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.
Turn your playing into a career with the most comprehensive percussion education found anywhere. As a percussionist majoring in performance, you will learn the skills, concepts, and methodology required to demonstrate professional-level proficiency on your principal instrument, whether that is drum set, hand percussion, vibraphone, marimba, total percussion, or steelpan. You’ll reach new levels of mastery through private lessons, which include proficiency-based final exams, percussion labs, and performance studies classes.
You will complete a performance portfolio, including a juried senior recital (supported by recital preparation lessons and classes) that meets current professional performance standards. Most students also engage in extracurricular and cocurricular concert performances, and each performance major participates in ensembles and public performances in the college’s recital halls and venues such as the Berklee Performance Center.
Additional activities available through the ensemble program may include recording sessions and on- and off-campus concerts, festivals, and tours. All of these experiences will help you develop a sufficient theoretical, conceptual, and philosophical background in the area of percussion performance such that you will be ready to work effectively with others and adapt to changes in the professional music environment.
In studying percussion at Berklee, you will follow in the tradition of outstanding Berklee alumni percussionists, including Abe Laboriel Jr. '93 (Paul McCartney), John Blackwell '95 (Prince, Justin Timberlake), Terri Lyne Carrington '83 (bandleader, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall), Nate Morton ’94 (The Voice), Tako Hirano ’95, (Fleetwood Mac, Dr. Dre, Cirque du Soleil), and many more.
What Will I Learn?
Graduates of the program will:
- Synthesize and integrate knowledge of posture and technique into daily practice routine.
- Demonstrate technical proficiency on principal instrument.
- Play in a variety of contemporary and traditional musical styles.
- Play in ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic orientation.
- Synthesize and integrate knowledge of contemporary and traditional musical styles into performance.
- Improvise in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles, including, but not limited to, jazz, rock, and Latin music.
- Record, mix, and edit performances using a variety of software.
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.
- IRLE-375: Recital Workshop for Performance Majors
- PIPC-311: Private Instruction - Percussion Level 5
- PIPC-312: Private Instruction - Percussion Level 6
- PIPC-411: Private Instruction - Percussion Level 7
- PIPC-412: Private Instruction - Percussion Level 8
- PFSS-341, -342, -347: Survey of Percussion Styles (varies by principal instrument)
- PSH-xxx: Health and Wellness for Musicians
- PSHR-321: Harmonic Considerations in Improvisation
- RPPC-211: Recital Preparation - Percussion Level 3
- RPPC-212: Recital Preparation - Percussion Level 4
- RPPC-311: Recital Preparation - Percussion Level 5
- RPPC-312: Recital Preparation - Percussion Level 6
- RPPC-411: Recital Preparation - Percussion Level 7
- RPPC-412: Recital Preparation - Percussion Level 8
- 10 credits of approved specified electives
Find Your Rhythm
By studying percussion at Berklee, you're joining the ranks of those who have played with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Dr. Dre to the Boston Pops. You'll develop a proficiency in the theoretical, conceptual, and artistic aspects of percussion, enabling you to carve out your own style while gaining the tools to adapt to changes in the professional music world.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Learn about financial aid, scholarships, and others ways of paying for your Berklee education.