Studying Bass 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. In all instruction offered in the Bass Department, emphasis is placed on achieving a solid foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance. The physical approach (including hand, finger, bowing, and holding positions) is stressed as are theoretical studies involving scales, chords, arpeggios, and prepared repertoire.

Private Lessons

In your first week at Berklee, you will be auditioned by the bass faculty and placed with an instructor best suited to your levels and your needs for private individualized 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.)

Course Work

The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated so as to be sure they are up-to-date and consistently reflect today's musical needs. In classes such as Survey of Bass Styles, Jazz Masters of Bass, Fundamentals of Improvisation for Bass, Bass in the Free Improvisation Idiom, Performance Ear Training for Bass, and Contemporary Electric Bass Styles, you will learn the history of your instrument, analyze its present-day challenges, and receive an in-depth study of styles and techniques.


Through ensembles, you will hone essential performance skills and techniques. They help you broaden your stylistic range, give you experience playing with a variety of groups, and expand your network of musical friends and colleagues. Ensembles are offered in multiple sections with varying levels of ability. You choose the group and style that appeals to you. Your eligibility is determined by ongoing auditions that measure your growth as a performer. This system enables you to move into higher level ensembles as you develop your skills.

More than 270 ensembles rehearse weekly at Berklee. These ensembles reflect nothing less than a full range of musical expression, including such groups as:

  • Buddy Rich Ensemble
  • Woody Herman Ensemble
  • Count Basie Ensemble
  • Wind Ensemble
  • Cannonball Adderley Ensemble
  • Art Blakey Ensemble
  • 8- and 9-piece jazz ensembles
  • Wayne Shorter Ensemble
  • Jazz/Rock Ensemble
  • Latin ensembles
  • funk bands
  • Berklee Recording Orchestra
  • Chord Scale Madness Ensemble
  • Avant-Garde Ensemble
  • commercial pop/rock recording ensembles