The Berklee Correspondence Course

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  • Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
  • Format: Book with Online Media
  • Pages: 304
  • Dimensions: 9x12
  • ISBN: 9781540002891
  • SKU: 00244533
  • Publication Date: June 04, 2021

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Learn essential jazz theory, arranging, and composition techniques. This historic material reflects Berklee’s DNA—the founding precepts of understanding contemporary music that are core to much of Berklee’s current teaching to this day. The Berklee Correspondence Course was a seminal distance-learning program in use from the 1950s through 1970s—the predecessor of today’s Berklee Online.

Through these lessons, Berklee’s core curriculum was made available to learners all around the world. It presents a wide curriculum, from basic concepts of jazz theory and harmony all the way through big-band composing and arranging techniques. Though given a fresh look and feel, the content is otherwise unchanged, and it is an educational time capsule for the post-bop jazz period, when so much great music was created. Each lesson ends with hands-on exercises. While Berklee Online has replaced The Berklee Correspondence Course as Berklee’s mechanism for distance learning, you can still check your work on these historical lessons, now via an online answer key.

You will learn:

  • Elements of jazz harmony, including scale and chord construction, voice leading, and tension usage
  • How to compose and improvise melodies, considering chord tones and non-chord tones, chord scale theory, and various rhythm development devices
  • How to develop chord patterns and progressions, such as II V’s, I VI II V, cadences, modulations, forms, and other standard jazz progressions such as blues and rhythm changes
  • Arranging techniques for winds, brass, and rhythm section, in small combos to large ensembles, such as how to develop background lines, melodic harmonization, the use of different voicing types, and jazz scoring/notation techniques

“During my senior year in high school, I decided I would go to Berklee after I graduated. Berklee offered The Berklee Correspondence Course, in which I immediately enrolled, knowing it would give me a head start on my studies. I looked forward to each of the lessons as they arrived in the mail, and I really saw the benefits when I began my classes at Berklee.” 

Gary Burton, Multi Grammy-Award Winning Vibraphonist/Composer/Educator; Executive Vice President Emeritus, Berklee College of Music

“Created by Berklee College of Music founder and first president Lawrence Berk, The Berklee Correspondence Course was the college’s first form of distance learning to provide jazz education to those unable to study at Berklee in person. In what was little bigger than a basement closet at 284 Newbury Street (Berklee’s first home), a single mimeograph machine operator produced these multiple page sets of information and exercises, which were returned to Berklee faculty by the recipient for correction and comment. Who could ever have imagined from this modest beginning how The Berklee Correspondence Course would be transformed by the evolution of technology into the one of the world’s premier distance learning sites, Berklee Online?”

Lee Eliot Berk, President Emeritus, Berklee College of Music

“Berklee has always made great efforts to expand the reach of the college and provide music education opportunities to a global base of aspiring musicians who aren’t able to get to the physical campus in Boston. The first of those efforts was with Berklee Press in the 1950s: packaging up Berklee curriculum in book form and distributing through music stores the world over.

“Through the 1950s to 1970s, this correspondence course was created to teach music theory, harmony, and arranging. The Berklee Correspondence Course consisted of 25 lesson booklets, each sent through the mail between students and faculty.

“In 2001, Berklee Online was established and stands on the shoulders of Berklee’s rich legacy in distance learning. Through Berklee Online, students around the world can enroll in courses, certificate programs, and bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, all 100% online. With the publication of The Berklee Correspondence Course, all of Berklee’s distance learning efforts—Berklee Press, Berklee Online, and The Berklee Correspondence Course—are now available to musicians everywhere.” 

Debbie Cavalier, Co-Founder and CEO of Berklee Online