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Percussion at GVSU

The Grand Valley State University Percussion Program is devoted to meeting the demands of today's percussionists, from traditional orchestral playing to various ethnic interests, to the most innovative contemporary techniques of chamber performance including computers and live electronic music.

Unique to GVSU's program is the teacher/student ratio allowing for highly individualized attention, daily interaction, and close monitoring of progress. The percussion faculty itself is a critical resource. Students have the opportunity to observe faculty practicing their craft on a regular basis while exploring the latest developments in percussion performance and literature. Frequent travel to concerts throughout the world keeps professors Secor and Froncek abreast of contemporary performance and disciplinary trends. Years of performing and teaching experiences help encourage a flexible, open approach in which students thrive and prepare for percussion careers in today’s world.

 

Success Factors

In addition to talent, the successful student will benefit from such attributes as academic competency, good training, discipline, dedication, and perseverance.

 

Career Possibilities

GVSU percussion graduates may aspire to be employed as timpanists, percussionists and soloists in major and regional orchestras, opera companies, contemporary chamber groups, armed services bands, and as faculty at all levels of educational institutions. For percussionists who wish to be music educators, a wealth of opportunities exist at primary and secondary teaching levels. The percussion and education programs prepare percussionists for these careers, whether they are interested in more general music education programs or more specific areas such as marching band, college percussion department jobs, and the like.

 

Majoring in Percussion

With an average enrollment of 10 to 16 undergraduate percussion majors participating in eight full-time (and frequent ad hoc) ensembles, performance is the major focus for the GVSU percussion student. Additionally, the robust arts culture in Grand Rapids provides a variety of concert opportunities, potential freelance work, private lesson and/or area marching band teaching positions.

Each student meets in weekly applied lessons and interacts with the other faculty member in the University Percussion Ensemble, GVSU Steel Band, Jazz Ensembles, and master classes/performance classes.

This information is intended as a general guide for students considering enrollment in this program. These online tools are designed to assist you but are not a substitute for planning with an academic or faculty advisor.

 

With seven large instrumental ensembles and many smaller ones, performance is a major focus of all students in the Department of Music. The percussion student may perform in the University Percussion Ensemble, Steelband, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, GVSU Marching Band, University Orchestra, Studio Jazz Orchestra, or one of many chamber groups.

Individual instruction is based upon a firm musical and technical foundation and is geared to each percussionist's needs and interests, in preparation for the specialized fields of the percussive arts.

GVSU's percussion program is devoted to meeting the varied demands of today's percussionists, from traditional orchestral playing to the most innovative contemporary techniques of chamber performance.

University Percussion Ensemble
The Percussion Ensemble provides percussionists with the opportunity to learn techniques and literature through rehearsal and performance in a chamber setting. The literature is selected from the best available compositions for percussion. The ensemble performs both with and without a conductor. Recent concerts have included such works as: John Cage, Credo in US, The Wonderful Widow of 18 Springs, and Cage and Lou Harrison's Double Music; Christopher Rouse, Ku-Ka-Illimoku and Ogoun Badagris; Minoru Miki, Marimba Spiritual; and Thom Hasenpflug, Bicksa.

 

GVSU Steelband
The GVSU Steelband was formed in January 1997. The group performs in the tradition of the great steelbands of Trinidad but also plays arrangements of soca, calypso, and Latin/jazz tunes, as well as original compositions for this instrumentation. The band performs on campus during the year and there are many opportunities for off-campus and special performances.

 

GVSU Facilities
Our newly-rebuilt university percussion facilities are superb. They include a large studio for Percussion Ensemble and Steelband rehearsals, and individual lessons. Two additional, dedicated percussion practice studios house a 4.6 octave Marimba One, a 4.3 octave Yamaha marimba, two vibraphones, two xylophones, two sets of timpani, our steel drums, and many more instruments, which offer the percussion student a favorable student-to-instrument/practice studio ratio.