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 brass player majoring in performance, 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, instrumental or vocal labs, and performance studies classes.
You will complete a performance portfolio, including a senior recital, that typifies current professional performance standards. This is supported by four recital preparation lessons, the jury, and extracurricular and cocurricular concert performances. Each performance major participates in ensembles and public performances in the college's recital halls and 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.
Additional activities available through the ensemble program may include recording sessions and on- and off-campus concerts, festivals, and tours. You will develop a sufficient theoretical, conceptual, and philosophical background in the area of musical performance to be able to cope with and adjust to changes in the professional music environment.
Lessons and Instruction
The brass private lesson program for performance majors helps you develop your voice style. To help challenge and improve your skills, you will be encouraged to experience other styles that interest you. Brass Department instruction emphasizes a solid foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance. This includes the basics—breathing, embouchure, articulation, and valve or slide technique—as well as theoretical studies involving scales, chords, arpeggios, and repertoire.
What Will I Learn?
Upon completion a major in performance, you will:
- synthesize and integrate knowledge of posture, breathing, and instrumental technique into daily practice routine;
- demonstrate technical proficiency on your principal instrument;
- play in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles;
- play in ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic orientation;
- demonstrate the ability to "double" on other brass instruments;
- apply knowledge of musical styles and harmonic practices in improvisation; and
- synthesize and integrate knowledge of contemporary and historical styles into musical interpretation.
To declare a major in performance as a brass player, you must have:
- a 2.75 cumulative grade point average (GPA) at the time you submit the form
- successfully passed PIBR-111 and PIBR-112
- an overall ensemble rating of 4 or above (although a rating of 3 will be considered for a probational period)
Learn more about how to declare the performance major (login required).
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
- PIBR-311 Private Instruction - Brass Level 5
- PIBR-312 Private Instruction - Brass Level 6
- PIBR-411 Private Instruction - Brass Level 7
- PIBR-412 Private Instruction - Brass Level 8
- PFSS-321 Survey of Brass Styles
- PSH-xxx Health and Wellness for Musicians
- PSHR-321 Harmonic Considerations in Improvisation
- RPBR-211 Recital Preparation - Brass Level 3
- RPBR-212 Recital Preparation - Brass Level 4
- RPBR-311 Recital Preparation - Brass Level 5
- RPBR-312 Recital Preparation - Brass Level 6
- RPBR-411 Recital Preparation - Brass Level 7
- RPBR-412 Recital Preparation - Brass Level 8
- 10 credits of approved specified electives—see the sample curriculum for labs and major electives
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Learn about financial aid, scholarships, and others ways of paying for your Berklee education.