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.
The Guitar Department provides individualized instruction in all styles, including jazz, blues, rock, metal, funk, fingerstyle, classical, world music, microtonal music, and the avant-garde.
Guitar players majoring in performance learn the skills and concepts required to demonstrate professional-level proficiency on their principal instrument. The curriculum includes private lessons, which comprise proficiency-based final exams, guitar labs, ensembles, and performance studies classes.
What Will I Learn?
- Demonstrate technical proficiency on the guitar, including aural skills (tuning, call and response, hearing changes, etc.), good technique and playing habits (posture, hand position), and the development of expression and tone color.
- Improvise using linear and harmonic vocabulary based on diatonic major, pentatonic, natural minor, melodic minor, harmonic minor, whole tone, diminished, chromatic, and modal theory.
- Improvise using a variety of song forms, phrase structures, rhythmic patterns, and motives.
- Play in ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic orientation.
- Synthesize and integrate knowledge of posture and instrumental technique into daily practice routine.
- Use various web-based performance applications and record performances using a variety of software.
- Analyze and transcribe music in a variety of styles.
As a second or third semester student declaring performance as your major, you will be asked to participate in a short audition and interview with the Guitar Department faculty. Details about this process include the following:
- For the audition, you will be asked to perform five minutes of prepared music.
- Regarding format, you may choose to perform solo guitar, playing with a pre-recorded play-along track, or in a duo or trio (bass and drums)—you will provide the accompanying musicians.
- The style of music you choose can be reflective of your own tastes with the objective of presenting your instrumental skills in the most positive light.
- You will be evaluated on your potential to be an effective participant in the performance major, and criteria will include time, intonation, tone, touch, execution, and overall musicality. During this audition process, you may be asked to perform some scales, chords, and so on, commensurate with your level of study.
Further information regarding this audition and interview process should be directed to your private lesson instructor, Larry Baione, Kim Perlak, or Rob Ruffin in room 400, 921 Boylston Street.
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.
- ILGT-119 Guitar Styles Skills
- ILRE-375 Recital Workshop for Performance Majors
- PSH-xxx Health and Wellness for the Musician
- PSHR-321 Harmonic Considerations in Improvisation 1
- PFSS-331 Survey of Guitar Styles
- PIGT-311 Private Instruction—Guitar Level 5
- PIGT-312 Private Instruction—Guitar Level 6
- PIGT-411 Private Instruction—Guitar Level 7
- PIGT-412 Private Instruction—Guitar Level 8
- RPGT-211 Recital Preparation—Level 3
- RPGT-212 Recital Preparation—Level 4
- RPGT-311 Recital Preparation—Level 5
- RPGT-312 Recital Preparation—Level 6
- RPGT-411 Recital Preparation—Level 7
- RPGT-412 Recital Preparation—Level 8
- 8 credits of approved specified electives—see the sample curriculum for labs and major electives
Sample Curriculum by Semester
Find Your Style
The Berklee Guitar Department allows you to balance the technical with the artistic, all in service of helping you find your voice on the instrument. All styles of playing are offered, including jazz, blues, funk, metal, classical, fingerstyle, and modern improvisation; and you are encouraged to focus or branch out as you wish. Shape your artistic path in a department that trained musicians such as Bill Frisell, Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Kevin Eubanks, Steve Vai, and Emily Remler, among many others.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Learn about financial aid, scholarships, and others ways of paying for your Berklee education.
Study abroad at our Valencia, Spain, campus. It is recommended that performance majors study in Valencia during their third, fourth, fifth, or sixth semester. For specific program information, please see the chair of your major or contact the study abroad office.