Principal Instrument: Brass

During your first semester at Berklee, you will declare a principal instrument. 

No matter what major you end up pursuing, you will complete at least four semesters of private instruction, labs, and ensembles with this instrument. This fulfills your performance core requirement.

The brass family includes:

  • baritone horn;
  • French horn;
  • trombone;
  • trombone (bass);
  • trumpet; and
  • tuba.
Entrance Requirements

During orientation, you will audition with the Brass Department to get your ensemble ratings. These are used for placement into private instruction and ensemble courses.

Learn more about placement auditions.

What the Program Gives You

Berklee prepares you for today's music by building on traditional aspects of learning. Instruction emphasizes a solid foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance. This includes the basics—breathing, embouchure, articulation, valve or slide technique—as well as theoretical studies involving scales, chords, arpeggios, and repertoire.

Upon completion of the performance core, students will:

  • synthesize and integrate knowledge of contemporary and traditional styles into musical interpretation;
  • synthesize and integrate knowledge of posture, breathing, and instrumental technique into their daily practice routines;
  • demonstrate technical proficiency on their principal instrument;
  • demonstrate the ability to sight-read music in a variety of styles;
  • play music in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles;
  • play in ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic orientation; and
  • apply knowledge of musical styles and harmonic practices in improvisation.
Required Courses

Private Instruction

All students complete four semesters to fulfill their performance core requirement:

Performance majors have an additional four semesters.
Professional music majors and music education majors have an additional two semesters.

Instrumental Labs

These group lessons bring together brass players of similar skill levels and provide training in specific aspects of brass performance such as reading, section playing, and improvisation. Most of the teaching materials used in these labs are created by the very Berklee faculty who will be teaching you.

See instrumental labs in our course catalog.


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 appeal to you, and 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 350 faculty-supervised ensembles rehearse weekly at Berklee.

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