Boston Conservatory at Berklee


Percussion / Marimba

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Boston Conservatory, the first music conservatory founded in the United States in 1867, forged a forward-thinking spirit early on by promoting women and African American musicians. Recently, it took the exciting step to merge with Berklee. About 820 students are enrolled in its Music, Dance and Theater 
degree programs who contribute to about 700 events each year. 

Nancy Zeltsman, marimba | Head of Percussion
Samuel Z. Solomon, percussion
Doug Perkins, percussion
Kyle Brightwell, percussion

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Our teaching approach recognizes the breadth of the field of percussion. We strive to educate well-versed, well-rounded musicians, while understanding the value of individualism and students' desires to develop special interests. Students will have a primary teacher and may also study with any/all percussion faculty each semester. 

There are 25 to 30 students enrolled in the department each year: about half undergraduates and half graduates. All students work side by side frequently, and are a cooperative, supportive, close-knit group! Our graduates go on to varied careers as versatile freelancers, chamber ensemble performers and directors, orchestral musicians, solo recitalists, theater musicians, high school teachers, and college professors.

Percussion majors have numerous performance opportunities including the Boston Conservatory Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Percussion Ensemble (co-directed by Solomon, Perkins and/or Brightwell). They may also perform in opera and theater productions, chamber music, composers concerts, and studio and solo recitals.

Graduate-level percussion majors may apply to either the general program (including opportunities described above) or the Contemporary Classical Music program. Either way, there are numerous opportunities to work with composers and be involved in contemporary music. (Our large composition department premieres about 250 new works annually!)

Marimba majors (at the graduate level) focus on solo and mixed chamber music, and Marimba Ensemble (at the College), and may opt to play in Percussion Ensemble. They may take all lessons on marimba, or some on percussion instruments too.

Conservatory students may elect to take percussion courses at Berklee College of Music focused on jazz improvisation on mallet instruments, Afro-Cuban hand drumming, World Percussion, Brazilian music, African dancing and drumming, various styles of drum set, and much more. Many other College courses are available to Conservatory students including these ten Minors.

We dont offer teaching assistantships; all students are taught by faculty. (There may be some teaching assistantships for graduate students in Music Theory or Music History.) Work study positions are available on campus such as concert services (setting up chairs for rehearsals and concerts), audio/visual recording, and in various offices. Two or three percussion department assistants are selected each year. 

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Admission to Berklee College of Music or Boston Conservatory at Berklee require separate applications and auditions. Here are some distinctions:
Distinguishing Between Our Music Programs
- More distinctions between music programs (available soon)

Important links:
Music Audition Requirements
Financial Aid
Thrive scholarship (for continuing students)

Upcoming Percussion Events - Boston

2019 Music Division video

Ways to refer to Boston Conservatory at Berklee:
- “the Conservatory”
- “BCB” (in some written documents)
- “BoCo” (informally)

A very exciting percussion movement is happening here!! Congrats! 
- Colin Currie

Faculty photo, L to R: Doug, Nancy, Sam & Kyle in 2015
3rd photo: Daniel Pooley in the pit of a theater production
4th photo: Reich - Music for 18 Musicians performance at Berklee Performance Center, Feb. 2019

Nancy Zeltsman 2019 |