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Percussion Handbook


Communication from faculty will happen primarily via email. Please check email EVERY day. If there is an issue about space, instruments, schedule, etc., email communication is the best way to ensure everyone is in the loop and that there is a record of the correspondence for future reference. 

Also, please be respectful when hitting "reply all." Not every correspondence should go to everyone in the department.


We have a unique system for lessons here at The Boston Conservatory. Each student receives 14 lessons each semester, of which a minimum of 6 lessons must be taken with one teacher who will be considered your primary teacher/advisor for that semester. The remainder of lessons can be split between one or two other teachers. Lessons can also be kept to one teacher if that is preferable. Students will have input as to with whom they wish to work in a particular semester; however, the faculty will determine the final exact lesson splits. 

Lessons will be scheduled by individual teachers. Students should try to spread out meetings with a particular teacher over the whole semester. It may be wise to schedule lessons with your primary teacher first, and those with secondary teachers subsequently.

Practice Facilities

We have five rooms at the 1260 Boylston building. The main large ensemble rehearsal space and adjacent storage room may be used for personal practice when available. The 1260 building is open from 6am to 11pm.  Percussion majors have priority over these rooms.  Loud drums (timpani, bass drums, tom-toms, and snare drums without snares) may not be played in the main space or storage room between 9am and 5pm each day (due to contractual agreement with recording studio across the hall).

There are signup calendars/boards posted on each practice room door. Practice time can be signed out no earlier than the day before. You may sign out a room for up to 2 hours and may sign out a total of 4 hours per day amongst all the rooms. If you are not in a room you signed out within 15 minutes of the time you signed it out for, another student may take the room.

Lessons, coachings, and rehearsals should be signed out as early as possible so other students may plan their practicing around these times. You may also submit these times to one of the Department Assistants well in advance (even weeks ahead of time) and they will sign them out for you.

We also have three rooms in the 32 The Fenway building. One of these rooms is a marimba practice rooms for marimba majors only. The other two are open to all percussionists, but will be primarily for marimba practice. Students have access to these rooms from 9am to 9pm. One room in our 31 Hemenway building will be a shared storage room / marimba practice room for marimbists only. Students have access to this room 7am to 2am.

At 1260, please keep the practice room doors closed and locked at all times. These doors do not close on their own, so please make sure to pull them closed whenever you exit a room.

All personal items (stick bags, books, snare drums, coats, etc.) must be kept in a box or bag on the shelves in Room 4. Nothing may be left on the floors of the percussion rooms or in the hallway. Be especially vigilant about keeping Room 4 locked, as it contains everyone's personal belongings.

We are all responsible for keeping all our rooms clean, including the large ensemble space. The department assistants will perform weekly cleanings/organization of 1260. During these cleanups any personal sticks/mallets/etc. that are left around will be placed in the lost and found box in the shop. Any other items left around the studio may be thrown out. Please make an effort to clean up after yourself daily: throw away trash, put away instruments after you are done (especially small instruments and hardware), put all sticks and mallets in their bags when not in use, and generally make an effort to keep things tidy. Below is a list (subject to change) of what instruments are to be in which rooms. This list will serve as a default setting for the studio. If you move an instrument into a room where it doesn’t usually live please return it to it’s proper home when you are finished with it. Extreme untidiness will result in occasional unannounced blitzkrieg-style purges of the rooms, during which your belongings might get thrown in the trash.

  • Room 1: New lights, 20" light, Yamaha xylophone, and Fall Creek glock.
  • Room 2: 5.0 octave Yamaha Marimba
  • Room 3: stands, toms, accessories
  • Room 4: Personal Storage, Small Deagan xylophone
  • Room 5: Yamaha timpani, a vibraphone, Yamaha drumset.
  • Shop: 5.0 octave Marimba One

Alumni may use the 1260 facilities if let in by a current student. Current students have priority and may ask an alumnus to leave. There may be special circumstances under which an alumnus is given additional practice rights, in which case you will be alerted of the situation. 

Treatment of Instruments

As instrumentalists, the way your instruments sound determines the way you sound as a performer. If you abuse your instruments, you will sound bad. Please treat all of our instruments with the same respect you would treat your own belongings. Failure to do so may result in a drop in grade.

DO NOT practice with hard mallets on xylophone.  Please always use soft practice mallets as much as possible. If the faculty finds you practicing with unnecessarily hard mallets on a rosewood instrument, we will confiscate your mallets.

See below for equipment moving guidelines.

Taking Instruments Out of 1260

Boston Conservatory instruments are NOT allowed outside of school property except for school events. For the safety of our instruments, we must restrict school instrument use exclusively to school functions; however, if you are in a bind and need an instrument for a gig, please ask Sam Solomon. Since there is not an easy or consistent place in Boston from which to rent instruments, we may be able to make exceptions. Removal of school equipment without permission can result in a drop in grade or more serious punishment. 

Personal Instruments

Students may bring personal instruments to school. Personal snare drums and smaller instruments (tambourines, triangles, etc.) are considered private instruments; please ask before borrowing. Larger instruments, however, are brought to the school only with the understanding that they will temporarily become part of the school's instrument collection and can be used by everyone. The use of personal drumsets, keyboard instruments, and any other large instrument cannot be restricted. We do not have space to accommodate large non-community instruments. Always BE RESPECTFUL of your colleagues' personal equipment.


If something of yours is missing and you believe it to be stolen, please report the theft to security immediately. They have records of all the keycards that have entered our spaces and have many cameras observing the area. Always report thefts in order to keep you and your belongings safe. If you live nearby, you are encouraged to keep many of your personal belongings in your dorm or apartment to ensure their safety and to keep excessive clutter to a minimum.

Instruments for Rehearsals and Concerts

Everyone is responsible for his or her own instruments for rehearsals. You are expected to arrive at least 15-30 minutes early to every rehearsal to set up your instruments, sticks, mallets, trap tables, music, etc. Please be respectful of sectionals or other rehearsals in which you are not involved; try to set up beforehand or very quietly so you do not disturb the rehearsal and so you are ready to start when your rehearsal begins. After rehearsals, you are expected to put all instruments back where they belong to keep the rehearsal space clean and clear of percussion clutter. 

Towards the start of the rehearsal cycle for a particular concert, each student must email a list of all the instruments they require for the concert to one of the Department Assistants (DA). He or she will consolidate these lists and deliver the final list to our Concert Manager, Tuaha Khan, for the movers. This list must be in Tuaha's hands no later than two weeks before the concert, so please get your lists to the DA promptly. The DA will send out an email to the studio letting everyone know when the move for the concert is happening as soon as he gets that information from Tuaha.

For the move to the concert, each player is responsible for the equipment he or she needs. The night before the move, you must SAFELY pack up all the equipment you need (see guidelines below) and put it in the designated area by the front door of the main 1260 rehearsal space. If you do not do this, your instruments might not make it to the performance venue.  

After the concert, EVERYONE must stay to pack up the equipment. Once the equipment is delivered back to 1260, EVERYONE involved in the concert is responsible for putting away each piece of equipment neatly. Instruments must be reassembled and put away no later than ONE day after the concert. There is a lot of traffic in the 1260 hallway, so we need to keep our equipment safe and out of the way. If you play a concert, you are expected to come to 1260 early the next day to clean up. Failure to do so will result in a drop in grade.

To move instruments for smaller ensemble events occurring at the 8 Fenway building (personal or friends' recitals, composers concerts, etc.) you must make arrangements with Tuaha Khan well before the event. Moving percussion instruments to and from 8 Fenway costs the school hundreds of dollars, so for some non-required events, your request to move instruments may be denied. You MAY NOT move instruments yourself without the supervision of Tuaha Khan and permission from Sam Solomon. 

The 5-octave Marimba One in the 1108 space will be the primary instrument used for events at 8 Fenway and The Boston Conservatory Theater. Students are expected to transport this instrument on their own, rounding up help from other students. Since these instruments are large, everyone is required help their colleagues with marimba cartage.  Please always move the marimba in its cases. 

Instrument Moving Guidelines

Please follow these guidelines when packing equipment for moves: 

Hardware: All hardware must be broken down. Make sure any wing nuts are securely fastened so we don't lose cymbal felts, sleeves, or the nuts themselves.

Timpani: All timpani must be covered. When moving the Lights, be sure to put a pedal lock on each drum. 

Drums: All smaller drums (toms, snares, congas, timbales etc.) should be in cases or wrapped in blankets. Larger drums (bass drum) should be covered if a blanket is available after the smaller drums have been taken care of. 

Keyboards: If you are asked to help breakdown or move a marimba, your answer must be "yes."  5-octave instruments must be broken down and put in their appropriate cases. 4.3 Octave marimbas should be broken down and put in cases or wrapped in blankets. The two Deagan xylophones should be broken down and wrapped in blankets; they are older and their frames are more fragile then the newer instruments. The Yamaha xylophone does not need to be broken down; however the bars should be removed and wrapped up. Crotales should be moved in their cases. Glockenspiels must be in their cases. The vibraphones need not be broken down, but the bars should be covered with either an instrument cover or blanket and the pedal should be rasied and locked. 

Cymbals: Cymbals should be placed into cymbal bags when moved. 

Accessories: Accessory instruments can either be carried with the player, or placed into a case or box. 

Personal equipment: If you are bringing a personal snare drum or other instrument, you must provide your own case or bag. 

Instrument Rentals

If an instrument is needed that the school does not own, it is responsibility of the student playing that part to identify the need well before the first rehearsal and alert Sam Solomon via email. 

Percussion Ensemble

Scheduled weekly rehearsals are:

  • Monday, 7-9 pm
  • Wednesday, 7-9 pm
  • Saturday, 11-1 pm 

Concerts are:

Friday, October 4, 2013 at 8 p.m.
dress 2-6pm

Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 8 p.m.
dress 1-5pm

Both concerts will be held in the Boston Conservatory Theater.

Percussion ensemble rehearsals will start at the listed time. You are expected to show up early to collect and set up all instruments, trap tables, sticks, mallets, bows, music stands, etc. and be ready to start the rehearsal on time. If you have little time to come from another class or a meal, plan on setting up earlier in the day or the night before.

Percussion Seminar

Percussion seminar meets Saturdays between 12 and 3 pm. Specific times will be posted on the Percussion Seminar schedule. Each semester these times will contain department performance classes and classes by faculty and visiting artists. Of our department performance classes, two will be solo performance classes and two will be excerpt performance classes. Percussion students are expected to perform twice (on one of each). 

Attendance at Percussion Seminar is mandatory for all percussion majors. You are allowed three excused absences per semester. Such absences must be cleared with Sam by email at least one week prior to the class. If you may tell another faculty member out of courtesy, but you must inform Sam and it must be via email. Each absence beyond the three will result in a drop in grade. Unexcused absences or lateness will result in a drop in grade. Very occasionally we will have classes at times other than the Saturday slot; excused absences from these will not count toward your three; unexcused absences will be treated the same as always. Percussion Seminar events are optional for marimba majors; marimbists may sign up to play at performance classes if they wish.


Juries are held at the end of each semester. Jury repertoire will be decided upon with your individual teachers. It is expected that you play something representative of your work with each of your teachers (approximately one minute of music for every one lesson taken from that teacher).


Seniors and 2nd Year Masters students are required to perform a solo recital of about an hour in length. Juniors are required to do either a solo recital or a joint recital with another person (percussionist or any other instrumentalist). Non-required recitals may be performed with your teachers' approval; for underclassmen, non-required recitals must be joint recitals. Please hold your recital in a month other than April if you can. Attendance at percussion and marimba recitals is REQUIRED for all percussion and marimba majors.

Percussionists are allowed to use the large ensemble space in the 1260 building for recitals. This is obviously preferable for reasons of space, availability for rehearsals, and proximity to our instruments. All percussion recitals are strongly encouraged to be in 1260, as it will reduce wear on our instruments and keep instruments available for other goings-on in the 1260 spaces. Required recitals may be held in Seully Hall, Concert Room, 31 Hemenway/Room 401, or Zack Box Theater, but 1260 is greatly preferred. 


Timpani is assigned separately. Timpanists are responsible for themselves.

Percussion is assigned in order (i.e., percussion 1 [Principal], perc 2, perc 3, perc 4...). Principal percussionists are responsible for getting the music for all the percussion parts (not timpani), properly dividing the parts, and distributing them to the other players. The Principal should take the part he or she wants, Player 2 gets second pick, and so on. Principals are responsible for only the pieces for which they are Principal, not the whole concert.

In some cases, specific parts will already be assigned and indicated on the assignment board, in which case each player is responsible for acquiring their own music. Otherwise, the above system should be followed.

Courses at Berklee College of Music

Boston Conservatory students may register for courses at Berklee (if you have room for electives in your schedule) through the ProArts Consortium arrangement between several institutions in Boston. Most all Berklee courses are available to Boston Conservatory students, space permitting. The Berklee Percussion Department alone offers about 90 specialized courses which may be of interest. A list of these can be seen at:

If you have questions about Percussion courses, the Percussion Department Assistant, Terry Wisoff, may be of help. Her office is in the basement of the Uchida Building, 921 Boylston Street.  

The procedure to register for Berklee courses is as follows

  1. Get a ProArts Registration Form (signed by The Boston Conservatory Registrar’s Office and, if possible, also by Nancy).
  2. Get a Berklee course catalogue (or refer to the web page above) to find out the course number and name for completing the Registration Form.
  3. Get Nancy's signature (as your Boston Conservatory Academic Advisor) on the Registration Form.
  4. Take the fully signed form to the Berklee Registrar's Office (Uchida Building, first floor at the back) and see the ProArts Registrar (usually Hannah Williams). She will enroll you in the courses you've selected, space permitting.
  5. Take one copy of the form to The Boston Conservatory Registrar's Office (or you will not get credit for the course from Boston Conservatory).

Be careful that your Berklee class does not interfere with percussion seminars or ensemble rehearsals.  The Boston Conservatory and Berklee have different schedules and the computers do not recognize schedule conflicts between the two schools.  You are responsible for attending all percussion ensemble rehearsals, a class conflict will not count as an excused absence.

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