All students at Berklee College of Music enter with a principal instrument. The Guitar Department offers instruction in all styles, including jazz, blues, rock, metal, funk, fingerstyle, classical, world music, microtonal music, and the avant-garde.
Every major requires four semesters of private instruction, labs, and ensembles on this instrument. This fulfills your performance core requirement.
Specific majors, such as performance, professional music, and songwriting, require or encourage additional semesters in private instruction, labs, and ensembles.
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
Berklee prepares you for today's music by building on traditional aspects of learning. In all instruction offered in the Guitar Department, emphasis is placed on achieving a solid foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance, including scales, chords, reading, improvisation, interpretation, and standard repertoire. Also included is intensive training in sight-reading and in the understanding of chord voicing.
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.
Applicants must audition with their chosen instrument when applying to the college. Learn more about auditioning with the guitar.
Once accepted, you will audition with the Guitar Department during orientation in order to get your ensemble ratings. These are used for placement into private instruction and ensemble courses. Learn more about placement auditions.
All students complete four semesters to fulfill their performance core requirement:
- Private Instruction 1: Guitar
- Private Instruction 2: Guitar
- Private Instruction 3: Guitar
- Private Instruction 4: Guitar
Specialized guitar labs bring together players of similar performance levels and provide training in specific aspects of guitar performance. The labs cover a range of genres and styles, with titles such as Blues Guitar, Electronic Effects for Guitar, Jimi Hendrix Lab, Slide Guitar Lab, Wes Montgomery Lab, and many more.
Browse instrumental labs in our course catalog.
Through ensembles, you will hone essential performance skills and techniques. They help you to broaden your stylistic range, expand your network of musical friends and colleagues, and gain diverse group playing experience.
Ensembles are offered in multiple sections for varying levels of ability. You choose the group and style that appeal to you. Your eligibility is determined by ongoing auditions that measure your growth as a performer.
More than 350 faculty-supervised ensembles rehearse weekly at Berklee.