne Shorter Ensemble
  • Country Music Ensemble
  • Latin Ensembles
  • The Berklee Yellowjackets Ensemble
  • Small Improvisation Ensemble
  • Contemporary Small Ensemble
  • The Berklee Horace Silver Ensemble
  • The Berklee Art Blakey Ensemble
  • The Berklee Thelonious Monk Ensemble
  • Contemporary Fusion Ensemble
  • Vocal Jazz Ensemble
  • The Jazz Composition Ensemble
  • Small Bebop Jazz Ensemble
  • Funk Bands
  • The Avant-Garde Ensemble
  • Country Music Ensemble
  • Musical Theater Orchestra
  • Gospel Choir

Please note: the list above is just a small sample; see all ensembles here.