'A Time to Be Heard': What Performers Can Expect This Fall

The Professional Performance Division offers guidance on what courses and private instruction will look like this upcoming semester.

August 14, 2020

One of the biggest questions to emerge out of Berklee’s decision to open this fall in a fully remote model has been, "But what does this plan mean for those studying performance?" Many students are wondering whether

remote versions of ensembles and private lessons can achieve the same results as its physical counterpart.

Faculty and divisional leadership have spent the summer focusing on making sure each department is set up to offer not just a suitable replacement for on-campus classes, but a curriculum that will call students up to a high, distinctly-Berklee standard all its own. Ron Savage, dean of the Professional Performance Division, weighed in on the topic from both practical and artistic perspectives, saying, “We want you to be safe, we want you to be engaged, and we want this to be productive, leading to your long-term success as artists.”

Envisioning a Remote Curriculum for Performers

Kim Perlak, chair of the Guitar Department, spoke in a recent video (see below) addressed to returning students about what the course offerings will look like across departments in the Professional Performance Division. “Each instrumental department in the performance division is offering a full range of labs, department ensembles, and performance studies courses," she said. "These intensive classes focus on stylistic topics and skillsets. Each course has been specifically redesigned for our remote campus format.”

"This semester will undoubtedly be a unique chapter in Berklee’s history, and we’re looking at our recital prep lessons through a new lens," Walter Smith, chair of the Woodwind Department, added, speaking to the tailor-made aspect of the remote curriculum as it relates specifically to private lessons and recital preparation.

“We’re doing this because we can’t afford to wait to hear your voices. Our society is dependent on it.”

—Ron Savage, dean of the Professional Performance Division

Smith also highlighted that the lessons they've learned over the spring and summer have actually created a new kind of connection that is every bit as valuable as meeting on campus. “Our remote private lesson curriculum will continue to connect with you on the most important aspects of your music and artistry. We’ve actually found that over the spring and summer semesters that even though we’re apart from each other physically and experiencing our lessons in a virtual environment we see deeper connections between students and teachers.

Artist Voices Matter More Than Ever

The logistical plans support the college’s commitment to creating a generative space for student performers, who, according to Savage, we need now more than ever. “This is your time to be heard,” he said. “We don’t want the pandemic to slow down the development of [your] voices. We’re doing everything in our purview to make sure you have the tools and the skills to speak from your most authentic voice.”

“This is not a throwaway semester to us,” Savage continued, emphasizing that Berklee's concern goes far beyond enrollment. “We’re doing this because we can’t afford to wait to hear your voices. Our society is dependent on it.”

Watch performance faculty and chairs break down what the fall semester will look like:

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