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.
As a performance major, you will learn the skills, concepts, and methodology sufficient to demonstrate a level of proficiency on your principal instrument typical of that generally required in professional performance. This is achieved through private lessons, which include proficiency-based final exams, instrumental or vocal labs, and performance studies classes. To demonstrate mastery of these skills, you will complete a performance portfolio, including a senior recital, that typifies current professional performance standards. This is supported by four recital preparation lessons, the jury, and extracurricular and cocurricular concert performances.
As part of this major, you will attend recital classes and take specialized courses in ear training and harmonic applications designed to develop your improvisational skills; you'll also participate in classes given by visiting master performers. Through these activities and interactions, you will develop an aesthetic and critical understanding of the meaning of quality performance, and will be able both to define quality using technical and interpretive musical criteria and to apply those criteria to your own work and to that of others.
Each performance major participates in ensembles and public performances in the college's recital halls and the Berklee Performance Center. Additional activities available through the ensemble program may include recording sessions and on- and off-campus concerts, festivals, and tours. These opportunities will allow you to develop a sufficient theoretical, conceptual, and philosophical background in the area of musical performance to be able to cope with and adjust to changes in the professional music environment.
The performance major for strings prepares students to succeed as performing artists in today's diverse and dynamic world of contemporary string playing. Instruction in this program is designed to train string players to play with high-level instrumental skill and stylistic integrity in a variety of styles, and to develop deep expertise and artistic authenticity in the style to which they feel most committed and connected.
What Will I Learn?
Upon completion of a major in strings, you will be able to:
- synthesize and integrate knowledge of posture and instrumental technique into daily practice routine;
- demonstrate technical proficiency on principal instrument, as evidenced by bowing, fingering, and tone production on principal instrument;
- play in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles;
- play in ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic orientation;
- apply knowledge of musical styles and harmonic practices in improvisation;
- synthesize and integrate knowledge of contemporary and traditional musical styles into performance;
- transcribe and perform a variety of contemporary and traditional musical styles; and
- record practice sessions, rehearsals, and performances using a variety of software.
As an enrolled Berklee College of Music undergraduate student, you will be required to declare a major field of study by your third semester.
You will be asked to complete an audition/interview through the String Department to assess potential for success as a performance major.
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.
- ILRE-375 Recital Workshop for Performance Majors
- PIST-311 Private Instruction - Strings Level 5
- PIST-312 Private Instruction - Strings Level 6
- PIST-411 Private Instruction - Strings Level 7
- PIST-412 Private Instruction - Strings Level 8
- PFSS-361 Survey of String Styles
- PSH-xxx Health and Wellness for Musicians
- PSHR-321 Harmonic Considerations in Improvisation
- RPST-211 Recital Preparation - Strings Level 3
- RPST-212 Recital Preparation - Strings Level 4
- RPST-311 Recital Preparation - Strings Level 5
- RPST-312 Recital Preparation - Strings Level 6
- RPST-411 Recital Preparation - Strings Level 7
- RPST-412 Recital Preparation - Strings Level 8
- 10 credits of approved specified electives—see the sample curriculum for labs and major electives
Sample Curriculum by Semester
A Method and a Mindset
No matter what style you pursue as a string player, you'll find faculty in the Berklee String Department who have deep knowledge and professional experience in the idiom. From working with players from the Boston Symphony to devising a jazz curriculum for the harp, you'll learn how to bring your skills to professional levels. With individualized instruction in violin, viola, cello, harp, banjo, and mandolin, you'll gain the versatility and tools you need for following your creative vision to career success.
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.