Percussion Instrumental Performance

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The mission of UM’s Percussion Program is to refine and diversify our percussionists, while empowering them to meet and exceed the high musical demands of the 21st century. The cornerstones of our program feature “up-to-date” expertise offered by our faculty, and the students’ ability to study with both professors seamlessly and simultaneously. The main focuses for the musical development of our students are soloistic and orchestral, however both are unified by the essential element of non-conducted percussion chamber music. At the graduate level our students are given the rare opportunity of pursuing more specific direction in orchestral or solo percussion with slightly customized curriculum, which still features lessons with both professors and chamber music. 

Such an inventive and advanced creative environment for our students places us in the forefront of today’s percussion education. It allows Professor Svet Stoyanov and Professor Matt Strauss to fulfill their vision of training not only percussionists, but musicians.

 

To learn more about Percussion Programs, please click here.

Percussion is an exciting musical field that uses a wide variety of instruments to create and keep a beat, add accents to any musical piece, and evoke emotional response among audiences. If you have a background in playing the drums or other percussive instruments, have the ability to keep good time and tempo, and have the intention to practice extensively and excel in the percussion field, enrolling in a percussion program may be a good choice for you.

What is Percussion?

Percussion is the use of many instruments that create a vibration to make a sound. Percussion instruments include a vast variety of drums, shakers, xylophones, and even unconventional instruments that use household materials to create sound. In the percussion field, instruments are categorized according to how they produce sound. Sound can be created through the friction between two surfaces, through a mallet hitting a vibrating bar, through a stick hitting a taut drum, or through another percussive method.

A Short History of Percussion Programs

Percussion instruments exist in every culture of the world. They are, perhaps, one of the oldest types of instruments. Long ago, humans patted their chests, clapped their hands, and created other percussive sounds using the human body itself. As time advanced, people began creating more advanced percussion instruments. Each culture possesses unique percussion instruments. With the advent of widely available higher education, music was a crucial component of the liberal arts. These days, more percussion programs are available than ever before. Plenty of percussionists have certificates or B.S. degrees in percussion, with some students pursuing advanced higher ed at the graduate and PhD levels.

How Do I Know If Percussion is the Right Career Path for Me?

One of the characteristics of any percussionist is the ability to play a variety of instruments. A percussionist will select her instrument depending on the genre and other musicians in the ensemble. This is one of the things that differentiates percussionists from other musicians: while most musicians can play multiple instruments, non-percussionists tend to primarily focus on a single instrument. If playing multiple instruments excites you and you are inherently collaborative by nature, you may want to become a professional percussionist.

Job Outlook Predictions in the World of Percussion

In certain ways, other ensemble musicians rely on percussions as the “glue” of a performance. While it’s imperative that all musicians are working at peak capacity, the percussionist plays a vital role that joins the various musical roles together. Percussion is a flexible, transferable career choice through which you can pursue many paths. Some percussionists choose to tour or perform professionally. Other percussionists decide that teaching is their calling. They work with students at the primary, secondary, college, or graduate level. Still other percussionists find studio work, commercial work, or another niche in the field.

Top Five Characteristics of The World’s Best Percussion Programs

Before you enroll in a percussion program, it’s important to consider several important programmatic factors:

1. The Size of the Class

  1. Anyone who’s attended music school can tell you: large music classes just don’t work. Because it’s a hands-on field, you will learn best in classes where the instructor knows you by name. Make sure to the school about their typical class size (and, if possible, sit in on one) so that you know what kind of environment the institution offers.

2. Attention Devoted to Your Individual Journey

  1. Every musician is different. Especially at the beginning of your music school journey, you will bring to bear a unique combination of strengths and growth areas. A school that focuses on helping you cultivate your individual voice as a musician will position you to soar.

3. Opportunities to Collaborate with Other Musicians

  1. Music school is the perfect place to begin to establish a network of musicians you will collaborate with again and again for life. The members of countless successful bands and other ensembles met each other in music school. A school that encourages collaboration will only help you in the quest to meet your lifetime collaborators.

4. Real-World Opportunities

  1. Serving as a guest musician or even a sub can be the key to getting your foot in the door to the next opportunity. A school with a vast network can offer you opportunities off-campus so that when you graduate, you will know what you will do next.

5. The Context of a Wider Percussion Community

  1. Connections to other alumni, instructors, and their mentors will be granted to you as a percussion school graduate. When you become part of a school that is connected to the percussion world writ large, you will be granted the opportunity to participate in the kinds of opportunities that don’t just fall into your lap.

What Do I Need to Know Before Applying to a Program in Percussion?

Though no school will expect you to be a master percussion player even before you enter, you will be expected to already possess percussion ability and promise. Many schools will ask you to send an audition tape or even audition in person so that they can get a sense of your abilities before accepting you. As you prepare to apply to percussion school, you should take care when selecting the pieces you will perform. It will be the first impression you make in front of the admissions committee. Make sure you put your best foot forward!

Finding a Percussion Program That is the Right Fit For You

When pursuing a career in percussion, it’s important to select the right school. While percussion is a basic building block of music, some music schools have more established percussion programs than others. The Frost School of Music at the University of Miami possesses an esteemed percussion program with a reputation for producing musicians of the highest quality. Furthermore, The Frost School is the only music institution that uses The Frost Method™, an approach to teaching and learning where you are put in a classroom setting with an intimate cohort of peers. We know from experience that The Frost Method™ is the best way to learn, but you don’t have to take our word for it: Frost alumni are performing professionally all over the world.