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Berklee College

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Berklee College

This article is about the college of music in Massachusetts. For the university in California, see University of California, Berkeley.

Berklee College of Music
File:Berklee Seal.png
Motto Esse quam videri (Latin)
Motto in English To be, rather than to seem
Established 1945
Type Private
Endowment $248.7 million[1]
President Roger H. Brown
Academic staff 522[2]
Students 4,270[2]
Location Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Campus Urban
Colors Red and gray            
Mascot Mingus the Cat

Berklee College of Music, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Known primarily as the world's foremost institute for the study of jazz and modern American music,[3] it also offers college-level courses in a wide range of contemporary and historic styles, including rock, flamenco, hip hop, reggae, salsa, and bluegrass.[4] To date, 99 Berklee alumni have received 229 Grammy Awards.[5] As of 2012, Berklee College of Music also operates a campus in Valencia, Spain.


Berklee College of Music is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). NEASC is the regional accreditation agency for schools and colleges located in the New England region of the United States.


Schillinger House, 1945–1954

In 1945 pianist-composer-arranger and MIT graduate Lawrence Berk founded Schillinger House, the precursor to the Berklee School of Music.[6] Located at 284 Newbury St. in Boston’s Back Bay, the school specialized in the Schillinger System of harmony and composition[7] developed by Joseph Schillinger. Berk had studied with Schillinger. Instrumental lessons and a few classes in traditional theory, harmony, and arranging were also offered.[6] At the time of its founding almost all music schools focused primarily on classical music, but Schillinger House offered training in jazz and commercial music for radio, theater, television, and dancing. At first, most students were working professional musicians. Many students were former World War II service members who attended under the G.I. Bill. Initial enrollment was fewer than 50 students,[8] but by 1949 there were more than 500 students.[9] In 1954, when the school’s curriculum had expanded to include music education classes and more traditional music theory, Berk changed the name to Berklee School of Music, after his son Lee Eliot Berk, to reflect the broader scope of instruction.[10]

Berklee School of Music, 1954–1970

Lawrence Berk placed great emphasis on learning from practitioners, as opposed to academics, and generally hired working musicians as faculty members. Several of the school’s best-known musician-educators arrived after the school’s name changed. In 1956 trumpeter Herb Pomeroy joined the faculty and remained until his retirement in 1996.[11] Drummer Alan Dawson and saxophonist Charlie Mariano became faculty members in 1957.[12] Reed player John LaPorta began teaching in 1962.[13] Like many of Berk’s ideas, this practice continues into the present. Although far more emphasis is placed on academic credentials among new faculty hires than in the past, experienced performers such as Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, and Danilo Perez have served as faculty over the years.

Another trend in the school’s history also began the mid-’50s. During this period, the school began to attract international students in greater numbers. For example, Japanese pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi arrived in 1956.[14] Multiple Grammy-winning producer Arif Mardin came from Turkey to study at the school in 1958.[15] The number of international students has grown steadily to 24.2 percent of total enrolment in 2010 and 28% as of 2012-2013.[1]

In 1957, Berklee initiated the first of many innovative applications of technology to music education with Jazz in the Classroom, a series of LP recordings of student work, accompanied by scores. These albums contain early examples of composing, arranging, and performing by students who went on to prominent jazz careers such as Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, John Scofield, Ernie Watts, Alan Broadbent, Sadao Watanabe, and many others. The series, which continued until 1980, is a precursor to subsequent Berklee-affiliated labels. These later releases provided learning experiences not only for student composers and performers, but also for students in newly created majors in music engineering and production and music business and management.[16]

Berklee awarded its first bachelor of music degrees in 1966.[17] Members of the first graduating class to receive degrees included Alf Clausen, Stephen Gould and Michael Rendish. Gould taught film scoring at Berklee and is currently the Program Director for the Educational Leadership PhD program at Lesley University. During the 1960s, the Berklee curriculum began to reflect new developments in popular music, such the rise of rock and roll, soul and funk, and jazz-rock fusion.[17] In 1962, Berklee offered the first college-level instrumental major for guitar. The guitar department initially had nine students. Today it is the largest single instrumental major at the college. Trombonist Phil Wilson joined the faculty in 1965.[18] His student ensemble, the Dues Band, helped introduce current popular music into the ensemble curriculum, and later as the Rainbow Band, performed world music and jazz fusions.[18] In 1969, new courses in rock and popular music were added to the curriculum, the first ever offered at the college level.[17] The first college course on jingle writing was also offered in 1969.[19]

Berklee College of Music, 1970–present

The school became Berklee College of Music in 1970[20] and bestowed its first honorary doctorate on Duke Ellington in 1971.[21] Vibraphonist Gary Burton joined the faculty in 1971, helping to solidify the place of jazz-rock fusion in the curriculum.[22] As Dean of Curriculum from 1985 to 1996,[23] Burton led the development of several new majors, including music synthesis and songwriting, and facilitated the school’s transition to technology-based education.[24] Curriculum innovations during the 1970s included the first college-level instrumental major in electric bass guitar in 1973,[25] and the first jazz-rock ensemble class in 1974.[26] In 1979, Berklee founder Lawrence Berk stepped down as president.[27] The board of trustees appointed his son, Lee Eliot Berk, to replace him.[28]

Under the leadership of Lee Eliot Berk, the school underwent further growth and diversification of its curriculum. The college offered the world’s first undergraduate degree program in film scoring starting 1980.[29] Beginning in 1981, the string department curriculum expanded to include many idioms besides classical music.[30] In 1986, the world’s first college-level major in music synthesis was offered,[31] followed by the world’s first college songwriting major in 1987.[32] Instrumental majors also expanded to include the first college hand-percussion major in 1988.[33]

Berklee expanded its community outreach efforts in 1991 with the launch of City Music, a program designed to make music instruction available to underserved youth in the Boston area.[34] On a more global scale, Berklee partnered with selected music schools around the world to form the Berklee International Network in 1993.[35] Another new major, Music Therapy, was offered beginning in 1996. In 2002, the school began offering classes online through[36] Other curriculum developments included the incorporation of a hip-hop course in 2004.[37]

In 2004, Lee Eliot Berk stepped down as president of the school his father had founded and Roger H. Brown was installed as the college’s third president.[38] Under Brown’s leadership the college's enrollment has grown and diversified, admission is now highly selective, while further expansion of the school’s academic offerings have continued. In 2006, mandolin and banjo were accepted as principal instruments for the first time. The college also initiated an Africana Studies program, the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, and an American Roots Music Program.[39][40][41]


Students at Berklee are exposed to a range of instruments, musical styles, and career options, so they can explore possibilities and find their own paths. Toward that end, Berklee offers student musicians courses of study toward a fully accredited four-year baccalaureate degree or professional diploma. Students may combine many of Berklee's 12 majors, depending on the nature of the program. The dual major program requires a five-year course of study and is available to both degree and diploma candidates.

Majors offered in Berklee are Composition, Contemporary Writing and Production, Electronic Production and Design, Film Scoring, Jazz Composition, Music Business/Management, Music Education (degree only), Music Production and Engineering, Music Therapy (degree only), Performance, Professional Music, and Songwriting.[42]

In Fall 2010, Berklee's Liberal Arts Department introduced new minors that Berklee students can pursue aside from their major. These include Acoustics and Electronics, Audio Design for Video Games, Conducting, Drama, English, History, Instrument Repair, Music and Society, Performance Studies in Latin Music, Philosophy, Psychology, Theory of Jazz and Popular Song, Video Game Scoring, Visual Culture and New Media Studies, and Writing for TV and New Media.[43]

Starting Spring 2012, Berklee offers Global Studies Program students currently enrolled in Berklee College of Music in Boston. The program takes Berklee students to Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain to study courses that range in 2 areas: International Music Business and Mediterranean Music.[44]


Berklee's admission process is holistic. It focuses primarily on the audition, the interview and the applicant's previous academic record.[45]

Berklee offers three different terms for entering full-time students: the traditional fall semester, spring, and summer. Unlike other colleges, entering students may choose their own entering semester. Typically, the deadlines are November 1 (early action) and January 15 (regular action) for fall semester, July 1 for spring semester, and December 1 for summer semester.

As part of the application to the college, applicants are required to complete a live audition and interview. An integral part of selecting the entering class is the audition and interview experience, designed to show applicants' strengths while helping the school to assess applicants' talent and potential to succeed in Berklee's dynamic environment. Although there is a general format for the audition and interview, each experience is unique. Berklee considers all applicants for both admission and scholarship through the audition and interview process.[46]

Berklee College of Music's acceptance rate for Fall 2012 semester was 15%. [47]


As of the 2010–2011 academic year, total enrollment at Berklee was 4,270. Of students enrolled in degree programs, 29% are female, 11% are African American, and 10% are Hispanic. Students from 80 countries outside the U.S. account for approximately 25% of the student population. South Korea, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Italy are the top five countries of origin. In addition to students attending the Berklee campus in Boston, in the 2009–2010 academic year, approximately 2,500 students took online courses through[1]


Berklee remained at its original location at 284 Newbury Street from its founding in 1945 to 1966, when it moved into the larger 1140 Boylston St. building, the former Hotel Bostonian.[48] Beginning in 1972 an era of more rapid expansion began with the purchase of the Fenway Theatre and the adjoining Sherry Biltmore Hotel at 150 Massachusetts Avenue. The theater was renovated and opened as the 1,227-seat Berklee Performance Center in 1976.[49] The former Biltmore Hotel provided additional classroom and practice room spaces and residence halls. It also houses the library, which was renamed the Stan Getz Library and Media Center in 1998.[50] The 150 Massachusetts Avenue building is also the site of the Berklee Learning Center, which when it opened in 1993, was the world’s largest networked computer learning facility for music education.[51]

The Genko Uchida Center at 921 Boylston Street opened in 1997 and houses the offices for enrollment, admissions, scholarships and student employment, the registrar, financial aid, bursar, rehearsal and classroom space, and the 200-seat David Friend Recital Hall.[52] At 939 Boylston Street, Café 939, the nation’s only student-run, all-ages night club, hosts a full program of student performers, local and national acts, and community programs.

As of 2011, Berklee occupies 21 buildings primarily in the Back Bay area of Boston, near the intersection of Boylston Street and Massachusetts Avenue.[1] Within these buildings are 13 recording studios, 5 film/video scoring and editing facilities, and 9 music synthesis facilities.[53] The studios of the five-channel, commercial-free Berklee Internet Radio Network (BIRN), which launched in 2007, are also housed on campus.[54] A new Liberal Arts building at 7 Haviland Street was dedicated in 2010. It houses the Liberal Arts, Music Therapy, and Music Business Departments, as well as the Africana Studies program.[55]

In early 2011, Berklee College of Music announced its master plan of building 3 new buildings along the Massachusetts Avenue. First expected to be completed by Fall 2013 is the 16-story mixed-use building at 160 Massachusetts Avenue. This building will include 370 dorm rooms, a two-story cafeteria, a performance center, recording studios, and retail space. The second building is going to be built at the top of existing 130–136 Massachusetts Avenue (The Berklee Performance Centre). The new building is expected to house additional 450 students, as well as a state-of-the-art performing center, in its 24-story tall building. The third building is planned to be in 161–171 Massachusetts Avenue, which is expected to contain more academic and administrative space for the Berklee College of Music.[56] Berklee speculates that the new building will be open for Spring 2014.

Berklee Valencia

Berklee in Valencia [57] is the college’s first international campus, with a unique curriculum. With Valencia, the college offers a new way for musicians around the world to join the global music community—as performers, as practitioners, and as leaders.

The new campus is housed in the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, an iconic building designed for music and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, with an unparalleled faculty of inspiring educators and cutting-edge industry professionals. Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts is the final structure built of a grand City of Arts and Sciences concept designed by the Valencia-born and internationally known architect Santiago Calatrava, which began in 1995 and it was opened on 8 October 2005. Students in Valencia also benefit from a city where music is essential to its history and its citizens, and that offers exposure to a panoply of cultures, audiences, and master musicians. Students are in direct connection to some of the richest musical cultures in the world—including South America, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa.[58]

Master's Degree Programs

Berklee Valencia campus focuses primarily on graduate programs in the following areas: Contemporary Studio Performance; Contemporary Writing and Production; Electronic Production and Design; Global Entertainment and Music Business; Symphonic Band Studies; and Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games.

Global Music Studies

Berklee Boston undergraduates will have the opportunity to spend a semester in the new Valencia campus starting in spring 2012. A program in International Music Business Studies and a program in Mediterranean Music Studies will be offered to students who seek to specialize in the global music industry and who want to develop their skills, competences, and mindset to become leaders at an international level. In its first year, the opportunity will be offered to music business, professional music and performance majors. All credits earned will apply towards graduation. Following the semester, students may complete an internship in their field of study.

The International Career Center

This center expands international opportunities for Berklee students through a variety of initiatives that include internships for those candidates with the most talent and qualifications, and networking opportunities in the Valencia signature areas of study.

Mediterranean Music Institute

Students, experienced Berklee educators, visiting musicians, and new faculty from Spain and beyond meet in Valencia to explore the many fusions of global music prevalent in and around the Mediterranean rim. The institute will help make Berklee in Valencia a hub for the study, evolution, and proliferation of the many musical genres associated with the Mediterranean region, including

Special Programs and Professional Certificates

Berklee’s campus in Valencia regularly offers unique programs in contemporary music. These include clinics, workshops, and seminars as well as short, concentrated sessions in areas such as performance, flamenco, film scoring, music business, technology and production, and education.

Berklee Press

The Berklee Press is the publishing arm of Berklee College of Music[60] and has been publishing music instruction books since the 1970s.[61]


See also


Further reading

  • Small, Mark, "All the Right Moves – Lee Eliot Berk", Berklee Today, Vol. 15, Issue 3, Spring 2004. Interview with Lawrence Berk's son, Lee Eliot Berk, the then retiring second president of Berklee College of Music.

External links

  • Berklee College of Music official site
  • The Music Business Journal at Berklee College of Music

Coordinates: 42°20′47″N 71°5′13″W / 42.34639°N 71.08694°W / 42.34639; -71.08694

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