Berklee School of Music

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by phunkjam, Oct 22, 2001.

  1. Hey All,

    I've been pondering my choices for college, and my priority is to get into one with a good music program. I was wondering if any of you have any information or personal experience of the Berklee School of Music. Is it hard to get into? I'm applying for a summer music camp there; hopefully I'll get in. If you could give some info. I'd appreciate it.

    Keep on groovin'...

  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
  3. BWB


    Aug 30, 2000
    Knoxville TN
    I didn't go there - but two former bandmates of
    mine both went. They basically felt like while they
    did get a quality music education it left them
    woefully unprepared for real life like the 'rest' of
    us. 'Rest' of us meaning those who went to
    regular old 4 year colleges and then went off into
    the working world. One of the two of them
    ended up enrolling at Carnegie-Mellon and going
    for another four years to get a degree. The other
    one, at last touch was 32 years old, wailing on
    the keyboards in a cover band by night and
    holding down a fabulous $7/hr. cashier gig at
    a drugstore. Your mileage may vary.

  4. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Watxh out for a guy that calls himelf ASSVITUOSO13.:D
  5. BenF


    Mar 29, 2001
    Boston area
    Scott's right. If you don't plan on doing music for the rest of your life I'd avoid Berklee. Go to a regular college, get a degree in a guaranteed money-maker of a subject, minor in music and do music part time once you graduate. You'll have a skill to fall back on, be comfortable financially and have extra cash for all the gear you've always wanted. You can always take lessons on the side while you're in school or can even go to Berklee later if you want.

    If you decide to go to Berklee, think about studying one of practical subjects, like Production and Engineering or Film Scoring. A degree in Performance sounds nice but isn't going to have a lot of job stability. Also, after the first year you should re-evaluate your commitment to music in a really hard, cold way. Is it really for you? Have you got the stomach to last through lean times that WILL come your way? (A little over the top, I know.)

    Are you a big fish in a small pond right now? I was and Berklee was a rude awakening. The skills you'll see on display every day will be truly humbling. For example, I've measured every drummer since then by the guy who was in my fusion band at school. I have not played with ANY drummer better than him in the past 10 years (and I've played with a lot), and he was only 18 at the time. Eight-f*cking-teen. Basically, there is a very small number of first call students who do the bulk of the shows and ensembles. They usually don't go for the full four years, they're there for a year or two, then they go off to the real world. Most of what they do while at school is networking. First call players that were at Berklee when I was: Bryan Beller, Matt Garrison, Wes Wehmiller, Abe Laborial Jr., I could go on..(note: I didn't know them personally, they were on a whole different plane of existance.) I remember the leader of the fusion band saying, absentmindedly, "I wonder if I could get Matt Garrison in the band," I stammered, "Yeah, good idea." He didn't mean any harm, but, come on, what the heck else could I have said that would have made any sense? "Yeah, but I, like, play Ibanez..and..uh..never mind...:)

    Think very carefully, it's not for everyone, and remember that the phrase "success in the music biz" has many interpretations.

    Glad to get that rant off my chest...

    Ben F.
    Berklee class of '93.
  6. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    I and three of my fellow bandmates went to Berklee, in my case for one year waaaaaay back in 1978 :eek: . I later went to University of Miami, so I guess I can give you a bit of a perspective on two out of three of perhaps the best-known and most "prestigious" schools that emphasize non-classical music.

    I could go on and on about the pros and cons of going to music school in general and Berklee in particular. Email me Nate and I'll get into specifics if you'd like. But just as general advice to anyone out there, if you go to college at all STAY IN AND GET A REAL DEGREE IN ANY SUBJECT!

    Schools like Berklee, the University of Miami, North Texas State, etc., rely heavily on their reputations to attract new students. But beware...they are not factories that turn everyone who walks in the door into a virtuoso. To the contrary, unless you're a monster to begin with, you're more likely to get lost in a crowd of somewhat mediocre players.

    It's true that cats like Victor Bailey, Stu Hamm, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Branford Marsalis, Steve Vai, Keith Jarrett, and on and on went to Berklee. But they all have two things in common...they are all extraordinarily gifted and were monsters when they showed up, and to my knowledge none of them graduated.
  7. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Well, BenF posted while I was typing away...and he confirms that what was true in '78 was still true in '93.
  8. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000

    but i really doubt that he´s in there... just lies like everything he said
  9. Hey, thanks a lot for the replies. They got me thinking. I was kicking around the minoring in music idea too. I may e-mail you Craig to get some specifics on the school. I think I'll be attending the summer performance program to get a feel for the school too. What a confusing world.:rolleyes:
  10. would berklee be good to go to if I want to teach music theory to high schools? Would Queens College be more fit for that? I want to play bass on the side of being able to teach music theory and maybe some other things with the school's music dept. like orchestra. I want to stay local(NYC to suffolk) but if berklee is more fit for what I want I'll go.
  11. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Berklee doesn't have a big rep as a music education school, although they do offer a degree. Do you only play electric bass? If so, you actually may be limited to a school like Berklee. There aren't that many accredited schools that will accept you as a music education major with electric bass as your instrument. In fact, Berklee may be the only one. Eastman, Julliard, North Texas State, New England Conservatory, Hartt School of Music (Univ. of Hartford) all have great music education programs, but none of them (as far as I know) will allow you in with electric bass as your primary instrument. Another problem with Berklee is that, although for jazz the theory program is outstanding, if you want to get into orchestra-type ain't the place.
  12. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    You need a degree in education first, then minor or get a second music degree.
  13. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Hate to disagree with you Bliss...but that's just not true. You can get a degree in music education in the same amount of time as any other education degree...even at Berklee.
  14. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    I also went to Berklee and pretty much agree with everything that has been said here already. To second what BenF said above...I went in right after high school thinking I was pretty hot sh*t. I was the best bass player in town and was playing club gigs with guys 10+ years older than me because I played better than the guys their age that had been playing longer. I was in my high school jazz band, made all state so on and so on. So there I was hot-to-trot. Well, I step into Berklee, and one of the first things they make you do is take an audition for ensembles. The ensembles are based on a 4-single digit rating from 0-9 at the time(dont know if this has much else has). And each number was assigned to reading, improv, etc.. I don't remember exactly what they were or what order they were in. You could only sign up for ensembles which were equal to or less than your rating. For example, a 9999 rating meant you were pretty much the bad ass of all bad asses..very rare. To make a long story short..I go in and audition my little a@@ off and come out with a 2211 rating. This was only the beginning of my long slow humbling career at Berklee. And much to my surprise there were players far worse than I attending. And some of the guitar players..whew...there parents mustve had fat check books and money to burn cuz these guys didnt belong in music school. So with that, I'd say that yes, anybody with the cash can get into Berklee. What you get out of it is what you put into it. Unfortunately for me, as gung-ho as I was going in, I came to find it too much. Many times it started feeling like work and wasn't fun for me anymore. I've since come to terms with what bass playing and music is to me...a very, very serious hobby. One that I put alot of time into and take alot of pride in. That's not to say if somebody was ready to pay me big bucks to hop on a tour bus and play music all over the country I wouldnt jump at it...but it just isnt my main goal. It took a few years after leaving Berklee for music to be fun the point where I really wasnt playing much at all for a while. Still though, with all that I learned a load from Berklee and find myself applying it today. Mostly though, I think I learned how to practice and how to study music that now when I want to learn something musically I'm perfectly able. The friends I made at Berklee were some of the most quality people and best friends I've ever known. Some of the whack-jobs I met at Berklee still make me laugh to this day. I don't regret going at all. One thing though...lots of people that go there are older..mid 20s and up. Some have already gotten a "regular" college degree and I would've been much better off doing it that way. If I had the world experience I have now even at the young age of 27 I would've handled Berklee alot better and gotten even more out of it.

    Oh, and for the person that wants to teach and play bass on the side...there is absolutely no reason for you to go to Berklee for that. You can get a very high quality education right in New York and find yourself a super bass teacher for much less than going to Berklee...thats my thoughts on that.

    Of course if you're like I was when I was getting ready to go to Berklee none of what anybody is saying here will do anything but go in one ear and out the other. So if you go, good luck..remember you get out what you put in..get your degree, and get good grades..the degree with high marks will help you in the future.(and pssst..the general ed. classes are Berklee arent that hard to the say the least).

    Rob....Berklee '96
  15. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars

    I could've typed every word you just did, and it would have applied to me back in '78. Unbelievable! When I went there was just a three number system, and when I auditioned they started me off as a 000! Granted, the second semester I was up to a 555 and would've started year two at 777, but by then I was so disallusioned with the abundance of less than mediocre players at Berklee, I skeedaddled. I too, should've waited a couple or ten years and then tackled Berklee.
  16. I have to agree with what everyone has said. I attended Berklee for one year ('94 to '95) straight out of high school. I have very mixed feelings about the year I studied there, but I don't regret it.

    I attended Berklee with the intention of becoming the best player I could ever be. I wanted to learn everything I could about how to improvise and to become proficient in any musical situation. After my first semester, I remeber thinking that I hadn't improved even a fraction of how much I expected to. I remeber feeling the pressure of the clock ticking. Most of the guys there were older. I knew a couple of guys who were graduating that semester and they had no idea what they were going to do once they stepped out in the real world. That really made me evaluate the whole situation and I ended up going to a regular college to pursue a business degree.

    The main courses that you have to take during the first year are harmony (jazz theory), ear training (through sight-singing), bass labs, and private lessons. I also had to take some traditional counterpoint and harmony classes (classical). The harmony and the ear-training were valuable. But I emphasize that you don't have to spend mega$$$$ at Berklee to study these things. The private lessons are half-an-hour, once a week. What you get out of a lesson will vary depending on who you study with, but for me, even though the teachers were excellent bass players, they weren't the best teachers. I felt like they were just "doing their job." And IMO, a half-hour just doesn't cut it.

    If what I said above sounds negative, I just want to say that that was my expericence and perception of it. YMMV. Having said that though, I can objectively say that there were many positive things that came out of my year there. Being at Berklee and in Boston in general, you get to experince so much music. Most people there are die-hard music freaks like me. ( I say most because some people weren't, believe it or not. What they were doing in Berklee, I'll never figure out.) You will get to see lots of shows and you will be able to jam with lots of people and hear lots of people jam. The people there are what made my experience invaluable. I learned more from the people I met more than anything else. Berklee also expanded my horizons and gave me a realistic assessment of where I was musically. It also gave me the sense that there are systematic ways to practice and keep on improving. But it was only after I left Berklee that I was able to really reflect on its positive impact.

    Like it was mentioned in an earlier post, while I was at Berklee, I felt like music was work rather than fun. It took me a couple years to regain that enthusiasm again.

    From the people I met that year, only one person is doing anything on the scene, and he left Berklee during the first semester. I think he went on to study guitar privately with some badass dude and he was smokin before he got to Berklee.

    IME, no school makes the musician. The musician makes the musician. It's important to be inspired and to have a source for knowledge. There are ways to improve and be inspired without going to a "prestigious" music school. Just don't ever lose sight of your main goal. If you want music bad enough, you'll find a way to incorporate it into your life.

    Also, as rob_d said, if I could go back and study at a music school now as a 25-year- old who's been playing bass for 10 years as opposed to an 18-year-old who had been playing for 3.5 years, I would get so much more out of it. The networking possibilities are also invaluable and I would probably be making so much more out of it.

    As for the summer session, have a blast! Watch as many shows as you can be open to everything! I'm sure it will expand your horizons and change your perspective on things.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This is a very interesting thread and should be compulsory reading for all the "virtuosi" who come along bragging about how good they are, although I should think it will be useful to any young player starting out.

    I tend to think that what Ed is saying is true in my experience as well. In that it's not always the best players who do best - it's the ones with the motivation and the ability to network with other people.

    I've noticed that the most successful musicians are constantly networking and expecially in Jazz you will see that at gigs, the audience is full of other pros/players who want to network with the band.

    By motivation I mean - knowing what you want to do and having the drive to get it done, as Ed says - you can't be hanging around waiting for the phone to ring.

    Unfortunately, they don't seem to have classes for this kind of thing - which would be way more useful
    than any music theory (which you can get at a lot of places) and most people don't seem to discover this lesson until they are in their late 20s early 30s as people have attested in this thread.

    But then I suppose it's only you who knows what it is you have inside that you need to get out
    - if it's not there, then maybe it's not worth spending a lot of money, effort and time on?
  18. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Wasn't Tony Williams something like 17 when he joined Miles?
  19. Hey all,
    I'd like to thank you all for the replies. They've made me think a lot. Hopefully I'll hit the summer course, that'll make me think about it. I'd ultimately like to do music, but the money thing is always a factor unfortunately. I'm clueless, I find I'm happiest when I'm playing all the time. If I could make a living off of playing and stuff, I'd be in heaven. But too many questions about my future are ringing throuh my head for me to make a decision about my future. :confused:
  20. Kick,

    Berklee would be a good place to go for that. You would major in music education. This would prepare you for a career similar, but not limited to, what your high school band director does. Usually entails, in addition to teaching the theory class, orchestra, marching band, jazz ensemble, and probably some middle school and elementary school work as well (depending on the district).

    If you want to stay local for school, Queens College would probably NOT be the right place. You chocies are limited. Five Towns College.