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Percussion Studio

At UCF, studios are where you study with your private teacher for lessons and masterclasses on your specific instrument. It is also where music majors form a community with others studying the same instrument in an environment that encourages learning from and performing with each other. All music majors study with our world-renowned UCF faculty members with weekly lessons and studio masterclasses.

In the UCF Percussion Studio, our philosophy is centered around a “total percussion” learning environment. We treat all instrument areas, genres and expressive outlets with equal relevance and importance. It is our primary goal to prepare students for any musical scenario or opportunity that comes their way.

Upon completing coursework in the Percussion Studio, students at UCF will have strong foundations in all facets of percussion performance and education. This allows students to feel comfortable pursuing performance opportunities behind any instrument or in any genre. Our curriculum model also aids in learning pedagogical strategies that can be incorporated into your own teaching. Regardless of your degree program, students who earn their degree through the Percussion Studio become confident teachers and leaders in our field.

Click here to learn about studying percussion in the Jazz Studio.

The primary performing ensemble within the Percussion Studio is the UCF Percussion Ensemble, which offers students a well-rounded experience in all facets of ensemble playing. The group prides itself on offering students and audiences varied programs that feature significant works for idioms such as chamber, mallet, large, historic and world ensembles. The group frequently collaborates with composers to commission and premiere new works for percussion ensemble. Some of these recent projects have included collaborations with Marc Mellits, Jonathan Kolm, Bill Ryan, D.J. Sparr, Paul Lansky, David Bennet Thomas, Charles Griffin, James Norman, Tiffany Connell and Zack Browning. In 2014, the ensemble was featured at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention's New Literature session and in 2017 performed a featured collaborative concert as part of the International Clarinet Association conference. The debut UCF Percussion album, titled Patterns, was released in 2014 and features quartets for two marimbas and two vibraphones.

Percussion majors also perform with large ensembles, such as the Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, and Symphonic Band. The New Music Ensemble, “Black Steel” steel band, as well as jazz combos and big bands are also performing ensembles that percussionists take advantage of. The Percussion Studio has a rich tradition of having members perform with the Marching Knights, UCF’s marching band.

With three faculty members who teach within the Percussion Studio, we offer students a wide breadth of knowledge, experience and perspective in all facets of percussion and music studies. In addition to the opportunity to study with all three faculty members, we offer a comprehensive applied percussion curriculum that builds proficiency in Snare Drum & Multi-Percussion, Timpani & Orchestral Percussion, Keyboard Percussion, Jazz Comping & Improvisation, as well as Drum Set & World Percussion.

While we have a unified philosophy, with multiple faculty members in the Percussion Studio, we offer students multiple approaches and teaching styles. This is an advantage for our students. One element that is unified in our approach is the empowerment of the student voice. It is important to us that students are comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions on musical approaches or strategies. We encourage thinking outside the box but to also understand the history and tradition of our field. Our curriculum approach helps student learn and understand best practices when it comes to pedagogy and their own teaching.

Many of our students continue directly into graduate studies in Percussion Performance. Upon graduation, students have continued studies at Indiana University, Peabody Conservatory, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, University of North Texas, University of South Carolina, University of Texas, Florida State University and the University of Iowa to name a few.

Several graduates are currently public-school music teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Graduates have also taken college teaching positions in percussion and are currently at institutions that include Furman University, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Northwestern State University, Benedict College, Adams State University, Eastern Florida State College and Seminole State College.

Many of our graduates have continued with orchestral careers winning positions with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, The United States Army Field Band and various substitute roles around the country.

Alumni Highlights

Angel Briseño
M.A. | Percussion
Performer, “Kitchen Beat,” Tokyo Disneyland; Director of Percussion, Juan Seguin High School, TX

Brandon Tolmach ’02
B.A., Music | Percussion

Brian Baldauff ’05
BME | Percussion
Assistant Professor of Percussion, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Christina Torrez ’12
BME | Percussion
Associate Band Director, Freedom High School

Christopher Burns ’07
BME | Percussion
MME, Boston University ’12; Music Teacher, Lakeview Elementary School

Jason Herold ’99
B.M., Music Performance | Percussion
Full-time performer, Walt Disney World Resorts, “JAMMitors,” “Village Beatniks”

Josh Brink ’11
BME | Percussion
School Music Director, Trinity Lutheran Schools

Luis Rivera ’07
BME | Percussion
Director of Percussion Studies, University of South Alabama

Mark Cole ’95
B.M., Music Performance | Percussion
M.M., Conducting, FSU; Former Assocaite Conductor, United States Navy Band; Director of Athletic Bands and Coordinator of Music Education, Gardner-Webb University

Matt Roberts ’12
B.M., Music Performance | Percussion
Master’s Degree, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Melinda Leoce ’10
BME | Percussion
Visiting Instructor of Percussion and Director of Athletic Bands, Graceland University, Lamoni, IA

Nicholas Guiliano ’10
BME; B.M., Music Performance | Percussion
Adjunct Instructor of Percussion, Texas Woman’s University; Pursing DMA, University of North Texas

Thad Anderson ’04
BME | Percussion
Faculty, University of Central Florida

Todd Leighton ’99
BME | Percussion
Director of Percussion, Tarpon Springs High School