Studying Woodwinds at Berklee

At Berklee, you will find your own voice and develop your own style. You won't be limited to one direction. We encourage you to experiment with other styles that interest you, so that you can challenge yourself and improve your skills.

Berklee prepares you for today's music by building on traditional aspects of learning. Woodwind Department instruction emphasizes a solid foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance. This includes the basics—breathing, embouchure, articulation—as well as theoretical studies involving scales, chords, arpeggios, and repertoire. In addition, advanced styles, improvisation, and interpretation are studied.

Private Lessons

In your first week at Berklee, you will be auditioned by the woodwind faculty and placed with an instructor best suited to your level of ability and your needs for private instruction. You will take at least four semesters of private lessons and must pass a final exam at the end of each semester on the skills you have learned. (Music Education and Professional Music majors will take six semesters; Performance majors will take eight semesters, with extra Recital Preparation lessons before their senior jury and recital.)

Course Work

The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated to be sure they consistently reflect today's musical needs. In classes such as Survey of Woodwind Styles, you will learn the history of your instrument and analyze its present-day challenges, and pursue an in-depth study of styles and techniques. Take a look at some of the courses you can experience as part of your study.


Through ensembles, you will hone essential performance skills and techniques. They will help you broaden your stylistic range, expand your network of musical friends and colleagues, and give you experience playing with a variety of groups.

Ensembles are offered in multiple sections with 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. This system enables you to move into more advanced ensembles as you develop your skills.

More than 270 ensembles rehearse weekly at Berklee. The range of these ensembles reflects the full range of musical styles:

  • Advanced Woodwind Ensemble (woodwind quartet and quintet)
  • Art Blakey Ensemble
  • Avant-garde Ensemble
  • Berklee Recording Orchestra
  • Buddy Rich Ensemble
  • Cannonball Adderley Ensemble
  • Chord Scale Madness Ensemble
  • Commercial pop/rock recording ensembles
  • Contemporary Wind Ensemble (cutting-edge repertoire played with film, dancers, and more)
  • Count Basie Ensemble
  • 8– and 9–piece jazz ensembles
  • Flute Choir (classical)
  • Funk bands
  • Jazz Flute Ensemble
  • Jazz, funk, rock, and fusion ensembles
  • Latin ensembles
  • Saxophone quartets
  • Symphonic Orchestra
  • Trombone ensembles
  • Wayne Shorter Ensemble
  • Wind Ensemble
  • Woody Herman Ensemble