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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. Please respond to requests from faculty and colleagues in a timely manner. (This is part of developing professionalism!)

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 which may be split between two or more 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. 

You are responsible for signing out rooms for your lessons. It is advised you sign out rooms for lessons for the whole semester once you receive your schedule.

Practice Facilities

We have eight rooms in the 132 Ipswich building—Rooms 111, 110, 109, 108, 107, 310, 309, and 308—and one room in the 31 Hemenway Theater building—Room 402. We will have limited dedicated use of Ipswich room 104 as well, as specified hours TBA. Other rooms at Ipswich, including the large space (Room 106), may be used for personal practice when available. The building hours for 132 Ipswich are: 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, and for 31 Hemenway are: 6:00 am to 2:00 am (except it closes at 12:00 am during Winter Break).

- Percussion majors have priority over the first floor rooms. 

- Room 309 is shared between percussion and marimba majors. 

- Marimba majors may sign out rooms 111-107, 310, and 308 a maximum of 1 hour per day.

- A marimba duo may sign out Room 110 and borrow the YM marimba from Room 109 a maximum of 2 hours per day. 

- Marimba majors have priority to practice in T-402.  Juniors and Seniors may use 402 a maximum of 1 hour a day.

Practice time in Ipswich rooms may be signed out one day in advance via a shared calendar in Google Drive (instructions for accessing the Google Drive calendar will be emailed to you by the Department Assistants). Marimbists and Nancy share a separate calendar to sign out practice and teaching times in T-402. Each "day" is from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. (So, for example, at 2:00 pm on a Tuesday, you may sign out practice time for any time on Wednesday between 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. But! If it's 2:00 am on Wednesday, you may only sign out remaining times for Wednesday from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm.) 

You may sign out a room for up to two hours, and may sign out a total of four 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. A student who is two weeks away from their recital or an audition may sign up two days in advance. Rooms may not be signed out during entrance auditions, seating auditions, or juries. Practice priority will follow the schedule of audition/jury times.

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.

Students will be assigned a space in a locker cabinet for their personal equipment. This is the only space you will be allowed to keep personal equipment. Please limit the amount of music books and small instruments you keep at school to those you use frequently, or might need at a moment’s notice. (Everything else should be kept in your apartment or dorm room.) Nothing may be left on the floors of the percussion rooms or in the hallways. Please make sure to keep lockers tidy and locked at all times!

We are all responsible for keeping all our rooms clean, including the large ensemble space. The department assistants will perform weekly cleanings/organization of our Ipswich spaces. During these cleanups any personal sticks/mallets/etc. that are left around will be placed in the lost and found box. 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 111: Mark XIV Lights, 20" Light, Yamaha xylophone, 4.3 marimba, Fall Creek glock, Drums storage.
  • Room 110: Yamaha Timpani, Stands/Hardware, Some Multi set-ups, Marimba One (gold)
  • Room 109: Yamaha 5.0 Marimba, Vibraphone
  • Room 108: Xylophone, Vibraphone, Snare Drums
  • Room 107: Multi Setups
  • Room 310: Multi Setups
  • Room 309: Marimba One (pink)
  • Room 308: Multi Setups

Alumni may use our 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 School Facilities

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 that you cannot buy, borrow, or rent elsewhere, please ask Sam Solomon. 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 if space permits and 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. Following rehearsals, cabinets that close must be locked, timpani must be covered, and all other instruments should be lined up against the far wall.

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 Percussion Department Concert Services Liasion (PDCSL). He or she will consolidate these lists and deliver the final list to our Concert Manager for the movers. This list must be in the Concert Manager's hands no later than two weeks before the concert, so please get your lists to the PDCSL promptly. The PDCSL 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 the Concert Manager.

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. 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 Ipswich, 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 hallways, so we need to keep our equipment safe and out of the way. If you play a concert, you are expected to come to Ipswich 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 the Concert Manager and permission from Sam Solomon. 

The 5-octave Marimba One in T402 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. 

BE MINDFUL when moving instruments with wheels through doorways -- always lift them over the threasholds.

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
  • Thursday, 7-9 pm
  • Saturday, 10-12 pm 

Concerts are:

Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 8 p.m., Boston Conservatory Theater
dress 2-6pm

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 8 p.m., Ipswich Room 106

Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 8 p.m., Ipswich Room 106

Friday, March 11, 2016 at 8 p.m., Ipswich Room 106

Friday, April 1, 2016 at 8 p.m., Ipswich Room 106

Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 8 p.m., Boston Conservatory Theater
dress 10-1 and 4-6pm

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 from 12 to 2 pm. Specific dates 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 Ipswich 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 Ipswich, as it will reduce wear on our instruments and keep instruments available for other goings-on in the Ipswich spaces. Required recitals may be held in Seully Hall, Houston Hall, 31 Hemenway/Room 401, or Zack Box Theater, but Ipswich 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.


To ensure a healthy studio, we need to be careful of how we interact within our small shared spaces. If you are sick, please be thoughtful of others by staying away from them. Exhaling your sickness in a practice room for an hour or two is a pretty sure-fire way to infect the next person who will practice in that room. Sickness can easily travel among members of the department, so please be careful!

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.

If you have questions about Percussion courses, the Percussion Department Assistant, Jonathan Ulman, may be of help. His 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. 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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