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Degrees Offered



Your Training

Students at The Boston Conservatory are fortunate to be immersed in a major hub of musical activity. For percussionists, this is complemented by the school’s particularly broad approach to percussion study. Every aspect of percussion training at The Boston Conservatory focuses on you and your professional readiness. You'll learn solo, chamber and orchestral performance techniques while studying with specialists in the full range of percussion instruments.

Percussion degree students typically divide every semester's lessons between two or three members of our renowned faculty and, through the ProArts Consortium, may also take classes in all manners of world percussion, jazz and other contemporary topics. Opportunities abound to gain experience in diverse styles of music, and to structure a program of study which embraces your particular interests.

The Music Division's curriculum includes traditional musical training—private lessons, ensembles, orchestral repertoire, music history, music theory, ear training, sight-singing and piano. Non-traditional training can include classes in Alexander Technique and yoga.


  • Applied Lessons and Recitals
  • Major Ensemble: Instrumental (perc.)
  • Percussion Ensemble (perc.)
  • Chamber Music (perc./mba.)
  • Performance Seminar (perc./mba.)
  • Orchestral Repertoire (perc.)
  • Music Electives
  • Harmony and Counterpoint
  • Piano Class
  • Ear Training
  • Theory & Musicology Electives
  • Music History
  • Improvisation
  • Conducting
  • Liberal Arts Courses
  • Concert and Recital Attendance

Your Teachers

You will work and study with professional artists.

Nancy Zeltsman, Chair
Samuel Z. Solomon, Coordinator of Percussion Studies


For a more detailed curriculum, please click on the degrees listed at the top.

Our Approach

The Boston Conservatory is a small, private conservatory—under 700 students total—with a unique triple focus on music, dance and theater. Our department is typically comprised of 20 to 24 percussion and marimba majors.

Percussion students have numerous performing opportunities including The Boston Conservatory Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble, theater, opera and dance productions and chamber music. Marimbists focus on solos, duos, marimba ensembles and mixed chamber music, as well as expanding and personalizing their repertoire through creating adaptations. 

Students may divide their 14 private lessons each semester between up to three faculty members. The Boston Conservatory is part of the Pro Arts Consortium, an association of six Boston schools that enables cross-registration of elective courses. One of these is the nearby Berklee College of Music at which our students may choose from numerous specialized courses in such areas as jazz improvisation, Afro-Cuban hand-drumming, African drumming and dancing and other world musics.

At The Boston Conservatory, we strive to educate well-versed, well-rounded musicians while recognizing the value of individualism and students’ desires to develop special interests within the enormously diverse field of percussion.

Your Performance Opportunities

The performance opportunities are where we set ourselves apart. The variety of performance opportunities at The Boston Conservatory provides percussion and marimba degree students with invaluable professional experience. In addition, some of our percussionists choose to be involved in numerous community orchestras, such as the Boston Civic Orchestra, New England Philharmonic and Longwood Symphony Orchestra.

Performance opportunities for percussionist include The Boston Conservatory Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble; musical theater, opera, dance and other special productions; and chamber music. Performance opportunities for marimbists include Marimba Ensemble (through the ProArts Consortium), chamber music, “marimba parties” and studio recitals.

Your Future

Past marimba students have embarked on impressive solo careers and won numerous competitions including Young Concert Artists (two different players), Concert Artists Guild, the Houston Symphony Ima Hogg National Young Artist Competition (two different players) and the Belgium International Marimba Competition. One has a Sony/Japan recording contract; one is marimba professor at Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany. Our graduates also teach in percussion programs at the University of Oregon and University of Evansville.

Our students and recent alumni have won percussion positions in the Malaysian Philharmonic, the Portland Symphony (Maine), and Orchestra Iowa. They have freelanced with the New World SymphonyBoston PopsBoston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Lyric Opera, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Nederlands Radio Kamer Philharmonie, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Kansai Philharmonic. Some have been honored by invitations to study and perform at major music festivals including Tanglewood, Aspen and the National Orchestral Institute. Many have freelanced with contemporary music groups and several have begun careers as respected soloists.

Marimba majors and graduates have won numerous competitions, including Young Concert Artists (two different performers), Concert Artists Guild, the Houston Symphony Ima Hogg National Young Artist Competition (two different performers), the Montreal Symphony Standard Life Competition, Belgium International Marimba Competition (first prize), International Marimba Competition in Linz, Austria (2nd prize), 3rd World Marimba Competition in Stuttgart, Germany (3rd prize), the Prix d’ Europe (Québec, Canada), Opus Prize “Discovery of the Year,” 3rd Libertango International Competition (music of Astor Piazzolla), Southern California Marimba Competition (1st prize) and the Percussive Arts Society Marimba Competition (1st prize; 2nd prize—two different performers).

Our graduates have been hired to professorships at the Hochshule für Musik (Detmold, Germany), Concord University (WV) and University of Evansville (IN). Others teach at the high school level including the Harvard University Arts programs, the Westwood Music Prodigy Program and the Winchester Community Music School (all in Massachusetts).  

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