The Percussion Department principal instruments include:
- Drum Set
- Hand Percussion—Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern/North African, and West African styles and associated instruments
- Orchestral Percussion—snare drum, mallet percussion, timpani, hand percussion, multiple percussion, and drum set technique
All students at Berklee College of Music enter with a principal instrument.
No matter what major you end up pursuing, you will complete at least four semesters of private instruction, labs, and ensembles with this instrument. This fulfills your performance core requirement.
What Will I Learn?
Upon completion of the performance core, students will:
- synthesize and integrate knowledge of contemporary and traditional styles into musical interpretation;
- synthesize and integrate knowledge of posture, breathing, and instrumental technique into their daily practice routines;
- demonstrate technical proficiency on their principal instrument;
- demonstrate the ability to sight-read music in a variety of styles;
- play music in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles;
- play in ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic orientation; and
- apply knowledge of musical styles and harmonic practices in improvisation.
Applicants must audition with their chosen instrument when applying to the college. Learn more about auditioning with a percussion instrument.
During orientation, you will audition with the Percussion Department to get your ensemble ratings. These are used for placement into private instruction and ensemble courses. Learn more about placement auditions.
Curriculum and Courses
All students complete four semesters to fulfill their performance core requirement:
- Private Instruction 1: Percussion
- Private Instruction 2: Percussion
- Private Instruction 3: Percussion
- Private Instruction 4: Percussion
Specialized labs bring together players of similar performance levels and provide training in specific aspects of percussion performance. Labs cover a range of skills such as basic grips, sticking techniques, basic time feels, and snare drum/drum set reading skills, as well as more advanced chart/lead sheet reading, brush techniques, odd meters, polyrhythms, and improvisation studies.
Browse instrumental labs in our course catalog.
Through ensembles, you will hone essential performance skills and techniques. They help you to broaden your stylistic range, to expand your network of musical friends and colleagues, and to gain diverse group-playing experience.
Ensembles are offered in multiple sections for varying levels of ability. You choose the group and style that appeal to you. Your eligibility is determined by ongoing auditions that measure your growth as a performer.
More than 350 faculty-supervised ensembles rehearse weekly at Berklee.
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.