How to Enroll
- Submit your registration by June 1.* Begin by submitting your registration online. If applicable, you may need to submit additional supporting materials.
- Make your tuition payment by June 1.* All programs have limited capacity, so be sure to complete your full tuition payment to reserve your space in the program.
- Request housing. Students who are 15 years of age or older by the start of their Boston-based program are eligible to stay in on-campus housing. If you meet the eligibility requirements and have indicated that you would like to request on-campus housing, please revisit your registration portal and submit a Residence Hall Agreement.
*Please note: This program has limited capacity. Submission of registration materials alone does not guarantee participation in the program. You will secure your spot by paying in full.
The intensive is meant to replicate a true Berklee College of Music undergraduate experience. You will select one principal instrument (voice included) to study during the program. You may choose an electronic digital instrument (EDI) as your principal instrument. Your instructors for Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive are members of Berklee's world-class faculty and include a mix of private instruction, instrumental labs, ensembles, theory, performance, and musicianship training. While classes are designed to challenge and expand your musical skill set, your course load will be appropriate for your abilities.
Classes generally take place between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and are tailored to your musical interest and experience level. The program culminates with a final week of concerts where you will perform for faculty, fellow students, family, and friends. Browse course descriptions below
This is a half-hour lesson each week on your principal instrument.
Three hours each week will be spent in instrument-specific small group courses to develop instrumental style, reading, and technique.
Instrumental/vocal departments will present a survey class, which examines various performance styles and techniques from a historical perspective.
Ensembles will run for two hours each week. When joining an instrumental or vocal group, you will have a wide range of contemporary styles to choose from, including jazz, pop/rock, pop/R&B, funk/fusion, bluegrass, salsa, and world music. Additional ensembles will be available depending on instrumental balance and need. Of the ensembles formed during the intensive, 23 will be selected to record in one of Berklee’s 10 state-of-the-art recording studios. All ensembles will perform a short set in an on-campus venue during the final week of the program.
You will spend four hours per week developing your musical ear, performance skills, and reading ability. This class level is determined by your entering musicianship assessment.
Theory in Performance
You will spend three hours per week studying the rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic elements of music as they relate to playing your instrument. This class level is determined by your entering theory assessment.
Performances/discussions are held two hours per week to expose you to valuable career insight from music professionals in every sector of the industry: performance, songwriting, film composition, music business, and more. Notable guest artists who have recently visited Berklee include Victor Wooten, Cory Henry, Crissy Collins, and Charlie Puth, among many others.
Visiting Artist Clinics
These lectures and demonstrations feature performers, songwriters, film composers, and music business experts with experience in the industry. They are open to all students.
Visiting artists are announced at the start of the program. Notable artists who have recently visited Berklee include Amanda Palmer, George Duke, Melissa Ferrick, and Dawaun Parker, among many others.
Music Technology for Blind Students
Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive offers a laboratory course on assistive music technology for blind students. The course explores digital audio workstations, notation, and Braille music. For more information on the course, contact the instructor, Chi Kim, at email@example.com. For more information on services for students with disabilities, contact Berklee Accessibility Resouces for Students at 617-747-2387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Final Week Concerts
During the final week of the program, you will perform in at least one of more than 300 student ensemble concerts. Concerts will take place in one of the college's many performance venues including the recital halls, Red Room at Cafe 939, and the Berklee Performance Center, a 1,220-seat, world-class venue.
Please note: The Berklee City Music Scholarship Concert is the only performance that charges an admission fee. All other shows are free, but may have limited capacity. Admittance is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Electives give students the opportunity to learn more about an area that interests them in a class that meets once a week for two hours. Students will receive one elective from the list of required electives below. You may also choose to receive one additional, optional elective. You will rank your preference of electives while taking your online placement assessment before the program begins.
Examine many of the essential grooves that continue to define contemporary music. The styles examined may include funk, hip-hop, and music from Brazil and Cuba. Music examples and scores will be examined to analyze the rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic components of each style. Documentaries will be shown to support the historical and social aspects of these styles with an emphasis on the innovators who made them popular.
Producing Music with Ableton Live
Ableton Live is a powerful software tool that allows musicians to develop musical ideas in a unique, nonlinear environment and presents a way of working that is fundamentally different from other software used in music production. In this workshop, you will learn to create new musical ideas and produce electronic arrangements using software instruments and effects that come with Ableton Live. Emphasis will be placed on developing the basic skills that can be used to write and produce new works, as well as to create remixes and prepare songs for electronic performance.
Jazz Composition and Arranging
This lecture class will introduce you to composing and arranging techniques used by important jazz artists. Topics include orchestration, song and arrangement form, music analysis, and the process of creating and harmonizing melodies.
This course will provide you with an introduction to the music business. You will gain an understanding of how your creative works are protected by US copyright law and promoted by publishers. You will also review the contractual relationship between artists and record labels, with discussions on how to set up and manage a small business (business formation, band agreements, etc.). This course will also explore artists’ managers, their work, and their relationship with artists. You will learn why touring is a profitable component of the music business, showing how artists and promoters budget for a successful outcome.
Music Therapy Basics
This course is designed to provide a basic overview of the profession of music therapy. This includes the neurological basis for music as therapy, a brief history of the profession, and current advances in professional practice. You will explore personal connections with music, the education and training requirements for music therapists, clinical populations and settings music therapists work with, and the treatment planning process in music therapy.
Scoring for Visual Media
This course will provide an introduction to the exciting world of scoring for today’s visual media. Using a wide variety of examples from film, video games, television, and commercials, this class will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the process of composing and producing a musical underscore, from traditional linear scoring to the cutting-edge, nonlinear techniques used in current-generation video games and interactive media.
This lecture class will examine song form, strategies for creating melodies, and effective use of harmony to create forward motion in songs. With the instructor and guest lecturers, you will explore lyric writing and tips to help the creative process.
Because technology allows the easy exchange of ideas and files, strategies and tools for improving both songwriting and production through collaboration will be demonstrated. Lastly, we will discuss an overview of how songs are currently used in film, TV, and other visual media, along with the tools needed to place your songs and start earning royalties.
Survey of Production Styles
This course will explore how a modern song is taken from inception to full mix. It includes discussion of song form, songwriting, and techniques to invoke the best performances from players on the spot. This course also addresses the creative use of modern microphone and recording techniques; the use of outboard and computer processing, such as reverb, equalizers, and compressors; and basic mixing techniques. Strong interpersonal skills are needed. An open mind and active participation are required.
Explore your inner entrepreneur. As creative entrepreneurs you’ll develop innovative and effective ways to market and communicate your artistic vision. Join us to develop and practice your elevator pitch using design thinking and storytelling.
Musical Theater Workshop
This ensemble will focus on large and small ensemble musical theater literature. Strong emphasis will be placed on vocal technique, ensemble singing, and lyric delivery. You will prepare, rehearse, and perform Broadway-style selections from a variety of productions, leading to a performance at the end of the program.
Open Drum Circle
Drum circles are available to percussionists and non-percussionists alike. This weekly workshop provides an opportunity to develop skills using various percussion instruments from around the world.
This class will provide singer/songwriters an opportunity to write and perform their own songs, and learn the tools of the trade. The class will focus on the song: how it’s created and how it is used to express and communicate the songwriter's feelings and stories to the audience. You will develop the tools and techniques used by songwriters today and participate in facilitated song critiques with your classmates. The class will culminate in a live performance
Yoga for Musicians
You will learn to practice meditation approaches and breathing techniques, play using healthy posture and technique, get more out of your practice through improved focus, use your breath to improve phrasing and ease performance anxiety, and play with deeper expression through inspiration. These concepts, exercises, and practice routines present yoga from the musician's perspective, focusing on direct relationships between using yoga and creating music.
Mobile Recording Techniques
Details coming soon.
General Curriculum Information
Genres and Styles
You can choose to study the following styles:
Jazz—The repertoire will focus on music drawn from jazz standards, the Great American Songbook, blues, Latin, and modal jazz compositions by a wide range of important jazz artists, including Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Christian Scott, Tunde Adjuah, and others.
Each participant's schedule is entirely customized to their interests and abilities. The schedule below serves as an example of the expected course load along with the breadth of additional opportunities throughout the intensive.
|10 AM–12 PM
|12 PM–1 PM
|Survey of Instrumental/Vocal Styles
|1 PM–2 PM
|Faculty Artist Clinic*
|3 PM–5 PM
|Visiting Artist: Performance Perspectives Master Class
|7 PM–9 PM
|9 PM–10 PM
|Homework in the Dorm Lounge *
|9 AM–10:30 AM
|12 PM–1 PM
|1 PM–2 PM
|Faculty Artist Clinic*
|3 PM–4 PM
|Musicianship Teacher Office Hour*
|4 PM–6 PM
|7 PM–9 PM
|Tuesday Night Jams*
|9 PM–10 PM
|Study Group at Cafe 939*
|11 AM–12 PM
|12 PM–1 PM
|Live at 160 Caf Show*
|2 PM–3 PM
|4 PM–6 PM
|8 PM–10 PM
|Movie Night in the Residence Halls*
|9 AM–10:30 AM
|12 PM–1 PM
|1 PM–2 PM
|Performing Songwriter Sidewalk Series*
|2 PM–3 PM
|Theory Teacher Office Hour*
|4 PM–5 PM
|7 PM–9 PM
|Thursday Night Jams*
|9:30 AM–10 AM
|11 AM–12 PM
|12 PM–1 PM
|Live at 160 Caf Show*
|2 PM–3 PM
|Instrument or Vocal Lab
|3 PM–4 PM
|Practice Room Session*
|10 AM–11 AM
|Yoga for Musicians*
|12 PM–4 PM
|Extra Ensemble Rehearsal*
|10 PM–11 PM
|1:35 PM–5:30 PM
|Red Sox Game at Fenway Park*
|6 PM–7 PM
|Practice Room Session*
|7 PM–8 PM
|Homework in the Media Center*
*These activities are optional to attend. This schedule is subject to change.
At Aspire, performance opportunities are available to you almost every day. Recurring performance opportunities include the following:
- Monday evening open mics in Cafe 939
- Tuesday evening jam sessions in David Friend Recital Hall
- Wednesday and Friday afternoon open mics in the Berklee Dining Hall
- Thursday afternoon open mics at the Berklee Bookstore
- Thursday evening jam sessions in Oliver Colvin Recital Hall
In addition, the final week of the program hosts over 200 ensemble performances. You will participate in at least one performance, though you may perform in multiple shows if you take more than one ensemble. You have the option to audition for additional ensembles on the first Sunday of the program.
All students 15 and older with six months of playing or singing experience are welcome to attend. Most students who attend this program are of high school or college age.
Participants must possess a proficient level of English to enroll in this program. We do not require proof of English language proficiency (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo) as part of the enrollment or application process; however, you are expected to have a sufficient command of the English language to understand class material and assignments.
The US Department of Homeland Security requires that any participating student who is not a US citizen apply for an F-1 student visa. Students may not attend the program with a B-1 visa, B-2 visa, or ESTA visa waiver. Learn more about the F-1 Visa process by reading the articles within our F-1 Visa Help Center category.
Workbooks for your Aspire: Five-Week program courses, along with electronics, Berklee merchandise, and various other supplies, can be found at the Berklee Bookstore, situated near the center of campus at 1090 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, 02215. The required books are:
- Five-Week Musicianship by Rick Peckham and Scott McCormick
- Summer Performance Program Music Theory by Bob Doezema
Except for pianists and drummers, students are expected to bring their instruments to all Summer Programs. Additionally, please take note of the following:
- Contemporary vocalists are required to bring their own low-impedance microphone and cord. You can find microphone recommendations on this page from the Voice Department.
- Drummers should come prepared with sticks and brushes. While students are welcome to bring their own cymbals, hi-hat, and clutch, these items are also provided during the program.
- Guitarists and electric bassists should bring any necessary cables and foot pedals. Amplifiers will be supplied during instruction. It may be beneficial to bring a small practice amplifier (with headphones) for individual practice rooms.
- Keyboardists intending to bring a synthesizer for ensemble purposes or private practice may do so.
- Electronic Digital Instrumentalists (EDI) must bring a computer with Ableton Live and a MIDI keyboard.
- Only acoustic bassists may use storage lockers on campus. Unfortunately, Berklee cannot accommodate storage for any other type of instrument.
Berklee offers a variety of full and partial merit-based scholarships for students attending Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive. Learn more about scholarships.
Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to audition for a scholarship to Berklee College of Music’s undergraduate program while attending Aspire: Five-Week, with approximately $10 million in scholarships awarded during the final week of the program.
Earn College Credit
Students who receive a grade of B or higher in their core classes will receive three college credits upon completion of the program.
Meghan Trainor, Charlie Puth, and Betty Who are among the many Aspire alumni who have gone on to have successful music careers.
The Berklee Summer Programs Team is excited that you've taken the first step! Now that you've enrolled, here's what to know, to be sure you're prepared before and after you check in for the experience of a lifetime.
What to Do First
Important: continually check the email you used to enroll!
Please regularly check the email you used to enroll in your program for important updates. A detailed check-in email, containing information about your assigned arrival location, housing assignment (if applicable), and program schedule, will be sent one to two weeks before your program's start date.
Make your tuition payment
All programs have a limited capacity. Complete your full tuition payment in order to reserve your space in the program.
Request on-campus housing
On-campus housing is limited, and spaces will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis based on the completion of the following steps:
- Read, sign, and submit the residence hall agreement on berklee.edu/apply.
- The Summer Programs team will review your signed residence hall agreement within 3-5 business days. After review, we will send you an email inviting you to return to berklee.edu/apply to view your on-campus housing decision letter.
- If your request has been approved, secure your spot by accepting your offer and paying the housing fee in full.
- For students enrolled in multiple programs, please complete a separate residence hall agreement (along with the accompanying housing fee payment) for each program.
- To be eligible to request on-campus housing, a student must be 15 years of age before the start of their program.
- If a student is under the age of 18, the request for on-campus housing must be filled out by a parent/guardian, and both the student and parent/guardian must agree to all the terms and conditions.
- Applicants for Musical Theater Acting Intensive (MTAI) and Vocal/Choral Intensive (VCI) must first be offered admission and accept their offer before their residence hall agreement submission will be considered.
- Since space in our residence halls is limited, a spot in our residence halls will only be guaranteed once a student has fully registered for their chosen program and paid the program tuition in full. Any housing requests or payments made before the completion of both these steps do not ensure a guaranteed place in on-campus housing.
Learn more about housing and campus life by exploring the Help Center.
Request accessibility accommodations (if needed)
Accommodations are provided for students with documented medical needs, offering services such as academic accommodations, academic coaching, special housing arrangements, dietary adjustments, and referrals to on-campus support, including adaptive technology and tutoring.
Accommodations are determined through an interactive process involving the student, faculty, the Office of Housing and Residential Education, a dietitian, and Accessibility Resources for Students staff. Requests for academic, housing, and dietary accommodations can be made by following the steps outlined in this Help Center article.
International students: obtain an I-20 form and apply for your F-1 visa
International students should follow the instructions provided for requesting an I-20 from Berklee. Upon receiving your I-20, you will be required to obtain an F-1 student visa at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
Complete These Tasks by June
Complete the items in your Magnus Health account by June 1
We require up-to-date health information, documentation for the required immunizations mandated by Massachusetts law, as well as conduct and consent forms for all students. Instructions on accessing your Magnus Health account will be sent via email to all registered students in mid-spring.
If you have more questions you can review our help center. Here are some articles that might be helpful:
Submit a photo for your ID by June 1
Students participating in a Boston-based Summer Program will receive an ID card upon arrival at Berklee. This card provides access to campus facilities and, if you have chosen to reside in our residence halls, it also allows entry to the dining hall. Please submit a photo for your ID by June 1. If you do not upload a photo, one will be taken upon your arrival on campus.
Review your Berklee OnePass credentials
Leading up to the program, you will receive instructions on accessing your Berklee email address and OnePass, providing access to Berklee's internal network. This information will be sent to the email address you provided during registration. Upon activation of your Berklee email address, you will start receiving communications at that address.
Complete your course placement assessments
You are required to complete two placement assessments designed to assist us in assigning you to the appropriate classes for your current ability and skill level. If you encounter unfamiliar questions or topics during either assessment, there is no cause for concern. Our aim is to ensure students are placed in adequately challenging performance and academic settings, fostering productive and positive learning outcomes.
Both placement assessments must be completed at least two weeks before the program's start. Links to access the online assessments will be sent to your Berklee email address, and you will use your OnePass credentials to log in.
Prepare to Arrive and Check In
What to pack if you’re staying on campus
All of our on-campus residence halls follow a standard college-style layout, with each room equipped with a closet, bed, and desk for each resident.
Students staying in a Berklee residence hall should bring the following items:
- Bedding (sheets, pillow, pillowcase, blanket) for an extra-long twin bed (36 inches by 80 inches)
- Towels (bath towels, washcloths, hand towels, etc.)
We also recommend bringing the following:
- Alarm clock
- Clothes hangers
- Extra spending money for snacks, drinks, or public transportation (costs for Berklee-coordinated events will be covered by the school; students are responsible for additional expenses during events)
- Laptop computer, tablet device, cell phone, etc., including chargers
- Laundry detergent and quarters (coin-based laundry facilities available in every residence hall, although we recommend bringing quarters)
- Plastic bin for storing snacks or food
- Prescription/first-aid needs
- Small refrigerator
- Water bottle
- A fan
Items available upon request from the resident advisor's office:
- Basic cleaning supplies
- Toilet paper (for private bathrooms)
- Vacuum cleaners
The following items are not allowed in a student’s residence hall room:
- Cooking appliances (hot pots, toaster ovens, grills, popcorn makers, or anything with a visible heating element, etc.)
- Air conditioners
- Futons, chairs, couches, or any other non-Berklee-issued furniture
- Wall hangings
- Pets (including fish)
- Halogen lamps and holiday lights
Download the Guidebook app
A week before your program starts, you will receive instructions to download the Guidebook app. This app enables you to access your program schedule and connect with fellow Summer Programs students.
Getting to campus, parking, and hotels nearby
Access the Summer Programs Help Center
Explore some of these top articles from the Summer Programs Help Center.
- How to know if housing (if applicable) is confirmed
- Summer Programs accessibility accommodations
- Supervision for Summer Programs students under 18
- How to access the Magnus Health Portal
- Berklee Summer Programs immunization requirements
- How to access your student ID number
- Program check-in: requirements and process
- Arriving late to your program