Iowa State University Percussion Studio


Directed by Dr. Jonathan Sharp


Percussion Group

The Percussion Studies Program at Iowa State University is designed with a comprehensive approach to the study and performance of literature in all styles and idioms of music. The goal of the percussion curriculum is to develop multi-faceted percussionists who advance percussion performance, education, research, and appreciation. The Percussion Studies Program provides professional-level experiences and opportunities for all students that foster growth through self-discipline, creativity, and entrepreneurship. Successful students will embrace these challenges as they develop a passion for life-long learning that will lead to a rewarding career.

As they develop a strong passion and appreciation for the percussive arts, many of our students are recognized by national and international awards through their participation in competitions and summer programs. A large number of our graduates pursue graduate degrees at the nation's top music schools and our alumni are employed as K-12 educators and in-demand freelance percussionists.


The ISU Percussion Program Offers

  • Dynamic and diverse learning experiences in private lesson, chamber group, and master class settings.
  • A comprehensive approach to the study and performance of percussion in a variety of styles and genres including orchestral, solo, chamber, Jazz and non-western percussion.
  • Frequent performance opportunities both on- and off-campus.
  • An emphasis on contemporary chamber music with our renowned Percussion Ensemble, frequently premiering new works from leading composers around the world.
  • A dynamic studio class focused on honing performance skills and enhancing critical listening.
  • Frequent masterclasses and guest artists to broaden musical experiences and awareness.

ISU Percussion Ensemble

The Iowa State University Percussion Ensemble maintains a very active performance schedule, giving between 4-6 performances a season. The ensemble takes advantage of the full stylistic and sonic breadth that the relatively young medium of percussion chamber music provokes, performing music that ranges from classics by composers such as John Cage and Iannis Xenakis, to collaborators with renown composers on new repertoire.

Additional courses offered in the percussion studio include Percussion Methods (for music education majors), Percussion Pedagogy, Cyclone Percussion Group, and Percussion Literature.

Recent Guest Artists

  • Ronni Kot Wenzell
  • Mark Ford, marima
  • Omaha Percussion Ensemble
  • Lynn Vartan
  • Jon Weber
  • Jeffrey Moore
  • Clocks in Motion, percussion group

Additional Information

Auditions for acceptance into the School of Music and Percussion Studio and for scholarship money occur in February. Please look carefully on the Department of Music website for important dates and deadlines.

To be accepted into the Percussion Studio you should be prepared to perform the following:

  • Required:
  • Concert snare drum solo/etude — You may be asked to play a variety of PAS Rudiments in addition to your prepared material.
  • Mallet Keyboard Solo (preferably four-mallet marimba, but two-mallet is acceptable) — You will be asked to play major scales (two octaves) in addition to your prepared material.
  • Timpani Solo/etude — You will be asked to match pitch (sing pitches) in addition to your prepared material.
  • Sight-reading will be asked on concert snare drum and two-mallet keyboard.
  • Optional:You may also include materials from the following areas:
  • Rudimental Style snare solo/etude
  • Drum Set (variety of styles — jazz, Latin, funk, rock)

Please contact Dr. Jonathan Sharp with any studio audition questions:

Large ensemble auditions for Percussion Majors (Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Symphonic Orchestra) are held at the beginning of fall semester and sometimes in the spring semester, a sign up sheet will be posted the week before in RM. 124 in Music Hall. Audition music will be distributed by the directors of the large ensembles, or electronically on the Concert Band webpage.