The Percussion Department at Berklee offers the most comprehensive percussion education you'll find anywhere. We provide individualized instruction for the following instruments: 

  • Drum Set
  • Vibraphone
  • Hand Percussion—Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern/North African, and West African styles; stick drums (timbales, drum set, etc.), hand drums, and all accessory percussion instruments
  • Orchestral Percussion—snare drum, mallet percussion, timpani, hand percussion, multiple percussion, and drum set technique
  • Marimba
  • Steelpan

Regardless of which major you choose, percussion principals can study with faculty who specialize in each of these disciplines, explore courses designed to enhance your abilities, and take advantage of abundant playing opportunities.

Many of today's most successful percussion players began their careers at Berklee, including Cindy Blackman, Gary Burton, Will Calhoun, Tommy Campbell, Terri Lyne Carrington, Vinnie Colaiuta, Joey Kramer, Mike Portnoy, John "J.R." Robinson, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Steve Smith, and Antonio Sanchez.

They came to Berklee because of who we are: the world's largest independent music school and the premier institution for the study of today's music. Learn more about our alumni and their careers.

Watch this video about studying percussion 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 experiment with other styles that interest you so that you can challenge yourself and improve your skills. 

Watch Berklee Percussion Department faculty and students perform in a variety of styles:

We also know the place percussion holds in today's music world, from the traditional drum set role to MIDI controllers, from mallet techniques to the influx of world music. Percussion is versatile and expressive, and can be effective in any musical style. Studying at a college that offers you all those musical styles, as well as a complete practical music education, is the best way for you to turn your playing into a career.

Watch Berklee students record orchestral percussion parts:

Percussion Department Mission

The mission of the Percussion Department is to educate, train, and develop students to excel in music as a career.

Developing the musicianship of all our students is the foundation of our curriculum. We believe that the lessons and qualities derived from that work—the self-discipline needed for excellence, the empathy required of music making, and the openness and inquisitiveness essential to creativity—are critical to achievement in any pursuit, musical or otherwise, and that music is a powerful catalyst for personal growth, which is central to any collegiate experience.

Our comprehensive curriculum is distinctly contemporary in its content and approach, and covers the principal musical movements of our time. Through a course of scholarly and practical learning experiences integrating performance and writing, our curriculum covers the variety of influential styles, relevant technologies, and career opportunities open to today’s music professional.