Ten Things Alumni Should Know About Berklee

Since my graduation from Berklee in 1983, I have observed the college's amazing evolution as a music education icon. I have watched this transformation as a Berklee in Puerto Rico program supporter, as the producer of the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest, and as a trustee.

The music industry is dramatically transforming, and Berklee has evolved in response, based on the solid fundamentals established by founder Lawrence Berk and former President Lee Eliot Berk. Current Berklee President Roger H. Brown and other college administrators have a clear and pragmatic understanding of the natural selection process: adapt or die.

If you have not met Roger, I hope you get the opportunity to do so. His passion, understanding of the essence of what Berklee is about, and commitment to the college give one confidence about the college's future as a leader in contemporary music.

I'd like to share a list of 10 things that I believe all alumni should know about Berklee.

  1. Today, Berklee is very selective in choosing incoming students and accepts only 15 percent of applicants. All are interviewed and auditioned to assess their talent, ability, creativity, and dedication.


  2. The international composition of Berklee's student body continues to be a hallmark of the college. In 2011, 28 percent of the student body was composed of international students representing 91 countries. This cultural diversity allows valuable cross-fertilization of musical concepts and styles.


  3. Berklee is no longer only in Boston. Starting in September 2012, Berklee will offer master's degrees at the Valencia, Spain, campus in contemporary studio performance; scoring for film, TV, and video games; electronic production and design; and global entertainment and music business. Undergraduate students also have opportunities to study abroad in Germany and Greece.


  4. Berklee's facilities continue to expand. A new 16-story building at 160 Massachusetts Avenue will provide 370 dorm beds, a cafeteria/performance venue, and a state-of-the-art recording facilities, with a sound stage that accommodates 60 musicians.


  5. Berkleemusic.com has successfully capitalized on the Internet as an educational tool. Under the leadership of David Kusek, the award-winning initiative offers many options to enhance music skills. Future plans include offering online bachelor of music degrees within a few years. As well, the Berklee Music Network provides information regarding job opportunities and reconnecting with other alumni.


  6. The recent curriculum review has resulted in extending private lesson blocks from 30 minutes to 50 minutes. As well, students can now minor in such areas as video-game scoring, acoustics and electronics, visual culture and new-media studies, psychology, and more.


  7. The expansion of the liberal arts curriculum offers our students a more well-rounded educational experience, an advantage in today's competitive music business industry.


  8. During the 1960s, Berklee became a pioneer by offering a performance degree in electric guitar; today, the college continues to expand the roster of principal instruments including banjo, mandolin, steel drums, and more.


  9. While Berklee is the first-and, in many cases, the only-choice for applicants, tuition costs are still unaffordable for many. To attract and retain the most talented individuals, the college has increased the available funds for scholarships and financial aid from $17.7 million in 2007 to $28 million in 2011.


  10. With the help of many, Berklee's first capital campaign raised more than $54 million. Among the new initiatives this program has funded are the Berklee Global Jazz Institute and the American Roots Music Program.


Mindful of our past, excited about our present, and confident about the future, Berklee continues to be an exceptional educational institution. As alumni, we can be proud of our alma mater and ought to share this message with prospective students. Help us in our mission to continue to shape the future of music all over the world. And help us find the next you.