Berklee College of Music

Top music college relies on FileMaker Go for iPad to select the world's future music stars

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Making beautiful music with FileMaker Go for iPad

Berklee College of Music streamlines recruiting for 7,200 applicants across six continents each year.


  • World-class music college focused on the study and practice of contemporary music with more than 4,000 students.


  • Higher education


  • Developed comprehensive prospect evaluation system; extended to iPad in days with FileMaker Go


  • Streamlined global audition and interview process; brought new levels of consistency to evaluations; eased application process for prospects
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FileMaker Go for iPad helps streamline the audition and admissions process.

Six teams of recruiters are scouring the corners of the earth, from Europe and Asia to Africa and Australia. Their job: to audition and interview the most promising new musician-applicants to the world-famous and highly selective Berklee College of Music. Instead of lugging laptops, they use FileMaker Go, the best-selling business database app for iPad, to assess prospects and track their credentials.

"We sometimes audition and interview 300 students a day," says Damien Bracken, dean of admissions for Berklee College of Music. “With 80 faculty and 40 staff on the road throughout the year and 7,200 applicants annually, the admissions process would be nearly impossible to manage without FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Server and FileMaker Go for iPad."

FileMaker Go has become the core element that has helped us meet the demands of auditioning students with different musical and cultural backgrounds from 83 different countries and all 50 states.

— Damien Bracken, Dean of Admissions, Berklee College of Music
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FileMaker database access without lugging a laptop.

From Desktop to iPad in a Beat

When he became Dean of Admissions, Bracken worked with FileMaker developer The Support Group to create a new database for applicant evaluation based on FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server. The FileMaker system organizes schedules and audition and interview details, as well as providing links to online videos of prospect performances. Descriptive text and ratings on a predetermined scale help evaluators score each student. The system also incorporates data such as student ID numbers from a legacy student information system and online applications and transcripts from a SQL database.

Having developed a comprehensive database, Bracken wanted to allow traveling evaluators to access it on the go, without having to carry heavy laptops. As soon as FileMaker Go became available, he was eager to bring the system to the iPad. With an existing FileMaker database, extending the information to iOS devices was a matter of a few simple refinements completed by admissions staff that took, at most, a week. Admissions also maintains and updates the system without reliance on IT, thanks to the flexibility and ease-of-use of the FileMaker database.

Today, traveling recruiters take a local copy of the database with them on iPad, a big help in areas of the world with limited Internet access. They synchronize the data when they return to Berklee.

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FileMaker Go levels the playing field by bringing consistency to evaluations.

Tuned for success

The admissions process is crucial to the college's success. Since its founding in 1945, Berklee has fostered the careers of a constellation of superstars – among them, pianist and singer Diana Krall, Grammy Award-winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding, multi-million-album selling American-Chinese pop star Wang Leehom and Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen. Even those who don't achieve global acclaim become busy studio musicians or fill other vital roles – 65% of graduates work full-time in the music industry. To date, Berklee alumni have won 205 Grammy Awards. They have also built an unparalleled professional network that spans the globe.

The college's blueprint for success includes a welcoming, warm admissions process focused on strengths and a curriculum that helps students discover their own viable career paths. To gauge each applicant's fit for the school, Bracken and the recruiting teams not only judge singing or playing an instrument, but also chart other skills and affinities. Did the prospective student create a play-along track in GarageBand? Why does he or she want to attend Berklee? Does the applicant appreciate a wide variety of musical genres?

Hopefuls are evaluated in a holistic yet highly selective way, making the evaluation process more than a matter of simple checklists. Using FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Server and FileMaker Go, Bracken and his team have tamed admissions complexity and, by equipping evaluators with a common tool, benefitted applicants by bringing more consistency to the evaluation process. The system also has improved the level of service provided to applicants by automating processes such as audition scheduling.

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The FileMaker Go system has made the entire admissions team more productive and dynamic.

A database even a musician could love

Before becoming dean of admissions, Bracken headed up scholarships and student employment. Highly manual processes and dependence on a rigid enterprise student information system led him to seek out a better way to organize and manage data. He conducted in-depth research that led him to FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server software as the best way to aggregate, analyze and share student information, and extend it to iOS devices. Bracken found FileMaker software intuitive, despite the fact that he is, first and foremost, a classical pianist and composer, not a database expert.

Having extended FileMaker solutions to the admissions process, recruiters have what they need for evaluations, reporting and insights wherever they are. Even if he is sitting in an airport in India, there is no query Bracken can't answer in seconds, from how many female trombonists are applying to the overall schedule of auditions for the day. According to Bracken, the FileMaker Go system has made the entire admissions team more productive and dynamic, and promoted a greater sense of empowerment and self-reliance.

"FileMaker Go has become the core element that has helped us meet the demands of auditioning students with different musical and cultural backgrounds from 83 different countries and all 50 states," says Bracken. “I doubt we could continually succeed in identifying, assessing and recruiting talent on the level and scale we have without FileMaker and FileMaker Go."

For Berklee College of Music

Damien Bracken
Dean of Admissions
(617) 747-2367


Berklee College of Music


Berklee College of Music

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