Berklee Percussion Festival

What's the program like?

Whether you play drum set, hand percussion, steelpan, marimba, or vibraphone, explore all the possibilities in a world of rhythm. The festival will enrich your repertoire with different methods for improvisation, percussion craft, effects, sound, rhythm, and performance skills. Through clinics, concerts, and personalized ensemble instruction Berklee's faculty and visiting artists will guide you through a variety of styles and take your percussion skills to the next level.

The program’s curriculum include principal instrument and ensemble classes in the following areas of specialty: jazz drum set, rock drum set, fusion drum set, funk drum set, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian drum set, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian hand percussion, West African hand percussion, orchestral percussion, vibraphone, marimba, and steelpan.

Aside from the hands-on instruction from our world-class faculty, the Berklee Percussion Festival also offers a diverse array of educational and performance-based activities, including concerts, clinics, and master classes presented by such renowned guest artists as Harvey Mason, Victor Lewis, and Calixto Oviedo Mulens. Additionally, students in the program will have the opportunity to participate in nightly jam sessions in a wide range of musical styles.

If you are also interested in enrolling at Berklee full-time, there are several benefits to attending the Percussion Festival:

  • find out what it takes to succeed in music and at Berklee;
  • study with Berklee faculty;
  • learn about admission, audition, and scholarship requirements;
  • get a head start on your full-time studies; and
  • get to know Boston, New England's hub of culture and academia.

Who are the instructors?

All classes and ensembles will be taught by members of Berklee's internationally renowned percussion faculty, as well as by visiting artists.

Visiting Artists

Past guest artists have included Will Calhoun, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Trichy Sankaran, Steve Smith, Dafnis Prieto, Pete Locket, Francisco Mela, and Pedro Martinez. 

What's the schedule?

The festival begins Friday, June 19, with registration and auditions in the morning, master classes and faculty concerts throughout the day, and a special evening faculty concert. The program will feature the following:

  • two hours of class on your principal instrument;
  • a one-hour styles class on instruments related to your principal instrument (including a rhythm section in each class);
  • nightly jam sessions and repertoire classes in all styles; and
  • a final student jam session on the last day.

Other highlights include rhythm classes on drum set through the 1960s and since the 1960s, a steelpan concert, a hip-hop ensemble workshop, an Afro-Cuban music clinic, a concert percussion clinic, faculty concerts, and visiting artist clinics and performances. There will be ongoing percussion industry exhibits each day at which you can see the latest instruments, equipment, and educational materials.

The final day of the festival will include student concerts, a faculty clinic performance, a closing ceremony, a featured R&B clinic performance and the Faculty Blowout Concert. Family and friends are welcome to attend the last day's activities by requesting free tickets from the Percussion Department.

Do I need to bring an instrument?

All percussion instruments, except steelpan, will be available for use in classrooms, ensembles, and jam sessions. There are also limited practice facilities available for Percussion Festival participants. However, drummers and mallet players need to bring their own sticks, brushes, and mallets. Some students may be more comfortable bringing their own bass drum pedals. We discourage drummers from bringing their own cymbals due to the fact that all Berklee cymbals and cymbal stands are locked. Also, we suggest bringing music manuscript paper and notebooks for keeping notes.

Where will I eat and sleep?

Applicants will be sent information and an application for residence hall housing once accepted into the program. Most program participants elect to stay in the Berklee residence halls; however, space is limited. To optimize your chances for on-campus housing, you must return the housing application immediately upon receiving it.

To be eligible to live in the residence hall, you must be 15 years of age by the start of the program. If you apply to the program after mid-May, please call the Housing Office at 617 747-2292 to find out if residence hall space is still available.

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