I literally know nothing about this music college and the success that it has had with its classical major students. I know that they focus more on jazz, and other genres of music but how bout classical? Has there been successful students from this college? Though I'm guessing it wouldn't be the first school of choice for many top students majoring in classical.
It has also recently merged with the Boston Conservatory, so make sure your research counts that group of students and faculty.
Did Berklee even have any students focusing on classical music prior to the merger? I was under the impression that it didn't.
It has always been a zoo. An interesting zoo, with a lot of talent running around, but it's still a zoo. For a classical musician, I think it wouldn't be a great choice, but if you are exploding with talent and ambition, willing to go into a 110% commitment to success with a creative voice... yeah, it could work. There are students there who will make a name for themselves, but there's a lot of madness and burnout. I would recommend going to a school with a broader education, though, and perhaps a less crazy environment.
I know a brass prodigy there who is a saxophonist who wants to do rock. However he picked up the trombone and Tuba for fun and it took him a few months to be on the bso sub list so there are some very talented people there but it’s wildly expensive and the classical training would not be that great in my opinion.
I have never heard of a classical music going to Berklee for classical training. I had a high school classmate who went there. He was a terrific classical trumpeter, but he went there because jazz was his main interest and became a prominent bebop trumpeter. He runs the jazz performance program at University of Virginia.
I know (well, from a long time ago) the person who is now head of strings there and I highly respect him as an educator, player, and innovator. I think if you are looking for a place where you learn lots of styles and are well prepared for the music industry (esp. non-classical) it is a great place to go. But as for straightforward classical -- not a good choice. They have a summer program where you can try it out. That might be a good option to see if it is what you are looking for.
It's the place to go if jazz and Progressive Rock are your thing. Here's a link to their strings programs and professors https://bostonconservatory.berklee.edu/strings
Berklee used to be a place where students went to meet other like-minded musicians and get gigs, not necessarily to graduate, since the jazz/pop/rock world of performers doesn't give a hoot about college degrees -- it only cares that you can play your part well. In more recent years the percentage of freshmen who actually graduate has increased, and the merger with the Boston Conservatory has helped in that process. The Boston Conservatory has an excellent string program, and since the two schools are linked now, it's a great way for people with only a classical background to get exposed to the jazz/pop/rock world. I have a young cellist friend who attended Boston Conservatory for her undergraduate degree in cello performance as well as composition and she really blossomed there. Another young friend (former student of mine) got a masters degree in bassoon performance there and I heard several of his concerts/recitals there, all of which included excellent string players.
I'll be taking up Cello at the Cape Cod Conservatory this spring, looking forward to it!
Even though Berklee College may yet be an unconventional place (despite being a part of the Boston Conservatory), my guess is that you would want to go about this in much the same way as any student approaching conservatory admission. So, if your goal is to study jazz violin with Jason Anick (undeniably a worthy ambition), then you need to know if that's going to happen before you get there. Also, a lot of students take a gap year (or two!) so that they will have preparation more comparable to what they think their professors will expect, or to prepare more competitive auditions. If so, then you would want to spend some of that time learning the jazz genre specifically, and I recommend finding an expert (not necessarily a violinist) who can teach you something about jazz harmony and improvisation. There are also summer camps for jazz (Christian Howes, Jamey Aebersold, etc.). Yeah they cost money.
To Paul's excellent advice I would add that you should listen to the great jazz vocalists: Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Betty Carter, Ray Charles, Nina Simone and many many others. Then play the same songs on your violin (the Jamey Aebersold play-alongs are fantastic!) and work to capture their phrasing. Playing a lot of fast notes in solos is very nice, but so is simpler, well-phrased playing, and an ideal jazz performer knows how to combine both at the right time for a truly individual sound such as Stan Getz or Stephane Grapelli get.
I attended Berklee for one year eons ago. Somethings may have changed, but I imagine much has remained the same.
Wow thanks for that injection of first-hand insight, Madeye. There is a lot of inertia in higher education and it would not surprise me if your observations from decades ago are still quite appplicable today.
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