As a guitar player majoring in performance, you will learn the skills, concepts, and methodology required to demonstrate professional-level proficiency on your principal instrument. You'll achieve this through private lessons, which include proficiency-based final exams, guitar labs, and performance studies classes. The Guitar Department provides individualized instruction in both electric and acoustic guitar and the curriculum emphasizes the flexible and expressive properties of the guitar.
You will complete a performance portfolio, including a juried senior recital (supported by recital preparation lessons and classes) that meets current professional performance standards. Most students also engage in extracurricular and cocurricular concert performances, and each performance major participates in ensembles and public performances in the college’s recital halls and venues such as the Berklee Performance Center.
As a performance major, you’ll take specialized courses in ear training and harmonic applications designed to develop your improvisational skills; you’ll also participate in classes given by visiting master performers. Through these activities and interactions, you will develop an aesthetic and critical understanding of the meaning of quality performance, and you’ll be able both to define quality using technical and interpretive musical criteria and to apply those criteria to your own work and to that of others.
In addition to guitar courses, other activities available through the ensemble program may include recording sessions and on- and off-campus concerts, festivals, and tours. You will develop a sufficient theoretical, conceptual, and philosophical background in the area of guitar performance to be able to cope with and adjust to changes in the professional music environment.
Find Your Style
The Berklee Guitar Department allows you to balance the technical with the artistic, all in service of helping you find your voice on the instrument. All styles of playing are offered, including jazz, blues, funk, metal, classical, fingerstyle, and modern improvisation; and you are encouraged to focus or branch out as you wish. Shape your artistic path in a department that trained musicians such as Bill Frisell, Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Kevin Eubanks, Steve Vai, and Emily Remler, among many others.
Program at a Glance
- Demonstrate technical proficiency on the guitar, including aural skills (tuning, call and response, hearing changes, etc.), good technique and playing habits (posture, hand position), and the development of expression and tone color;
- Improvise using linear and harmonic vocabulary based on diatonic major, pentatonic, natural minor, melodic minor, harmonic minor, whole tone, diminished, chromatic, and modal theory;
- Improvise using a variety of song forms, phrase structures, rhythmic patterns, and motives;
- Play in ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic orientation;
- Synthesize and integrate knowledge of posture and instrumental technique into daily practice routine;
- Use various web-based performance applications and record performances using a variety of software; and
- Analyze and transcribe music in a variety of styles.
As a second or third semester student declaring performance as your major, you will be asked to participate in a short audition/interview with the guitar faculty. Details include:
- Audition: you will be asked to perform five minutes of prepared music;
- Format: you may choose to perform solo guitar, playing with a pre-recorded play-along track, or in a duo or trio (bass and drums)—you will provide the accompanying musicians;
- Style: the music you choose can be reflective of your own tastes with the objective of presenting your instrumental skills in the most positive light; and
- Evaluation: You will be evaluated on your potential to be an effective participant in the Performance Major, and criteria will include time, intonation, tone, touch, execution, and overall musicality. During this audition process you may be asked to perform some scales, chords, and so on, commensurate with your level of study.
There are 30 credits required for this major. To view the full program of study, which includes core music, liberal arts, and general electives, see sample curriculum for the bachelor's degree.
- ILGT-119: Guitar Styles Skills
- ILRE-375: Recital Workshop for Performance Majors
- PSH-xxx: Health and Wellness for the Musician
- PSHR-321: Harmonic Considerations in Improvisation 1
- PFSS-331: Survey of Guitar Styles
- PIGT-311: Private Instruction – Guitar Level 5
- PIGT 312: Private Instruction – Guitar Level 6
- PIGT-411: Private Instruction – Guitar Level 7
- PIGT-412: Private Instruction – Guitar Level 8
- RPGT-211: Recital Preparation – Level 3
- RPGT-212: Recital Preparation – Level 4
- RPGT-311: Recital Preparation – Level 5
- RPGT-312: Recital Preparation – Level 6
- RPGT-411: Recital Preparation – Level 7
- RPGT-412: Recital Preparation – Level 8
- 8 credits of approved specified electives