Studying Guitar 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, improve your skills, and develop your instrumental craft. We will help you to become a guitarist with a strong musical identity.

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.

Private Lessons

In your first week at Berklee, you will be given a placement audition by a guitar faculty member, and one of the chairs of the department will match you with the teacher best suited to your needs for private instruction. Every student will take at least four semesters of private lessons and must pass a final exam at the end of each semester on the skills learned. (Music Education and Professional Music majors will take six semesters; Performance majors will take eight semesters, with extra Recital Preparation lessons before their senior jury and recital.)

Course Work and Labs

The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated so that they are up-to-date and consistently reflect today's musical environment. In classes such as Guitar Performance Styles, you will learn the history of your instrument, analyze its present-day challenges, and participate in an in-depth study of styles and techniques.

Specialized guitar labs bring together players of similar performance levels and provide training in specific aspects of guitar performance. Many of the teaching materials used in these labs are created by the very Berklee faculty who will be teaching you.

There are two required labs:

  • Guitar Performance Skills
  • Guitar Style Skills (blues, funk, fusion, jazz, or rock)


Through ensembles, you will hone essential performance skills and techniques. They help you to broaden your stylistic range, to expand your network of musical friends and colleagues, and to 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. This system enables you to move into higher level ensembles as you develop your skills.

Based on your placement audition, you may be eligible for these guitar ensembles:

  • Contemporary Styles Ensemble
  • Guitar Performance Ensemble
  • Rhythm Section Ensemble

Guitar Faculty

One-on-one faculty/student interaction is crucial to your Berklee education. In preparation for a career in the music industry, it is essential that you work intensively with men and women who have been living that career already. Berklee's guitar faculty are innovative educators as well as experienced professional musicians. Their expertise in contemporary guitar techniques and technology makes them invaluable as teachers.

Berklee has the largest guitar faculty in the world. The diversity of styles and experience of our faculty means you will be exposed to the best education possible. You need not be restricted to one teacher throughout your education. You can work with any number of faculty during your time at Berklee, giving you the ultimate educational experience. View a list of guitar faculty.

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