The UA Percussion Studio is one of the most active and forward-thinking studios in the country. There’s always something exciting happening.
News & Announcements
In Spring 2023 the University of Arizona Percussion Studio set out to learn the frame drum. As a part of this learning experience they became interested in building drums of their own! With the guidance of studio members Dan Kruse, Katelynn Ward, and Griffin Law,...
The University of Arizona Percussion Studio is thrilled to announce its upcoming concert featuring the music of Michael Udow, Daniel Goode, Rob Funkhouser, and frame drum transcriptions from Jason Koontz. Join us on March 20 at 7pm in the Laboratory for Tree Ring...
Malleus recently joined forces with the Fred Fox Graduate Wind Quintet to produce a performance of Terry Riley’s seminal work In C. The performance took place at the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree Ring Research. This concert was part of on going...
Faculty & GTAs
Ensembles & Calendar
- 2/26-3/1 – 44th Annual AZ Jazz Week
- 3/3, 7:30pm – Arizona Symphony Orchestra, The Emergence of the American Composer
- 3/20, 7:00pm – UA Percussion Ensemble at Laboratory of Tree Ring Research
- 3/23-3/25 – TurnUp Festival
- 3/30, 7:30pm – Corey Denham, Doctoral Ensemble Recital
- 4/2, 7:00pm – Tucson Guitar Society Orchestra with Mack Wolz, David Sewell and Corey Denham
- 4/14, 7:30pm – “La tragédie de Carmen” adapted by Peter Brook, music by Georges Bizet
- 4/16, 3:00pm – “La tragédie de Carmen” adapted by Peter Brook, music by Georges Bizet
- 4/21, 7:30pm – UA Concert Jazz Band and UA Studio Jazz Ensemble
- 4/23, 7:30pm – UA Jazz Combos
- 4/26, 7:30pm – UA Percussion Ensemble
- 4/27, 7:30pm – Wind Symphony
- 4/28, 7:30pm – Philharmonic Orchestra
- 4/29, 7:30pm- Wind Ensemble
- 4/30, 3:00pm – Arizona Symphony Orchestra and Arizona Choirs
- 4/30, 7:30pm – UA Steel Pan Ensemble
- Percussion Ensemble
- UA Steel Pan Ensemble
- World Music Gang
- Rosewood Marimba Band
- Speak-Easy Xylophone Ragtime Band
The Percussion Group meets from 7-9 a.m. on Tuesdays and 6-8 p.m. on Thursdays. We also meet most Fridays from 4-5 p.m. on Fridays in room 170 of the School of Music. The percussion ensemble is open to any percussionist at the UA who wishes to perform on a regular basis. The ensemble provides the student with the opportunity to perform and become familiar with the ever-growing volume of percussion ensemble literature. Composing and conducting opportunities will also be presented and encouraged. The ensemble presents public performances and clinic sessions each semester. Participation in the percussion ensemble is expected as many semesters as possible in order for the student to acquaint him or herself with the vast literature and techniques of the percussion ensemble.
The steel band program at the UA is one of the oldest and most respected in the country. The program offers any student who shows ability and desire to perform on pans the opportunity to explore the rich traditions of Trinidadian steel band music as well as classical and pop transcriptions. The band rehearses on Monday and Wednesday evenings and is open to any qualified students enrolled at UA, as well as community members. Membership and enrollment permission is granted through permission of Dr. Morris Palter, the Director of the UA percussion program. No previous steel band experience is necessary; however, good time with a natural ability to groove and knowledge of note reading, scales, and chords is helpful..! The percussion program offers a full TA to either a MM or DMA student to co-direct the group. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
CrossTalk is a select group of students who comprise the only performance group of its kind in the world today. The philosophy of the ensemble is to create and perform new works and offer new musical experiences with electronic percussion technology. In CrossTalk, students gain knowledge and experience working with the newest cutting-edge electronic percussion instruments. Students write, arrange, program, and produce compositions that are performed live. Membership in CrossTalk is open to any UA students interested in exploring new technology and by permission of director, Dr. Morris Palter.
The World Music Gang focuses its repertoire on traditional music from other cultures. Entirely taught through oral tradition, the ensemble members are given the opportunity to experience the learning process without written music. While the focus of the Gang is musical, the cultural contexts relevant to the music studied are inherently stressed giving the students and the audience a deeper understanding of its meaning and personal enjoyment to the music played. The World Music Gang has been performing on the UA campus since its formation in 2003. The group is directed by Chris Wabich, a recognized expert in world music.
Rosewood is a select group of students who perform the classic ragtime arrangements of Green, Breuer, Joplin, and others as well as classical and folk transcriptions. Additionally, Rosewood performs the finest original contemporary works for marimba and keyboard ensembles. Rosewood presents many performances each semester around the Southwest and is recognized as one of the outstanding ensembles in the School of Music. Membership is through competitive audition each fall and credit is through the Percussion Ensemble class.
Malleus is the newest chamber ensemble in the UA Percussion Studio. It is comprised of DMA students enrolled in the studio and has at various times been a trio, quartet, and quintet. Students in Malleus are responsible for every aspect of the group: picking repertoire, arranging rehearsals, scheduling concerts and concert promotion. This gives each member of Malleus the experience of running and managing a professional-style chamber ensemble.
Created in 2018, the Speak-Easy Xylophone Ragtime Band is directed by Ragtime xylophone specialist, Dr Morris Palter, and is comprised of between 8-10 percussion studio members for any one performance. The group regularly performs 4-6 concerts per academic year – on campus and off-campus events.
- Arizona Symphony Orchestra
- Arizona Philharmonic Orchestra
- Wind Ensemble
- Wind Symphony
- Pride of Arizona Marching Band
- Symphonic Band
- Jazz Ensembles
- To rehearse and perform important works of the orchestral and operatic repertoires
- To train and nurture students in developing their large ensemble playing skills
- To place the students’ understanding of the art of music in the context of the sister arts, history and culture.
Inside the Percussion Studio
Percussion Studio Philosophy
Percussion Studies at The University of Arizona are designed to develop in the percussionist the highest possible level of musicianship and an appropriate competency in performance and teaching, depending on the curriculum of study the student pursues. The University of Arizona percussion faculty includes Dr. Morris Palter, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies (office 110G); Fred Hayes (drum set). Graduate Teaching Assistants, Michael Pratt and Jacob Ransom, provide additional instruction and mentoring for students, teach the percussion methods class, coach UA chamber percussion groups, and help direct the percussion ensembles. The percussion curriculum is designed to present a relevant sequence of study of all the percussion instruments throughout each degree program. Musical performance skills, historical and stylistic understanding, and pedagogical concepts of education will be acquired through the following:
- The mastery of a technical facility and understanding of concepts of phrasing that will enable the student to perform with sensitivity and musical expression on percussion instruments.
- The cultivation of an understanding of the interrelations of mental and physical (psycho-physiological) aspects involved in the learning of musical skills and the performance of music.
- Performance of a cross-section of the very best literature in all styles and areas of percussion.
- The development of the ability to read at sight.
- Experience in solo and ensemble performance.
- Regular attendance and participation in weekly percussion master classes and recitals.
- The cultivation of an understanding of teaching procedure and practice, pedagogical systems, and rehearsal and conducting techniques. Observation of the working procedure in the private studio, master classes, and ensemble rehearsals is relevant to these goals.
The student’s scholarly and applied preparation and performance of materials while enrolled in percussion studies should:
- Reflect his or her progressive understanding and mastery of tone production and technical development on the respective percussion instruments. This should include concepts of rhythmic understanding, dynamic observance and control, technical velocity, pitch accuracy, and articulation and phrasing with touch and finesse.
- Continually demonstrate an awareness of the mental aspects involved in achieving high quality musical expression in performance and teaching.
- Show a clear understanding of the selected music with regards to musical style and form, including the ability to verbalize about the historical relevance and placement of the piece, the tonal framework and/or compositional techniques employed. Performance should be stylistically correct with regard to the rhythmic, articulation and phrasing concepts of the period and style.
- Be musically meaningful considering the student’s instinctive talents and level of achievement.
The Fred Fox School of Music offers a complete range of degree options for the percussionist, including (but not limited to):
- Bachelor of Music
- Percussion Emphasis
- Jazz Studies Emphasis
- Music Education
- Bachelor of Arts in Music
- Master of Music in Performance
- Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Music Education
- Music Theory
Visit music.arizona.edu for more information and degree plan options.
Audition Information for New Students
Requirements for Undergraduate Admission into Percussion Studies and Scholarship Consideration: A personal audition with the percussion faculty or an audio/video recording is required to determine the student’s ability and acceptance into the studio. A student should be able to demonstrate proficiency in at least two of the following four main areas of percussion performance for entrance into the Percussion Studio and in at least three of the areas to be considered for scholarship. Scholarships in the Percussion Studio are based on ability and future potential.
- SNARE DRUM
- Concert-style: A published concert-style solo or etude from Anthony Cirone’s Portraits in Rhythm, Jacques Delecluse’s Twelve Etudes for Snare Drum (Douze Etudes pour Caisse-Claire), Vic Firth’s The Solo Snare Drummer, or equivalent. Select material that best represents your musical and technical development such as control of rhythm, dynamics, expression, rolls, ornaments, and touch.
- Rudimental-style: A published rudimental-style solo or etude from Charles Wilcoxon’s The All American Drummer, John Pratt’s Fourteen Rudimental Contest Solos, Edward Freytag’s Rudimental Cookbook, Scott Johnson’s Progression, or equivalent. Select material that best represents your musical and technical development such as control of a wide variety and style of rudiments and rolls, control of dynamics, physical dexterity, expression, accuracy of rhythm, and touch.
- KEYBOARD PERCUSSION (Marimba, Vibraphone, Xylophone)
- Two Mallets: A published two-mallet solo or etude from Morris Goldenberg’s Modern School for Xylophone, Marimba and Vibraphone, Garwood Waley’s Recital Pieces for Mallets, Thomas McMillan’s Fundamental Studies for Mallets or equivalent. Select material that best represents your musical and technical development such as control of rhythm, dynamics, expression, rolls, tone quality, and touch.
- Four Mallets: A published four-mallet solo or etude from James Moyer’s Four-Mallet Method for Marimba, Bart Quartier’s Image, Nancy Zeltsman’s Four Mallet Marimba Playing, Mark Ford’s Marimba:Technique Through Music, or equivalent. Select material that best represents your musical and technical development such as control of rhythm, dynamics, expression, rolls, tone quality, and touch.
- A published solo or etude from Saul Goodman’s Modern Method for Timpani, Garwood Whaley’s Musical Studies for the Intermediate Timpanist, Mitchell Peters’ Fundamental Method for Timpani, or equivalent. Select material that best represents your musical and technical development such as control of rhythm, dynamics, expression, rolls, tuning skills, tone quality, and touch.
- DRUM SET
- A published solo or a demonstation of musical styles including jazz, rock, and contemporary world-music styles (Afro-Cuban, Braziian, etc.) This demonstration should include the ability to play time, improvising fills and solos, and chart reading.
Requirements for Graduate Admission into Percussion Studies: Graduate students must audition to be accepted into the Percussion Studio. Audition repertoire is left to the discretion of the student, but should demonstrate the student’s musical and technical development. Repertoire may include solo literature, chamber literature, orchestral excerpts, or advanced etudes. Graduate students must perform on snare drum, keyboard percussion, and timpani. If the student has the appropriate skills, performance on drum set, hand drums, ethnic instruments, and percussion accessories is highly encouraged. If you have any questions concerning graduate-level audition repertoire, please contact Dr. Morris Palter, Director of Percussion Studies at email@example.com
Large Ensemble Audition Repertoire
Auditions are required of all undergraduate percussionists who are enrolled, or are wishing to enroll in applied lessons. As required by the School of Music, all students enrolled in private lessons must perform in one of the large conducted ensembles. To be clear: Unless you are excused by the Director of the School of Music, you will be playing in a large ensemble if you are enrolled in lessons. This means that you MUST take this audition. Further to this, you MUST perform in a large ensemble in the area of the degree you are seeking (i.e. jazz majors must play in one of the two jazz large ensembles, non-jazz majors must perform in one of the orchestral/wind band large ensembles. Please contact Dr. Morris Palter at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
The audition will help determine personnel best qualified for these ensembles as well as give all auditionees the experience of preparing and taking a professional audition. The audition will consist of only the prepared orchestral excerpts as specified in the audition list and highlighted.
If you are a new student, or have not formally studied excerpts, you will need to prepare yourself as best you can on the excerpts. Apply your own good musical sense about rhythm and technique, get a score and study the excerpts for musical context, and listen to several recordings for style, tempo and phrasing. Do your best for your ability and experience.
Auditions will be held Saturday, August 24th, 2019 starting at 9:00 a.m. in room 170 with Dr. Palter and the Graduate TA’s. Auditions will be screened. All instruments will be provided at the audition site. Players may bring their own instruments if preferred but must be set up before their playing time. (Room 170 is reserved for percussionists starting at 8:00 a.m. on August 24th.) Persons auditioning found to be less than prepared will be dismissed from the audition.
Individuals will be ranked in order of playing ability. Individuals will be allowed to pick the large ensemble they would like to perform, going in order of audition placement/rank. IMPORTANT NOTE – there is no guarantee you will be awarded your top choice. This may be due a number of reasons including too many/too little percussionists in any one ensemble, or non-music related class conflicts. That said, every attempt will be made to place you in your ensemble of choice. Please review the hours that these ensembles meet in order to avoid class conflicts.
A PDF file of all the required audition excerpts can be found here. Download Large Ensemble Audition Material PDF
Find some good recordings (i.e., major orchestras, well known conductors, great percussionists), listen to as many recordings of the same excerpt as possible for the phrasing, tempo, style, texture (blend or soloistic), musical context, etc. Make study files/CDs and play alongs and practice with them. Online music sites such as Spotify and even YouTube can be great sources of recordings.
Get a score for the excerpt and study the musical context of the part in relation to the full ensemble (i.e., nature of the passage, phrasing, balance – is the part solo or accompaniment, how can you best enhance the music?)
Master the “mechanics” of the ink – rhythm, notes, dynamics, technical issues, etc. with a metronome. Decide on stickings or specialized performing techniques for the best phrasing and accuracy. Then “go beyond the ink” and make music with a beautiful sound and musical phrasing played with finesse and a refined touch.
Consider instrument selection, tuning (heads/snares), sticks, etc. (Summer is a good time to buy tambourines and triangles…!)
Practice Room - 110
Room 110 is the largest room in the percussion area. It is used for storage of larger keyboard percussion instruments as well as for small ensemble rehearsals and large multiple-percussion setups.
Practice Room - 110A
Room 110A is the main teaching studio. It contains a set of four Yamaha Timpani, a Marimba One 5 octave marimba with upgraded bars and Basso Bravo resonators, and three snare drums. In addition, 110-A houses a digital video camera, a digital audio recorder, a stereo system, a DVD system, and hundreds of videos of student performances. 110-A also features a Apple computer with M-Audio keyboard and a variety of software for notation and sequencing.
Practice Room - 110B
Room 110B is primarily a multiple-percussion practice room. It contains a number of different instruments includings drums, cymbals, blocks, and various keyboards. In this room, students can set up a multiple-percussion piece and have the instruments available on a regular basis. Students often use this room to practice percussion excerpts for snare drum, xylophone, orchestra bells, and hand percussion.
Practice Room - 110C
Room 110C is where our second 5.0 Octave Marimba One lives. This is a beautiful instrument and features Marimba One's newest height adjustment technology.
Practice Room - 110D
110D is where our 5.0 Octave Mallet Tech marimba lives. This is an older instrument with fantastic bars.
Practice Room - 110E
Room 110E is the drumset teaching studio. It is also used by students practicing drum set and electronic drum set. It features complete Yamaha acoustic and electronic kit along with a stereo system.
Practice Room - 110F
Room 110F is primarily a timpani practice room. It contains at new set of Adams Hammered Kettle Bowls. It also contains a snare drum for practice and storage for some talking drums and square drums from Ghana.
Practice Room - 48
Room 48 is in the lower level of the music building and is used primarily for multiple-percussion practice and electronic drumset practice. It contains a CD player and several method books for student practice.
Practice Room - 50
Room 50 is also located in the lower level and contains a beautiful vintage "baby" Gretch drum set for student practice.
Practice Room - 52
Room 52 is for general percussion practice and contains a 4.3 Octave Musser marimba, snare drum, and a set of Adams Revolution timpani.
Rehearsal Room - 170
Room 170 is the large instrumental rehearsal room. The UA Percussion Ensembles and World Music Gang rehearse here, as does the Wind Ensemble and the UA Symphony Orchestra. The room is available for percussion practice during the evening and on weekends by reservation. It contains both Ringer and Adams Philharmonic timpani, marimbas, xylophones, vibraphones, bass drums, other large percussion instruments, and a large stand case called "Monstro".
Rehearsal Room - 170A
Room 170A is our main percussion storage room off of Room 170. It is dedicated to percussion storage of drums, tam tams and gongs, orchestra bells, crotales, a drum set, and assorted hand percussion.
Rehearsal Room - 170B
Room 170B is a storage room off of Room 170 that is used for storage of our "Cymbal Vault", our Yamaha Maple Custom drum set and a few other unique percussion instruments.