What will my Five-Week program classes be like?

July 12–August 15, 2014

Your education at Five Week is provided by Berklee's world class faculty. Classes generally take place between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Some classes and activities may meet in the evening. All participants will be given an individual student schedule during the first week of the program.

Your classes will include:

  • Private Instruction-A half-hour lesson each week on your principal instrument.
  • Instrumental Labs-Three hours each week of instrument-specific courses to develop instrumental craft, style, and technique.
  • Ensembles-Two hours each week, including instrumental and vocal groups performing in jazz, hip-hop, rock, funk, pop, fusion, R&B, musical theater, country, and other contemporary styles such as bluegrass, Afro-Cuban, salsa, and world music.
  • Musicianship-Four hours each week to develop your musical ear, performance, reading skills, and musicianship.
  • Theory in Performance-Three hours each week studying the rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic elements of music and how they relate to your instrument (including voice).
  • Performance Perspectives-Two hours each week; performances and clinics that will introduce important career and performance instruction, information, and insight from some of the finest performers and songwriters in the music industry. Notable artists who have recently visited the Five-Week Program include John Mayer, the Bad Plus, John Blackwell, Terence Blanchard, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Billy Bragg, Guthrie Govan, Paula Cole, Larry Carlton, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Larry Coryell, Lalah Hathaway, Richie Havens, Lettuce, Wyclef Jean, Patty Larkin, Christian McBride, Lewis Nash, Patrice Rushen, John Scofield, T.M. Stevens (Shocka Zooloo), Susan Tedeschi, and many more.
  • Final Week Concerts-All students will perform this week before members of the Berklee community, faculty, fellow students, and any guests you invite. Final week concerts are scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 10 and conclude at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, August 15. More than 300 student ensembles, led by Berklee faculty, perform in concerts during the final week. Students will know when and where they will perform by the second week of the program. All of these concerts are open to the public; family and friends are welcome to attend.
  • Concert Venues-Final week concerts will take place in one of the college's performance venues, including the recital halls, Cafe 939 and the 1,220-seat, world-class Berklee Performance Center. Berklee Performance Center concerts are scheduled for the evenings of August 11, 12, 13, and 14.
  • Visiting Artists-Lectures and demonstrations by performers, songwriters, film composers, music business experts, and music professionals from every sector of the industry. Notable artists who have recently visited Berklee include Amanda Palmer, Livingston Taylor, Jane Ira Bloom, George Duke, Melissa Ferrick, Dawaun Parker, Trina Hamlin, Will Kennedy, Dave Liebman, Bob Mintzer, Bernard Purdy, Noel Redding, Derek Trucks, and many more. Visiting artist clinics are open to all students. The visiting artists are announced at the start of the program.
  • Electives
    You will be asked to choose one of the following two-hour lecture classes:

    • Songwriting-This class will examine song forms, creating melodies, and the interaction and use of rhythm and harmony. Lyric writing and ideas that will help the creative process will be explored and discussed with the instructor and guest lecturers. Technology has allowed for the easy exchange of ideas and audio files, and you'll learn new strategies and tools for improving songwriting and production through collaboration. An overview of how songs are currently used in film and TV (and other visual media) will be discussed along with the tools you'll need to place your songs and start earning royalties in this fast-developing industry.
    • Music Business-You will gain an understanding of tour promotion, planning, artist management, how your creative works are protected by U.S. copyright law and promoted by publishers, the contractual relationship between artists and record labels, and much more.
    • Great Performers-Through the use of audio and video recordings, you will learn about the contributions of influential performers in the R&B, hip-hop, rock, pop, and jazz idioms. Topics will include analysis of each performer’s works, improvisational techniques, biography and more.
    • Electronic Production and Design-An introduction to the world of music technology, geared to the needs of today's professional musician. The course topics will give an overview of all aspects of the current tools, technology, and techniques for desktop music production including basic sequencing techniques, MIDI editing, introduction to virtual instruments, sample manipulation and industry-leading DAWs.
    • Survey of Recording Styles-Explore studio equipment,  technical aspects of recording (e.g., logarithms, decibels), and various studio procedures and processes will be discussed and demonstrated in one of Berklee’s recording studios.
    • Jazz Composition and Arranging-You will be introduced to composing and arranging techniques used by important jazz artists. Topics include processes used to create and harmonize melodies, the art of orchestration, song and arrangement form, and music analysis.
    • Groove Essentials for All Instruments-Examine many of the essential grooves that continue to define contemporary music. The styles examined will include funk, hip-hop, and music from Brazil and Cuba. Music examples and scores will be examined to analyze the rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic components of each style. Documentaries will be shown to support the historical and social aspects of these styles with an emphasis on the innovators who made them popular.
  • Optional Electives
    The following classes are in addition to the electives above. Optional electives meet in the evening. Seating is limited.

    • Drum Circle-Available to all students. This weekly workshop provides an opportunity to develop performance skills using various percussion instruments from around the world.
    • Exploring the Artist Within-Designed for vocalists, songwriters, instrumentalists, and composers, this class will help you to get in touch with your artistic identity. Through a series of innovative exercises this unique artist circle will allow you to discover your true musical voice: the artist within. The next time a bandleader, producer, or fellow musician asks you to be yourself and play what you feel, you will be prepared.
    • Five-Week Chorus-All students are welcome.  The chorus will feature part-singing in styles from pop, classical and jazz. Note: Non-voice principals are welcome; reading is a plus, but not required. The chorus performs in the Berklee Performance Center during the final week.
    • Musical Theater Workshop-You will be introduced to the skills and techniques needed to perform in musical theater. Emphasis will be placed on audition techniques, including developing your book (repertoire), song selection and development, identifying songs appropriate for your individual style and for the roles which you may want to audition. You will rehearse and perform—individually and in groups—scenes and musical numbers from a variety of productions at the end of the program.
    • Turntable Technique-Develop a basic skill set of turntable techniques, including cueing, mixing, beat matching, cutting, and scratching. By tracing the transformation of the turntable into a musical instrument, you will learn of its development as a major expression of hip-hop culture and thus understand its prominence in contemporary music. This course is open to all students, and no prior experience is required.
    • Poetry Slam and Performance-Learn to “own the stage” in this workshop dedicated to the electric art of poetry slam and spoken word. With equal emphasis on the writing and performance of compelling poetry, you'll learn to liberate your true voice, free your body on stage, and communicate your ideas with unstoppable power. Dive into poetry writing and editing exercises, exploring different ways to use your voice, and learn stage movement techniques designed to emphasize your own unique and creative personality.
    • Movement for Musicians-Available to all students. This course is designed to increase awareness of your technical and creative abilities through experiencing movement and how it relates to your stage performance. You will be encouraged to explore your capacity and range of movement, realizing its aesthetic, physical, and visual possibilities. The technique portions of the class will emphasize increasing the body’s flexibility, strength, control, and body awareness. Choreographic exploration will concentrate upon the use of space, dimension, time, rhythm, energy, and contrast through improvisation and development of movement phrases.
    • Singer-Songwriter Workshop-This class will provide an opportunity for singer-songwriters to write and perform their own songs and to learn the tools of the trade. The class will focus on the song, how it's created, and how it is used to express and communicate the songwriter's feelings and stories to the audience. You will develop the tools and techniques used by songwriters today and participate in facilitated song critiques with your classmates. The class will culminate with you performing one of your own songs at Cafe 939 in Boston.
  • Additional Performance Opportunities

Performance is the centerpiece of Five-Week. During the five weeks, you will have many opportunities to put your course work into    action. Additional performance opportunities available to you include:

  • Jam Sessions-Tuesday and Thursday night jam sessions are open to all. This is a great way to get to know other students and explore your own potential in informal group situations.
  • Recording Studio Sessions-For selected ensembles to record in one of Berklee's 10 state-of-the-art recording studios.
  • Recording Sessions for Vocalists-Vocalists will have the opportunity to record a song in a professional recording studio, singing with prerecorded tracks or with their own accompaniment.
  • By-Audition Performance Opportunities
    • Performing Songwriter Showcase-Auditions are open to all students. You may perform an original or cowritten song by signing up to audition in the Student Activities Center during registration. A panel of Berklee faculty will select students to perform their songs in a series of showcases scheduled during the fourth week of the program in the Berklee Performance Center and Cafe 939.
    • Singers Showcase-Vocalists may audition during the first week of the program, to be one of ten featured vocalists: five soloists and five background vocalists, who will perform in the Berklee Performance Center during the fifth week of the program. Students will perform arrangements written especially for them and performed with a band of selected Berklee students.
    • Instrumental Showcase-Instrumentalists may audition during the first week of the program for an opportunity to perform in one of three all-star instrumental groups. These groups will perform in the Berklee Performance Center under the direction of Berklee instrumental faculty during the fifth week of the program.
    • Musical Theater Showcase-Auditions for the Musical Theater Showcase are open to all students during the first week of the program. Vocalists may audition for lead and supporting roles. Instrumentalists may audition for a chair in the Musical Theater Ensemble. Students selected for the Musical Theater Showcase will perform in the Berklee Performance Center during the final week of the program.
  • Student Activities-The Student Activities Center, in collaboration with the Five-Week Office, welcomes you to Berklee and to Boston with a dynamic two-day orientation program complete with student performances, jam sessions, introductions to Berklee resources, and community-building social events. Over the course of the Five-Week program, the Student Activities Center organizes a host of activities meant to connect the Five-Week community and encourage students to take advantage of the student experience that Berklee and the City of Boston have to offer. Past activities include group outings to movies and concerts, trips to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and hikes on local trails. Planned ongoing events have included caf shows (concerts in the Berklee dining hall run by students for students), game nights, and dance parties. Students are bound to find something of interest and meet a few friends along the way. While the specific offerings may change from year to year, the Student Activities Center promises there will be plenty to do. We recommend that all Five-Week students stop by the Student Activities Center to hang out, watch television, play games, or learn about getting involved. For more information about Student Activities at Berklee, contact studentactivities@berklee.edu.