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Nancy Zeltsman, Chair


Percussion Performance


  • Undergraduate music performance students may apply in their junior year for admission into the dual degree program to earn a Master of Music in Music Education.
  • Graduate students may apply for the 3-year Alexander Technique Teaching Certification.

"The percussion/marimba program here is one-of-a-kind: its unique blend of diverse teachers is unparalleled. This well-rounded training means that I can pursue any musical path at the highest caliber possible." —Brandon Ilaw (B.M. '14, Percussion)

Marimba Performance

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.

Your Department

Average number of undergraduate percussion students: 12

Average number of graduate percussion students: 13

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.

On Campus

  • The Boston Conservatory Chamber Orchestra
  • The Boston Conservatory Orchestra
  • The Boston Conservatory Percussion Ensemble
  • The Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble
  • Chamber Ensembles
  • Contemporary and new music ensembles
  • Marimba studio classes
  • Masterclasses with visiting artists
  • On-campus concerts
  • Pit orchestras for opera, dance and theater productions
  • ProArts Consortium opportunities, including the Berklee Marimba Ensemble
  • Solo and studio recitals
  • Student and faculty composer collaborations

Off Campus

  • Community outreach programs servicing the Greater Boston area
  • Opportunities to collaborate and perform with local music ensembles, including Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Boston Civic Symphony, New England Philharmonic and Longwood Symphony Orchestra
  • Paid gig opportunities arranged through our Student Services Office

Your Future

Our graduates are finding success throughout the world as soloists, members of renowned ensembles and music educators and have also received recognition at prestigious competitions all over the world.


  • Boston Modern Orchestra Project
  • Boston Pops Orchestra
  • Kansai Philharmonic
  • Malaysian Philharmonic
  • New World Symphony
  • Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra


  • Belgium International Marimba Competition
  • Concert Artists Guild (New York)
  • Houston Symphony Ima Hogg National Young Artist Competition
  • International Marimba Competition (Linz, Austria)
  • Libertango International Music Competition (ItalyMusic of Piazzolla)
  • Montreal Symphony Standard Life Competition
  • Percussive Arts Society Marimba Competition
  • Prix d'Europe (Québec, Canada)
  • Southern California Marimba Competition
  • World Marimba Competition (Stuttgart, Germany)
  • Young Concert Artists Competition (New York)

Faculty Appointments

  • Berklee College of Music (Massachusetts)
  • Hochshule für Musik (Detmold, Germany)
  • James Madison University (Virginia)
  • University of Evansville (Indiana)
  • University of Oregon
  • Winchester Community Music School (Massachusetts)
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