Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will I have to play drumset for my audition if I major in Classical Percussion?

A. No. We do not require drumset on the audition.


Q. Will I have the opportunity to practice or warmup before the audition?

A. Sure! We have several practice rooms where you can warmup. Just come to the percussion room (Room 107) where you will find a percussionist who will let you in to one of them where you can practice.


Q. What qualities are you looking for in a student who auditions?

A. I am looking for musicianship, talent and potential. I am looking for a student who is committed and dedicated to his or her instrument. I don't expect to hear students who are ready for the New York Philharmonic but I do evaluate their potential for a career as a professional. A student with potential that has some weaknesses can still be accepted. I suggest to all auditioning students to take piano lessons. There is so much to learn from a knowledge of the keyboard; it will help you to sightread, to analyze music, to understand phrasing and harmony, and help your general musicianship. Singing in choir (church or school) can also help.


Q. What kind of timpani will I audition on?

A. We have timpani with a balanced action pedal (Ludwig), a set of Dresden style Yamahas and a set of Premiers. We do have a timpani stool for you to use. You are welcome to use whichever set feels most comfortable for you. However, if you have chosen a piece that requires the sticks be played with the wooden end (such as the Carter Saeta, the Firth Etude No.1, or the Goodman Ballad for the Dance) please note that I will ask you to play with the normal end of the sticks so as not to damage the heads. I am also more interested in hearing your sound on timpani, and it is more difficult to tell how you sound when you play with the wood end.


Q. What kind of marimba will I use for my audition?

A. You can audition on a Yamaha 5 octave, Marimba One 5 octave or a 4 1/2 octave Yamaha or Adams instrument.


Q. What is the focus of the percussion department at UNCP?

A. I teach orchestral as well as general percussion. I think it is important to get a well rounded percussion education at the undergraduate level. The time to specialize in timpani or marimba is when you go to grad-school. However, I use orchestral and solo repertoire to teach the basics and let students work with more diligence on whichever instrument they have an affinity for. Students pick their own direction, although I do stress a well-rounded and balanced percussion education. We stress a well-rounded education for our drumset majors also, with these students having additional studies on keyboards and timpani with Dr. Van Hassel or Ms. Nelson.


Q. Are there many opportunities to study jazz vibes and world percussion while at UNCP?

A. Certainly! There is a jazz department that features jazz band, fusion ensemble and jazz combos. There is also a world percussion ensemble which studies works that are in other world styles, ranging from taiko drumming to arabic frame drumming. In addition students can major in drumset with Todd Proctor as their principal teacher.


Q. In general, what type of repertoire do your students study?

A. I generally do only music written for marimba (except Bach and works chosen to study specific musical periods) and serious music for percussion ensemble. We don't do arrangements of pop tunes and that sort of thing. The books I use for lessons include:

Snare Drum:

  • Peters- Intermediate SD
  • Delecluse
  • Douze Etudes
  • plus my own exercises


  • Carroll Method
  • Friese/Lepak Method and my own exercises
  • Orchestral repertoire


  • Stevens Book
  • Green Exercises
  • my own exercises for 2 and 4 mallets
  • Musser etudes
  • Bach Sonatas and Partitas
  • Cello Suites
  • other pieces including Japanese marimba pieces as well as works by American composers such as Thomas, Druckman and Schwantner for the advanced students

I also include orchestral repertoire as an important ingredient in the development of the well-rounded percussionist. One learns touch, style and refinement of basic techniques such as rolls and ruffs by working on this repertoire. At the same time, one develops a love for the music.


Q. What kind of performing opportunities are available at UNCP? Can I expect to play in major ensembles as a freshman?

A. I assign all parts for the major ensembles including Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble so there is no negative competition for parts. Since we only have 12- 14 percussion majors at any one time we need everyone to play. I can guarantee you will be playing in these ensembles in your first year, right next to seniors from whom you will gain much experience. I use the ensembles as an extension of lessons. I will not assign a student to a part if I do not think he or she is prepared play it successfully, but if they are ready for a part I will give it to them, even if they are a freshman. At UNCP you have the opportunity from the very beginning to put into practice what you practice. In addition, our students often substitute with the Florence Symphony, Carolina Philharmonic, and Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra as well as performing with the Lee County Community Orchestra.


Q. Are there scholarships available for percussionists?

A. Yes. Scholarships as well as performance stipends for the various ensembles are available.


Q. What pieces have been played in percussion ensemble in recent years?


  • Steve Reich - Drumming
  • Steve Reich - Music for Pieces of Wood
  • Matthew Briggs - Marimba Quartet (mvmt. II)
  • Miki - Marimba Spiritual
  • Crumb - An Idyll for the Misbegotten
  • Zivkovic - Trio Per Uno
  • May - Musique de Table
  • John Cage - Second and Third Constructions
  • David Maslanka - Crown of Thorns

Q. How many students are in the studio?

A. I try to keep 3 in each class for a total of 12.


Q. How does the percussion studio get along?

A. Percussion students by nature tend to get along very well, probably due to the amount of time they spend together in various groups. The studio here is no different. Students will have meals together, work together in the practice rooms, and even road trip to see concerts.


Q. How many practice rooms for the percussionists are there?

A. We have 4 practice rooms that are exclusively for percussion. In addition we have the percussion studio and percussion majors have extended access to instruments in the band room.


Q. What type of equipment does the school have?

A. We have 2 5 oct. marimbas (a Marimba One and a Yamaha), 1 4.5 octave Adams marimba, 1 4.5 octave Yamaha marimba, 1 4.3 octave Musser marimba, 1 3.5 octave Deagan marimba, 1 4 oct Deagan marimba, set of Premier timpani, 2 sets of Ludwig timpani, a set of Yamaha Dresden style timpani, several snare drums and tom-toms, 4 sets of vibes, 2 sets of chimes, 3 xylophones, cymbals, woodblocks, tambourines, bongos, congas and all the accessories any percussion piece would require.


Q. If I do come to UNCP what would my first year course-load look like?

A. You would take percussion lessons, percussion ensemble, large ensemble (band or orchestra), marching band, music theory, aural skills and gen ed.


Q.Do you accept transfer students?

A. Yes


Q. What do UNCP percussion students do when they graduate?

A. Former UNCP students are active as both performers and teachers areound the US. See this page for a listing of positions held by former UNCP students.