10. Boston Conservatory – Boston, MA
Notable Faculty: Nancy Zeltsman, Samuel Z. Solomon
One of the most renowned solo marimba musicians in the entire world, Nancy Zeltsman leads a young and impressive faculty of master percussionists at the Boston Conservatory. Zeltsman is the founder of a highly attended music festival known as ZMF (Zeltsman Marimba Festival), a traveling festival that, for two weeks, provides students the opportunity to perform, participate in masterclasses, and take lessons.
A widely regarded percussionist who is the author of the definitive text How to Write for PERCUSSION, Solomon is a contemporary classical music freelancer, pedagogue, and guru. Other faculty members include Kyle Brightwell, who is a percussionist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Students are given thorough training in both traditional styles as well contemporary styles at this excellent school.
Check Out the College’s Faculty
Perhaps more geared for composers, Samuel Z. Solomon’s highly acclaimed How to Write for Percussion is an excellent overall book on percussion technique:
Faculty member Nancy Zeltsman and her solo album Sweet Song:
9. Eastman School of Music – Rochester, NY
Notable Faculty: Michael Burritt
Only the third percussion teacher in the entire history of the Eastman School of Music, Michael Burritt is one of the world’s most sought-after percussion soloists. Appointed to the position at Eastman in 2008, he was previously a faculty member at Northwestern University for 13 years. Previous students of Michael Burritt have gone on to wildly eclectic careers in the percussion industry: one of his students attained the principal percussion position of the San Francisco Symphony, another is on the faculty of the University of Texas Butler School of Music, and another one is a member of the highly acclaimed Third Coast Percussion Quartet. Additionally, Eastman has had a rich history of graduating significant percussionists who have advanced to the top of their fields. Make no mistake, Eastman is one of the most prestigious and competitive percussion programs in the entire world.
More Resources to Check Out
I have not personally read this book, but it seems like an intriguing read into the Eastman School of Music:
8. The Juilliard School – New York, NY
Notable Faculty: Gordon Gottlieb, Daniel Druckman
To study with the most versatile percussionists in the world is often the goal of an aspiring percussion student, as there are many lucrative opportunities for the eclectic drummers, marimbists, timpanists, in the field of classical music and otherwise. Enter Gordon Gottlieb, who has not only soloed with the New York Philharmonic, but has also performed with the likes of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Students of Gottlieb, the very brightest talent in the world of percussion today, get to learn first-hand from an artist legendary in his versatile approach to performance. Expect the greatest young percussionists in the world to attend the Juilliard School’s percussion department.
Listen to the Faculty: Check out Daniel Druckman performing on David Starobin’s recent release New Music With Guitar, Vol. 8
7. Mannes College of Music – New York, NY
Notable Faculty: James Baker, Glen Velez
James Baker leads one of the most accomplished percussion studios in the entire US at the Mannes College of Music. Principal percussionist of the New York City Ballet Orchestra, James Baker is equally adept at world and popular percussion styles, having performed with the likes of Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Carly Simon, and Aretha Franklin. Baker is also an active composer, and has written numerous for percussion as well as other instrumental forces. Other notable faculty members in Glen Velez, who is a Grammy winning percussionist.
Students at Mannes are afforded so many opportunities at the school to refine and craft their percussion expertise. In addition to the New York Times (positively) reviewed Mannes Percussion Ensemble, the school also boasts an orchestral ensemble and an opera company directed by Joseph Colaneri.
Listen to the Faculty: Check out Glen Velez performing “Chakra” music, a type of music heavily based on calming, therapeutic sounds, principles of meditation, and introspective thought.