As a student majoring in performance, you will learn skills, concepts, and methodology sufficient to demonstrate a level of proficiency on your principal instrument typical of that generally required in professional performance. This is achieved through private lessons, which include proficiency-based final exams, instrumental or vocal labs, and performance studies classes.

To demonstrate mastery of these skills, you will complete a performance portfolio, including a senior recital, that typifies current professional performance standards. You will also:

  • attend recital classes and take specialized courses in ear training and harmonic applications designed to develop improvisational skills;
  • have the opportunity to attend classes given by visiting master performers;
  • develop an aesthetic and critical understanding of the meaning of quality performance;
  • learn to use technical and interpretive musical criteria and to apply them to your work and to that of others;
  • work effectively with others in situations typically found in the professional performance field;
  • participate in ensembles and public performances in the college's recital halls and at the Berklee Performance Center; and
  • explore activities available through the ensemble program such as recording sessions, concerts, festivals, and tours.

Upon completing the major, you will have developed a theoretical, conceptual, and philosophical background in the area of musical performance that will enable you to quickly adapt to changes in the professional music environment.

Entrance Requirements


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of a major in performance, you will:

  1. Synthesize and integrate knowledge of contemporary and traditional styles into musical interpretation;
  2. Synthesize and integrate knowledge of posture, breathing, and instrumental technique into your daily practice routines;
  3. Demonstrate technical proficiency on your principal instrument;
  4. Demonstrate the ability to sight read music in a variety of styles;
  5. Play music in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles;
  6. Play in ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic orientation; and
  7. Apply knowledge of musical styles and harmonic practices in improvisation.
Read more about this program

Specific courses/requirements for the performance major vary by instrument. Please visit the instrumental departments for more information. 

General requirements are as follows (30 credits for the major):

  • PIXX-311 - PIXX-412 Private Instruction 5 - 8
  • RPXX-211 - RPXX-412 Recital Preparation 3 - 8
  • PSHR-321: Harmonic Considerations in Improvisation (Note: Not required of drum set and voice performance majors. Drum set performance majors must take PSPC-341. Voice performance majors must take PSVC-425.)
  • ILRE-375: Recital Workshop for Performance Majors 1
  • PSH-XXX: Health and Wellness courses 
  • PFSS-XXX: Styles Survey courses 

10 credits of approved specified electives chosen from the following options:

  • PFET-XXX: Performance Ear Training Courses (specific to principal instrument)
  • ENXX-XXX: Ensembles
  • ILXX-XXX: Instrumental Labs
  • PSIJ-XXX: Jazz Improvisation Courses
  • PSIM-XXX: Genre-Specific Improvisation courses
  • PSIS-P364: Melodic Variation Techniques in American String Traditions
  • PS-495: Professional Performance Internship


Assessment Evidence

Individual instrumental departments will have their own specific assessments, but generally, students will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Continuous improvement on their principal instrument via instrumental proficiencies;
  2. Ability to play in an ensemble and contribute effectively in a group setting;
  3. Peer and instructor feedback in ensemble settings;
  4. Instructor feedback during private instruction; and
  5. Successful completion of the senior recital.