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.
Our String Department includes:
- acoustic strings,*
- viola, and
*We encourage qualified students whose principal instruments are not listed here to audition as an "acoustic string" principal. This category allows us to accept talented string students from a variety of musical traditions outside of the Western classical orchestra tradition. In recent years, acoustic string principals have included students whose primary instruments are cuatro, guzheng, kemancheh, oud, qanun, tamburica, tar, ukulele, and other string instruments.
What Will I Learn?
Berklee prepares you for today's music by building on traditional aspects of learning. In all instruction offered in the String Department, emphasis is placed on achieving a solid foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance, including scales and études as well as harmonic materials, contemporary scales, and arpeggio patterns and exercises played through all 12 keys.
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 string instrument.
Once accepted, you will audition with the String Department during orientation in order 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: String
- Private Instruction 2: String
- Private Instruction 3: String
- Private Instruction 4: String
Specialized labs bring together players of similar performance levels and provide training in specific aspects of string performance. The labs cover a range of genres and styles.
Browse instrumental labs in our course catalog.
Through ensembles, such as the Berklee World Strings and the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra, 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. Learn more about string ensembles.
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.
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 Orchestra 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 to follow your creative vision to career success.