Percussion Syllabi

Major/Professional Applied Percussion I-VIII
Professor Dean Witten

Lessons are scheduled by each student when the lesson sign-up sheet is posted on the studio door, usually the first day of classes. Lessons begin in the second week of classes, unless individual students are prepared for the first week, in which case, lessons are scheduled with those students.
During the first two years of study there is no difference in the instruction of major applied or professional applied percussion. It is the underlying philosophy of the studio that teachers should be expert performers.

Major Applied I /Professional Applied I

The focus of the first semester of percussion lessons is on technique and the
identification of the student’s technical proficiency and/or weakness. Great effort is put into communicating exactly what assignments are to be prepared, what level of preparation is expected and how to produce an aesthetically ”good” sound on each of the percussion instruments. Materials studied include Podemski Standard Method for the Snare Drum, Goodman Modem Method for Timpani, Goldenberg Modem School for the Xylophone and the John Beck Blue Book. These books are used until the student has mastered the techniques required to move into more sophisticated college level materials. Students are drilled in solfeggio to improve timpani tuning skills. Students are graded on the amount of material accomplished, level of weekly preparation, effectiveness in absorbing new philosophies/techniques, willingness to make the necessary changes presented and overall effort.

Major Applied/Professional Applied II

The second semester continues the work begun in the first. All the same materials are studied and emphasis is placed on self-analysis by the student Learning to self-evaluate is the key to independent progress on the percussion instruments. It is the goal at this point to have the student out of the materials listed above and into Cirone Portraits in Rhythm, Hochrainer Etuden fur Timpani and a G.F. Handel Sonata performed on the marimba . The student is expected to perform on a departmental recital in this semester. At the end of this semester, the student should be making the transition to four-mallet marimba playing which will result in study of Peters Yellow After the Rain. In addition, the student should have completed about 6-8 etudes in Portraits in Rhythm, and about 10 etudes in the Hochrainer timpani book. Before the semester ends, each student will spend about 5-6 weeks preparing for the end of the year jury exam, which will be a mini- recital of 15 minutes in length, consisting of performances on marimba, timpani and multiple percussion. A drum set requirement is also added to this jury exam. The music to be performed on the jury exam is chosen by the student in consultation with the professor. The jury counts for approximately 50% of the semester grade and the remaining 50% is graded as described in Applied I and II.

Major/Professional Applied III and IV

The student continues with the study of the snare drum in Portraits in Rhythm and some orchestral excerpts including Ravel’s Bolero. Work may also begin in Delecluse 12 Etudes for the Snare Drum. Timpani study in Hochrainer continues with some additional orchestral study including Beethoven Symphony #7. Continuing on the marimba with the development of four-mallet technique, the student will learn and perform in departmental recital a Musser Etude. Students who are able to move beyond this point begin to choose marimba solos that will include Monograph IV, Cat Clock, Rain Dance, Meditation and Dance and other such possibilities. A jury is performed at the end of the second year as previously described. Jury music is selected by the student and the professor to challenge the student both musically and technically. Grades are assigned as described above. For students in the professional applied track, this jury is called the Sophomore Proficiency Exam and it is used to gauge whether or not the student has accomplished enough to project a successful junior recital performance that will be comparable to difficulty of repertoire, technical proficiency, musicality, professionalism, stage presence, etc. Students falling short will be advised to change from professional applied lessons to either major applied or general music, or in the worst case scenario, to change to a major other than music.

Major/Professional Applied V and VI

For students in major applied V and VI, this year marks the final year of study in method books, technical studies-and other such materials. Emphasis is placed on performance of solo material for all the percussion instruments, with the exception of the snare drum, where continued study in Portraits in Rhythm or 12 Etudes for Snare Drum is continued. Orchestral repertoire is presented on all the percussion instruments during this year. Performance on departmental recitals is expected at least once this year on marimba, multiple percussion or timpani. Solo material consistent for this year of study includes Stout Mexican Dances, Stevens Album for the Young, Debussy Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum, Beck Sonata for Timpani, Mancini Timpani Pieces, Elliott Carter 8 Pieces for Timpani, Creston Marimba Concertino, GH Green ragtime xylophone solos, etc.
Students in the Jazz track must include as 50%o of their recital program, jazz selections with a small ensemble, the content of which is determined by the Director of Jazz Studies and the jazz drum teacher. At the end of the third year of study, major applied students will play the jury exam, as before, but this examination is used to determine the prognosis for a successful senior recital in the same way the sophomore proficiency exam is used for performance majors. Students who have performed a junior recital are exempted from this jury exam. In the professional applied area, a grade of Incomplete will be assigned if the recital is not performed for any reason. Otherwise, grading is as described earlier

Major/Professional Applied VII and VIII

In all cases,this year is devoted to the performance of the senior recital and in some
cases the preparation of graduate school auditions. The study of orchestral repertoire is continued and performance on departmental recitals is required. Students are also encouraged to perform their recital material for music appreciation and theory classes to afford an opportunity for multiple “practice runs” of this recital music before the actual recital. This will help the student feel experienced and confident during the recital. Music chosen for the senior recital is a collaboration between the professor, who gives the student a wide variety of choices for each instrument, and the student, who will make the actual decisions. Recital repertoire must be consistent with the national standard at other NASM institutions. In both professional and major applied areas, a grade of Incomplete will be assigned to any student who does not perform the senior recital during this year for any reason.

Percussion Ensemble Syllabus

Professor Dean Witten
Monday 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Friday 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM

Course Objectives
The percussion ensemble is a performance vehicle that enhances the work done in the applied studio. The private lesson will on occasion be devoted to the performance of the percussion ensemble music. Music and concerts are planned to cultivate the performance abilities of each student in a way that is both technically challenging and musically demanding. Three evening concerts are normally presented on campus each year, with numerous off-campus concerts, open house performances and other special presentations rounding out the yearly performance schedule. This ensemble is required of all percussion students in the applied music studios.


Students are graded on the basis of their performances, rehearsal preparation, level of participation, level of dependability, attendance, punctuality, teamwork, cooperation and openness to musical criticism from the conductor. Other factors affecting the grade will be the students’ open-mindedness toward new ideas and unfamiliar music. Grade of Incomplete will be assigned to any student who doesn’t return the percussion ensemble music at the end of the semester.


Students are required to be at all rehearsals and performances. No unexcused absences are tolerated. Any absence must be either requested in advance or in the case of an unforeseen absence, the student must call the conductor to notify him of their inability to attend the particular rehearsal. Missing a dress rehearsal is never permitted and any student who misses a dress rehearsal will not be permitted to perform on the concert. Attendance at rehearsals includes a responsibility of punctuality and early set0-up to allow for rehearsals to begin right on time. Music to be rehearsed will be posted early on the day of each rehearsal to allow students to focus their practicing on the specific music on that day’s agenda.


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