Berklee Audition: Tips on Piece Selection and General Advice


Junior Member
I'm auditioning to Berklee on December 5, 2009. While I'm trying not to be too nervous about it, I don't really know what to pick for my piece. Any tips on any part of the audition from anyone would be greatly appreciated. The guidelines for the audition can be found on the Berklee website and it pretty much just a couple of your own chosen pieces to play along to, some sight reading, ear training and call and response. Thanks again to anyone with some help.


Junior Member
A lot of major music colleges would like to hear standard repertoire..

Snare Drum
Portraits in Rhythm.

Anything of the Goldenburg books should be a good choice.

I have friends at Berklee...and a lot of them have told me they really expect a timpani excerpt to be prepared. I'm not really knowledgeable about a lot of standard timpani repertoire. I am sure if you did some research online you'd be able to find a great one to audition on.

Show that you have a wide spread knowledge of techniques and such...and that you're not just another run of the mill drum set player.

Good Luck!!!


Junior Member
Thanks, that should help. If I'm planning on playing drumset I should also prepare mallet and timpani pieces correct? Or will it be strictly drumset. I don't want to sound stupid I just want to get the most info on these auditions as possible.


Try Whaley's Intermediate Timpani Studies for timpani repertoire. But if your principal is drum set, you shouldn't need to do any timpani or mallets. That's how it was when I came to Berklee, and as far as I know, that hasn't changed. I would imagine that Total Percussion principals probably do have to do timpani & mallets. Jazz standards are usually best for drum set auditions but there are other options like playing a transcribed solo. All the requirements should be on the site.


Silver Member
Most of jazz performance programs make you do 5 major things at your audition:

1) Improv to either blues (Billie's Bounce) or rhythm changes (Oleo). The two songs in brackets are songs I suggest you practice to. You could also do Anthropology, or Ornithology.

2) Play a practiced song with an accompaniest. Practices with your accompaniest MONTHS before your audition. You want to work out all the kinks in your performance, perfect hits, and be able to play pieces without looking at each other (although, your judges will likely be looking for communication between band members).

3) Trade 4s/8s. This is a MUST. While trading, it's a good idea to keep the 2 and 4 going on the hats. This will help you keep track of your 4s/8s, and is also something some judges look for. If you're going to do something cool with the hats (like through them on the + of a triplet or something) as a solo idea, it's not necessary. You may be asked to trade in swing, latin, funk, or afro-cuban.

4) A snare solo. Generally something portraits in rhythm is something you want to do. I suggest solo 3.

5) Be competent in latin rhythms (have a solid bossa) and be able to play afro-cuban rhythms well (be able to groove to a song). Know the songo, this is the one they ALWAYS ask for. A samba or salsa is also good to have in your arsenal.

Listen to LOTS of jazz. Jack DeJohnette and Elvin Jones are good drummers to listen to, as well as Brian Blade. Have a basic understanding of jazz history if there is an interview part to your audition.

I did all of those things last year when I applied to schools last year (including the prestigious Humber College, number one jazz school in Canada) and got accepted to all 4 schools I applied to, including University of Toronto that only accepts 2 drummers a year.

Just have fun with it! There's no reason to be nervous. Drums is something you love, show that in your audition.

Good luck! You'll do great!


Junior Member
As long as the piece you prepare is a solid showcase of your style played solidly, you'll be solid. If you're a drummer: identify triads (maj, min, dim, aug), maybe some sevenths (same), be able to vocally match pitches, be able to play rhythms back (SD&BD), and be kind.

I posted my entire Berklee Audition & Interview Process in detail at my blog- Prospecting the Music Stream

The link above is for educational purposes directed at those interested in the Berklee Audition & Interview Process.

I got in, by the way.
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