Minor in Musical Theater Writing

Writing for musical theater at Berklee

The musical theater writing minor allows students to explore various aspects of creating musical theater. Students can specialize in any or all of the following: music, lyrics, book, and orchestration.

Students gain experience in collaborative songwriting for dramatic situations, and learn to integrate spoken and sung dialogue into musical numbers. Students refine and communicate a thematic statement to the world by conceiving an original piece of theater.

Students' final portfolios will include a pitch for this musical show or film, including story and highlights in the form of scenes and songs, with notation and demo recordings. Collaboration and cowriting will be facilitated and encouraged.

Entrance Requirements

There are no entrance requirements for this minor. Students must follow the regular declaration of minor procedure as outlined in the Registration Manual. This minor is managed by the Songwriting Department

What the Program Gives You

Upon completion of this program, students will:

  • demonstrate proficiency in collaborative songwriting for dramatic situations, with a specialization in music, lyrics, or both;
  • incorporate character, time, place, mood, subtext, and genre into songwriting;
  • utilize song form as a roadmap for storytelling;
  • integrate spoken and sung dialogue (recitative) into musical numbers;
  • communicate a thematic statement through an original piece of theater;
  • understand the collaborative workflow among composer, lyricist, bookwriter, orchestrator, director, music director, and performers;
  • gain competence in piano/vocal score notation; and
  • develop additional skills in optional subspecialities, including composing, orchestration, and lyrics or bookwriting.
Department: 
Required Courses

The minor consists of 10–12 credits of coursework and a final portfolio.

Required Courses (4 credits):

  • SW-345: Musical Theater Writing 1 (2 credits)
  • SW-499: Directed Study in Musical Theater Writing (2 credits)

Songwriting Elective (choose one course; 2 credits):

  • SW-211: Songwriting 1 (2 credits) 
  • SW-221: Lyric Writing 1 (2 credits)

Musical Theater Writing Electives (choose two courses; 4 credits):

  • SW-445: Musical Theater Writing 2 (2 credits)
  • PW-461: Writing the Film Musical (2 credits)
  • CW-257: Musical Theater Arranging and Orchestration (2 credits)

Musical Theater Electives (choose one or two courses up to 2 credits):

  • SW-445: Musical Theater Writing 2 (2 credits)
  • PW-461: Writing the Film Musical (2 credits)
  • COND-331: Advanced Conducting Skills for the Theater (2 credits)
  • COND-332: Theater Musical Direction (2 credits)
  • PSVC-343: Coaching Theater Vocalists (2 credits)
  • ENVC-270: Musical Theater Workshop (1 credit)
  • ENVC-370: Musical Theater Ensemble (2 credits)
  • ENVC-470: Musical Theater Chorus (1 credit)
  • ENCL-404: Musical Theater Orchestra (1 credit)
  • PST-385: Elements of Theater Production (2 credits)
  • MHIS-325: History of American Musical Theater (2 credits)
  • PSVC-132: Musical Theater for Young Audiences, Creation to Performance (2 credits)
  • Any course not taken as other electives, as above

Final Portfolio

The final portfolio will include a pitch for a musical show or film, including the story and highlights in the form of scenes and songs; alternate portfolios may be considered at the discretion of the faculty member. Portfolio material may be developed in several of the course offerings in the minor and submitted during seventh or eighth semester as part of SW-499. Portfolio work that represents collaborative writing will be encouraged but not required.

12 credits required for the major