Studying Brass 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 experience 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. Brass Department instruction emphasizes a solid foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance. This includes the basics—breathing, embouchure, articulation, valve or slide technique—as well as theoretical studies involving scales, chords, arpeggios, and repertoire.

Private Lessons

In your first week at Berklee, you will be auditioned by the brass faculty and placed with an instructor best suited to your level and your needs for private instruction. You will take at least four semesters of private lessons and be expected to pass a final exam at the end of each semester on the skills you have learned mMusic education and professional music majors will take six semesters; performance majors will take eight semesters, with extra recital preparation lessons before their senior jury and recital.)

Course Work

The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated so that they consistently reflect today's musical expectations. In classes such as Survey of Brass Styles and Jazz Improvisational Techniques, you will learn the history of your instrument and analyze its present-day challenges, and pursue an in-depth study of styles and techniques.

Instrumental Labs

These group lessons bring together brass players of similar skill levels and provide training in specific aspects of brass performance such as reading, section playing, and improvisation. Most of the teaching materials used in these labs are created by the very Berklee faculty who will be teaching you. Topics covered in the various elective labs include:

  • Reading Labs 1-3
  • Advanced Reading Lab
  • Improvisation Labs 1-3
  • Advanced Improvisation Lab
  • Technology for Brass Players


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, and 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 350 faculty-supervised ensembles rehearse weekly at Berklee. These ensembles reflect a full range of musical styles including:

  • Singing and Brass Playing
  • Brass Quintet
  • Trombone Ensemble
  • Berklee Rainbow Big Band
  • Cannonball Adderley Ensemble
  • Avant-garde Ensemble
  • Count Basie Ensemble
  • Art Blakey Ensemble
  • Berklee Recording Orchestra
  • Commercial pop/rock recording ensembles
  • Chord Scale Madness Ensemble
  • Eight- and nine-piece jazz ensembles
  • Funk bands
  • Woody Herman Ensemble
  • Jazz/Rock Ensemble
  • Latin ensembles
  • Buddy Rich Ensemble
  • Wayne Shorter Ensemble
  • Symphonic Orchestra
  • Wind Ensemble