Studying Piano at Berklee
At Berklee, you will find your own voice and develop your own style. You will not be limited to one direction. We encourage you to experiment with other styles that interest you, so that you can challenge yourself and improve your skills. Berklee prepares you for today's music by building on traditional aspects of learning. Piano Department instruction emphasizes a foundation in the standard technical challenges of professional performance—scales, arpeggios, exercises such as Hanon, Czerny, and Pishna—as well as materials designed to help you master the many combinations of classical, jazz, pop, and rock styles common in today's music. We also provide intensive training in sight-reading and in chord symbol terminology and chord voicing.
During your first week at Berklee, you will be auditioned by the piano faculty and placed with a private instructor best suited to your needs. You will participate in at least four semesters of private lessons. At the end of each semester, you must pass a final exam that covers the skills you have learned.
The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated so that they consistently reflect today's musical needs. In classes such as Contrapuntal Jazz Improvisation, Improvisational Theory, Piano Accompaniment Techniques, and Survey of Piano Styles, you will learn the history of your instrument, analyze its present-day challenges, and pursue an in-depth study of styles and techniques. For a list of all Piano courses for the upcoming semester, visit our Courses page.
Through ensembles, you will hone essential performance skills and techniques. They help you broaden your stylistic range, give you experience playing with a variety of groups, and expand your network of musical friends and colleagues. Ensembles are offered in multiple sections with 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 more advanced ensembles as you develop your skills.
More than 270 ensembles rehearse weekly at Berklee. These groups reflect nothing less than a full range of musical expression:
- Avant-garde Ensemble
- Berklee Recording Orchestra
- big band ensembles
- Chord Scale Madness Ensemble
- commercial pop/rock recording ensembles
- electronic/synth Ensembles
- funk bands
- fusion/rock ensembles
- Latin ensembles
- small group jazz ensembles