Orchestral repertoire class (everyone calls it “rep class”) is a central part of being a bass player at Peabody for a lot of reasons:

  • It is the only departmental class that almost every bassist takes throughout their time at Peabody. Not everyone is in the same degree program or plays in the same orchestra, but everyone is in rep class together! This makes rep classes a great opportunity for students to observe and learn from each other as well as from the faculty.
  • Rep class is taught on a rotating basis by the entire bass faculty. Students can hear the thoughts and ideas of faculty members other than their major teacher. We think that hearing diverse and sometimes differing opinions about music and the bass is an important part of one’s musical growth. Realizing that there can be several paths to the same musical goal can help students find ways to improve their own playing.
  • Rep class makes students play for their peers every week. Playing for others is scary, and we all tend to look for ways to avoid it. By playing for each other in rep class, we learn how to cope with our anxieties and ultimately to see playing under pressure as a chance to show our best work to others.
  • Perhaps most importantly, rep class is where we learn the orchestra repertoire that we need to compete professionally at the highest level.

The Two-Year Plan

There are certain basic orchestral excerpts that almost everyone is sure to encounter in their search for orchestral employment. A central goal of rep class is to expose the students to these passages and help them on their road to mastery of them. Students in rep class are not all at the same level of development, and there is no expectation that everyone will finish the semester able to perform the material perfectly. Instead, each student is expected to use this class as a place to grow technically and musically, from the faculty and from each other.

The Peabody Bass Department Orchestral Repertoire Class is designed around a two year cyclical plan. The plan began as a simple conversation on how to conserve teaching resources in 1989 between then faculty Hal Robinson and Paul Johnson. The class takes the most common pieces used in American orchestra auditions and cycles them through a period of four semesters. All graduate students will complete the cycle once. All undergraduates will go through the cycle once and then repeat it, to get a second opportunity to apply their improving skills on material already learned. The end of each semester is marked by a graded and adjudicated “mock audition” with screened playing, video tape and guest adjudicators.

Current Orchestral Rep Class Curriculum

Year 1


Semester I Semester II
Mozart – Symphony No. 39 Mozart – Symphony No. 40
Strauss – Ein Heldenleben Schubert – Symphony No. 9
Beethoven – Symphony No. 5 Brahms – Symphony No. 1
Mendelssohn – Symphony    No. 4 Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique
Verdi – Otello Shostakovitch – Symphony    No. 5
Stravinsky – Pulcinella Ginastera – Variaciones Concertantes


Year 2


Semester I Semester II
Beethoven – Symphony No. 9 Haydn – Symphony No. 88
Strauss – Don Juan Brahms – Symphony No. 2
Mozart – Symphony No. 35 Beethoven – Symphony No. 7
Bartok – Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta Britten – Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
Mahler – Symphony No. 1 Mahler – Symphony No. 2
Prokofiev – Lt. Kije Suite Bach – Orchestra Suite No. 2