Berklee College of Music

Berklee College of Music is a private music college in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Known for the study of jazz and modern American music,[6] it also offers college-level courses in a wide range of contemporary and historic styles, including rock, flamenco, hip hop, reggae, salsa, heavy metal and bluegrass.[7] Since 2012, Berklee College of Music has also operated a campus in Valencia, Spain.

In December 2015, Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory agreed to a merger. The combined institution is known as Berklee, with the conservatory becoming The Boston Conservatory at Berklee.[8]

Berklee College of Music
Official Seal of the Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA, USA
Former names
Schillinger House
Berklee School of Music
MottoEsse quam videri (Latin)
Motto in English
To be, rather than to seem
Endowment$321 million[1]
PresidentRoger H. Brown
Academic staff
ColorsRed and gray[4]
Professional Arts Consortium
MascotMingus the Jazz Cat[5]
Berklee College of Music logo and wordmark


Schillinger House (1945–54)

In 1945, pianist, composer, arranger and MIT graduate Lawrence Berk founded Schillinger House, the precursor to the Berklee School of Music.[9] Located at 284 Newbury St. in Boston's Back Bay, the school specialized in the Schillinger System of harmony and composition[10] developed by Joseph Schillinger. Berk had studied with Schillinger. Instrumental lessons and a few classes in traditional theory, harmony, and arranging were also offered.[9] At the time of its founding almost all music schools focused primarily on classical music, but Schillinger House offered training in jazz and commercial music for radio, theater, television, and dancing. At first, most students were working professional musicians. Many students were former World War II service members who attended under the G.I. Bill. Initial enrollment was fewer than 50 students,[11] but by 1949 there were more than 500 students.[12] In 1954, when the school's curriculum had expanded to include music education classes and more traditional music theory, Berk changed the name to Berklee School of Music, after his 12-year-old son Lee Eliot Berk, to reflect the broader scope of instruction.[13]

Berklee School of Music (1954–70)

Lawrence Berk placed great emphasis on learning from practitioners, as opposed to academics, and generally hired working musicians as faculty members. Several of the school's best-known musician-educators arrived after the school's name change. In 1956, trumpeter Herb Pomeroy joined the faculty and remained until his retirement in 1996.[14] Drummer Alan Dawson and saxophonist Charlie Mariano became faculty members in 1957.[15] Reed player John LaPorta began teaching in 1962.[16] Like many of Berk's ideas, this practice continues into the present. Although far more emphasis is placed on academic credentials among new faculty hires than in the past, experienced performers such as Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Arif Mardin, Aydin Esen, Joe Lovano, and Danilo Perez have served as faculty over the years.

Another trend in the school's history also began in the mid-1950s. During this period, the school began to attract international students in greater numbers. For example, Japanese pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi arrived in 1956.[17] Multiple Grammy-winning producer Arif Mardin came from Turkey to study at the school in 1958.[18]

In 1957, Berklee initiated the first of many innovative applications of technology to music education with Jazz in the Classroom, a series of LP recordings of student work, accompanied by scores. These albums contain early examples of composing, arranging, and performing by students who went on to prominent jazz careers, such as Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, John Scofield, Ernie Watts, Alan Broadbent, Sadao Watanabe, and many others. The series, which continued until 1980, was a precursor to subsequent Berklee-affiliated recording labels. These later releases provided learning experiences not only for student composers and performers, but also for students in newly created majors in music engineering and production, and music business and management.[19]

Berklee awarded its first bachelor of music degrees in 1966.[20] Members of the first graduating class to receive degrees included Alf Clausen, Stephen Gould and Michael Rendish. Gould taught film scoring at Berklee and is currently the Program Director for the Educational Leadership PhD program at Lesley University. During the 1960s, the Berklee curriculum began to reflect new developments in popular music, such the rise of rock and roll, soul and funk, and jazz-rock fusion.[20] In 1962, Berklee offered the first college-level instrumental major for guitar. The guitar department initially had nine students, and today it is the largest single instrumental major at the college. 1962: Guitarist Jack Petersen accepted an invitation by Lawrence Berk, founder of Berklee, to design and chair the first formal guitar curriculum at Berklee College of Music. Berk discovered Petersen through his affiliation with the Stan Kenton Band Clinics. Trombonist Phil Wilson joined the faculty in 1965.[21] His student ensemble, the Dues Band, helped introduce current popular music into the ensemble curriculum, and later as the Rainbow Band, performed world music and jazz fusions.[21] In 1969, new courses in rock and popular music were added to the curriculum, the first ever offered at the college level.[20] The first college course on jingle writing was also offered in 1969.[22]

Berklee College of Music (1970–present)

The school became Berklee College of Music in 1970[23] and bestowed its first honorary doctorate on Duke Ellington in 1971.[24] Vibraphonist Gary Burton joined the faculty in 1971, helping to solidify the place of jazz-rock fusion in the curriculum.[25] As Dean of Curriculum from 1985 to 1996,[26] Burton led the development of several new majors, including music synthesis and songwriting, and facilitated the school's transition to technology-based education.[27] Curriculum innovations during the 1970s included the first college-level instrumental major in electric bass guitar in 1973,[28] and the first jazz-rock ensemble class in 1974.[29]

In 1979, Berklee founder Lawrence Berk stepped down as president.[30] The board of trustees appointed his son, Lee Eliot Berk, to replace him.[31] Under new leadership, the school underwent further growth and diversification of its curriculum. The college offered the world's first undergraduate degree program in film scoring starting in 1980.[32] Beginning in 1981, the string department curriculum expanded to include many stylistic idioms besides classical music.[33] In 1986, the world's first college-level major in music synthesis was offered,[34] followed by the world's first college songwriting major in 1987.[22] Instrumental majors also expanded to include the first college hand-percussion major in 1988.[35] The college was also the first third-level institution in the world to offer a course in Electric Bass Guitar. While many conservatories offer a major in Double Bass, Berklee's former bass chair Tim Appleman was a pioneer in bass education and understood the impact this change could bring.

The number of international students has grown steadily to 24.2% of total enrollment in 2010 and 28% as of the 2012-2013 academic year.[36]

Berklee expanded its community outreach efforts in 1991 with the launch of City Music, a program designed to make music instruction available to underserved youth in the Boston area.[37] On a more global scale, Berklee partnered with selected music schools around the world to form the Berklee International Network in 1993.[38] Another new major, in music therapy, was offered beginning in 1996. In 2003, the school began offering classes online through, now called Berklee Online under the leadership of Dave Kusek.[39][40][41] Other curriculum developments included the incorporation of a hip-hop course in 2004.[42]

In 2004, Lee Eliot Berk stepped down as president of the school his father had founded, and Roger H. Brown was installed as the college's third president.[43] Under Brown's leadership the college's enrollment has grown and diversified, admission has become highly selective, and significant increases have occurred in the retention (above 80% in 2016) and graduation rate (above 60% in 2015).[44][45] In 2006, mandolin and banjo were accepted as principal instruments for the first time. The college also initiated an Africana Studies program, the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, and an American Roots Music Program.[46][47][48] In October 2013, Berklee Online launched its online degree programs, and began accepting applications for the Bachelor of Professional Studies in two majors: music production, and music business.[49] In January 2014, the college launched the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (Berklee ICE), a new campus center which offers courses, workshops, research and an incubation environment to encourage music businesses startup companies.[50]

In June 2015, Berklee College of Music and The Boston Conservatory announced that the governing boards for the two schools had approved plans to pursue a proposed merger.[51][52] [53] On January 19, 2016, the two schools announced that they would be merging. The agreement was signed the next day, with Berklee College of Music being renamed Berklee, and the Conservatory being renamed The Boston Conservatory at Berklee.[54][55]

Sexual harassment allegations

In November 2017, the Boston Globe reported a culture of sexual harassment exists on the campus with three male professors allowed to quietly leave the school after student reports of sexual misconduct with teachers. Berklee's administrators released a statement saying, in part, that the college has rigorous policies and procedures in place to deal with claims of sexual harassment.[56]

On November 13, students staged a silent protest and class walkout to address the allegations of sexual harassment by teachers and staff.[57]

Also on November 13, college president, Roger Brown addressed over 1,200 students and apologized to the affected students and pledged to "root out abusive behavior." He also admitted that the school has terminated eleven faculty members in the past thirteen years due to sexual harassment and sexual assault.[58]


Berklee College of Music is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).[59] NEASC is the regional accreditation agency for schools and colleges located in the New England region of the United States.

Students at Berklee are exposed to a range of instruments, musical styles, and career options, so they can explore possibilities and find their own paths. Toward that end, Berklee offers student musicians courses of study toward a fully accredited four-year baccalaureate degree or professional diploma. Students may combine many of Berklee's 12 majors, depending on the nature of the program. The dual major program requires a five-year course of study and is available to both degree and diploma candidates.


Berklee's admission process is holistic. It focuses primarily on the audition, the interview and the applicant's previous academic record.[60]

For the 2017-2018 school year, the acceptance rate for the Berklee College of Music Boston was 57%[61]. The acceptance rate for the Boston Conservatory was 38%[62]. The acceptance rate for Berklee Online was 66%[63].

From 2014-2017, Berklee reported acceptance rates ranging from 28-36%. As of fall 2018, Admissions updated its applications reporting to count only paid applications. Previous years' totals includes all partial applications, regardless of status or payment.[64]

Berklee offers three different terms for entering full-time students: the traditional fall semester, spring, and summer. Unlike other colleges, entering students may choose their own entering semester. Typically, the deadlines are November 1 (early action) and January 15 (regular action) for fall semester, July 1 for spring semester, and December 1 for summer semester.

As part of the application to the college, applicants are required to complete a live audition and interview. An integral part of selecting the entering class is the audition and interview experience, designed to show applicants' strengths while helping the school to assess applicants' talent and potential to succeed in Berklee's dynamic environment. Although there is a general format for the audition and interview, each experience is unique. Berklee considers all applicants for both admission and scholarship through the audition and interview process.[65] Starting in 2014, the college will audition some applicants online using high speed internet technology.[66]

Berklee is known for its high cost of attendance, [67] forcing many low-income students to quit after the first two semesters, or take out large loans,[68] as the school offers only very few merit-based scholarships,[69] and close to no need-based grants.[70]


As of the 2013–2014 academic year, total enrollment at Berklee was 4,402. Of students enrolled in degree programs, 29% were female, 11% were African American, and 10% were Hispanic. Students from 100 countries outside the U.S. accounted for approximately 30% of the student population. South Korea, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and China were the top five countries of origin. In addition to students attending the Berklee campus in Boston, in the 2012–2013 academic year, approximately 5,000 students took online courses through Berklee Online.[36]


Berklee College of Music Ensemble Building
Berklee classroom building at 130 Massachusetts Avenue

Berklee remained at its original location at 284 Newbury Street from its founding in 1945 to 1966, when it moved into the larger 1140 Boylston Street building, the former Hotel Bostonian.[71] Beginning in 1972 an era of more rapid expansion began with the purchase of the Fenway Theatre and the adjoining Sherry Biltmore Hotel at 150 Massachusetts Avenue. The theater was renovated and opened as the 1,227-seat Berklee Performance Center in 1976.[72] The former Biltmore Hotel provided additional classroom and practice room spaces and residence halls. It also houses the library, which was renamed the Stan Getz Library and Media Center in 1998.[73] The 150 Massachusetts Avenue building is also the site of the Berklee Learning Center, which when it opened in 1993, was the world's largest networked computer learning facility for music education.[74]

The Genko Uchida Center at 921 Boylston Street opened in 1997 and houses the offices for enrollment, admissions, scholarships and student employment, the registrar, financial aid, bursar, rehearsal and classroom space, and the 200-seat David Friend Recital Hall.[75] At 939 Boylston Street, Café 939, the nation's only student-run, all-ages night club, hosts a full program of student performers, local and national acts, and community programs.[76]

As of 2014, Berklee occupied 25 buildings primarily in the Back Bay area of Boston, near the intersection of Boylston Street and Massachusetts Avenue.[36] Within these buildings were 40 recording studios, 5 film/video scoring and editing facilities, and 9 music synthesis facilities.[77] The studios of the five-channel, commercial-free Berklee Internet Radio Network (BIRN), which launched in 2007, were also housed on campus.[78] A new Liberal Arts building at 7 Haviland Street was dedicated in 2010. It houses the Liberal Arts, Music Therapy, and Music Business Departments, as well as the Africana Studies program.[79]

In early 2011, Berklee College of Music announced its plan of building 3 new buildings along Massachusetts Avenue. The first building, a 16-story mixed-use building at 160 Massachusetts Avenue that include 370 dorm rooms, a two-story cafeteria, a performance center, 14,000 square feet (1,300 m2) of recording studios, and retail space, opened in February 2014. Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell described it "as (a) very good building." [80] The building received the American Institute of Architects' 2015 Housing Award, being named one of the best 10 residential projects of the previous year.[81] The second building is planned to be built on top of the existing 130–136 Massachusetts Avenue (The Berklee Performance Centre). The new building is expected to house additional 450 students, as well as a performing center, in its 24-story tall structure. The third building is planned to be at 161–171 Massachusetts Avenue, which is expected to contain more academic and administrative space for the Berklee College of Music.[82]

Berklee València

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Valencia - Jan 2007
Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in València, Spain, photographed at night with the city in the background

Berklee València is the college's first international campus, housed in the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts is the final structure built of a grand City of Arts and Sciences concept designed by the Valencia-born and internationally known architect Santiago Calatrava, which began construction in 1995 and was opened on 8 October 2005.[83][84]

Special programs and professional certificates

Berklee's campus in València regularly offers unique programs in contemporary music. These include clinics, workshops, and seminars as well as short, concentrated sessions in areas such as performance, flamenco, film scoring, music business, technology and production, and education.[85]

It also offers a two-week summer performance program in addition to the five-week program in Boston.[86]

Berklee Online

Berklee Online is the online extension school of Berklee College of Music. The school delivers access to Berklee's curriculum to students around the world.[87]

Berklee Online's online music courses,[88] multi-course certificate programs,[89] and Bachelor of Professional Studies online degree programs[90] are accredited and taught by the college's faculty and industry professionals.[91] The school also provides free Berklee online music resources through Berklee Shares[92], massive open online courses (MOOCs) including Coursera,[93] EdX,[94] and Kadenze.[95]

From 2005 to 2012, the University Professional Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) awarded Berklee Online with its Best Online College Course Award. Since its inception, Berklee Online has taught more than 30,000 students from 144 countries.[96]

Former Berklee Online students include members of Nine Inch Nails, Dave Matthews Band (Stefan Lessard), Karmin (Amy Heidemann), Sugarland (Annie Clements, Brandon Bush, Thad Beatty), and Train (band).[96]

Online degree programs

In October 2013, the online school began accepting applications for its 120-credit online degree in two majors: Bachelor of Professional Studies in Music Production[97] and Bachelor of Professional Studies in Music Business.[98] In November 2014, Berklee Online added three new degree majors to its Bachelor of Professional Studies program: Electronic Music Production and Sound Design, Music Composition for Film, TV, and Games, and Interdisciplinary Music Studies, a major that allows students to build their own program based on their musical interests and goals.[99][100] Since then, the college has continued to expand their online bachelor's degree major offerings, adding Guitar, Songwriting, and Songwriting and Producing Music to the roster. The college is reportedly the first nonprofit music institution to offer regionally accredited bachelor's degrees online.[101]

See also


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Further reading

  • Small, Mark, "All the Right Moves – Lee Eliot Berk", Berklee Today, Vol. 15, Issue 3, Spring 2004. Interview with Lawrence Berk's son, Lee Eliot Berk, the then retiring second president of Berklee College of Music.

External links

Coordinates: 42°20′47″N 71°5′13″W / 42.34639°N 71.08694°W

Abe Laboriel Jr.

Abraham "Abe" Laboriel Jr. (born March 23, 1971) is an American session drummer. He is the son of Mexican bass guitarist Abraham Laboriel, nephew of Mexican rocker Johnny Laboriel, and brother of record producer, songwriter, and film composer Mateo Laboriel. He has been the drummer for Paul McCartney as well as for the French singer Mylène Farmer, among others.

Alf Clausen

Alf Heiberg Clausen (born March 28, 1941) is an American film and television composer. He is best known for his work scoring many episodes of The Simpsons, of which he had been the sole composer between 1990 and 2017. Clausen has scored or orchestrated music for more than 30 films and television shows, including Moonlighting, The Naked Gun, ALF and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Clausen received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in 1996.

Art Baron

Arthur John Baron (born January 5, 1950) is an American jazz trombonist. He also plays didgeridoo, conch shell, penny-whistle, alto and bass recorder, and tuba.

Bill Pierce (saxophonist)

Bill Pierce (also Billy Pierce) (born September 25, 1948 in Hampton, Virginia) is an American jazz saxophonist.

He played with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in the early 1980s and in Tony Williams's quintet in the mid-1980s to early 1990s. He also has released numerous CDs for which he is the band leader.He studied with Joe Viola and Andy McGhee at Berklee College of Music, and with Joe Allard. He is the school's woodwind department chair.

El Hefe

Aaron Abeyta (born August 8, 1965), better known as El Hefe or simply Hefe, from el Jefe (Spanish for "the boss") is the lead guitarist and trumpet player for the California punk band NOFX.

He started playing guitar at the age of 13, but he states that he started taking it seriously at the age of 15, joining his first band. He attended the Berklee College of Music and graduated with honors.

Abeyta was given his nickname by NOFX founder Fat Mike because at the time he joined the band in 1991, Fat Mike was dating a girl named Erin and he didn't want to cause any confusion. Singer Fat Mike suggested the name El Hefe. His first recordings with NOFX contributed to NOFX's EP, The Longest Line. He once owned a night club called 'Hefe's' in Eureka, CA. He lives in Stevenson Ranch, California. He has two children and is married to Jennifer Abeyta.

Eric Andre

Eric Samuel Andre (born April 4, 1983) is an American actor, comedian and television host. He is the creator, host, and co-writer of The Eric Andre Show on Adult Swim and played Mike on the FXX series Man Seeking Woman.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Emily Spalding (born 1984) is an American jazz bassist and singer. Spalding was raised in Portland, Oregon, and was a musical prodigy, playing violin in the Chamber Music Society of Oregon at five years old. She was later both self-taught and -trained on a number of instruments, including guitar and bass. Her proficiency earned her scholarships to Portland State University and the Berklee College of Music. In 2017 she was appointed Professor of the Practice of Music at Harvard University.She has won four Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Award for Best New Artist at the 53rd Grammy Awards, making her the first jazz artist to win the award.

Gary Burton

Gary Burton (born January 23, 1943) is an American jazz vibraphonist, composer, and educator. Burton developed a pianistic style of four-mallet technique as an alternative to the prevailing two-mallet technique. This approach caused him to be heralded as an innovator, and his sound and technique are widely imitated. He is also known for pioneering fusion jazz and popularizing the duet format in jazz, as well as being a major figure in music education from his 30 years at the Berklee College of Music.

Greg Osby

Greg Osby (born August 3, 1960) is an American jazz saxophonist who plays mainly in the free jazz, free funk and M-Base idioms.

Jean Toussaint

Jean Toussaint (born July 27, 1960) is an American jazz tenor and soprano saxophonist.

Joe Lovano

Joseph Salvatore Lovano (born December 29, 1952) is an American jazz saxophonist, alto clarinetist, flautist, and drummer. Since the late 1980s, Lovano has been one of the world's premiere tenor saxophone players, described by critic Chris Kelsey of Allmusic as "the tenor titan for our times" and relentlessly creative and innovative, earning a Grammy Award and several mentions on Down Beat magazine's critics' and readers' polls. He is married to jazz singer Judi Silvano with whom he records and performs. Lovano was a longtime member of a trio led by drummer Paul Motian.

John Robinson (drummer)

John Frederick Robinson (born December 29, 1954 in Creston, Iowa) is an American drummer and session musician. He is known for his work with Quincy Jones, including Michael Jackson's multiplatinum Off the Wall album and the charity single "We Are the World".

Robinson attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has released two solo albums: Funkshui (2004) and Platinum (2007). He was inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame in 2005.

Robinson has played on dozens of film soundtracks, including Grand Canyon, ER, My Cousin Vinny, Jerry Maguire, The Bodyguard, Independence Day, Man of Steel, Space Jam, That Thing You Do!, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Kenny Werner

Kenny Werner (born November 19, 1951) is an American jazz pianist, composer, and author.

Kenzie (songwriter)

Kim Yeon-jung (Hangul: 김연정), known professionally as Kenzie, is a South Korean songwriter signed under S.M. Entertainment. She has composed dozens of songs for S.M. label-mates including BoA, Isak N Jiyeon, Super Junior, The Grace, TVXQ, Girls' Generation, SHINee, f(x), EXO, Red Velvet and NCT.

List of Berklee College of Music alumni

The following contains a list of notable alumni of Berklee College of Music. Members of this list have attended Berklee for at least one full-time semester (not including honorary degrees or summer programs) and are notable in their respective field in the music industry. Some list members may have achieved notability in the entertainment industry unrelated to music, or may be notable for achievements not related to music or entertainment.

Makoto Ozone

Makoto Ozone (小曽根真, Ozone Makoto, born March 25, 1961 in Kobe) is a Japanese jazz pianist.

He began playing organ at two and by seven was an improviser. He appeared on Japanese television with his father from 1968 to 1970. At twelve he switched to piano after being impressed by albums by Oscar Peterson. In 1980 he entered the Berklee College of Music and later worked with Gary Burton. He also had his debut in 1983 before returning to his native Japan.

Ozone has collaborated with vocalist Kimiko Itoh. They appeared as a duo at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and he produced her album Kimiko, which won the 2000 Swing Journal jazz disk grand prix for Japanese vocalist.In September 2003, Ozone was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.

Mick Goodrick

Mick Goodrick (born June 9, 1945 in Sharon, Pennsylvania) is an American jazz guitarist who has spent most of his career as a teacher. In the early 1970s, he worked with Gary Burton and Pat Metheny.

Neil Stubenhaus

Neil Stubenhaus is an American bass guitarist.

Vinnie Colaiuta

Vincent Peter Colaiuta (born February 5, 1956) is an American drummer who has worked as a session musician in many genres. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1996, and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2014.

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