Percussion Department Chair

  • Prof. Joe Nero

Percussion Department Faculty

Students: 30+ majors from nine different states across the U.S. Students must first audition and be accepted into the School of Music as a Drumset or Percussion major before they are accepted into the University. On average, one out of four applicants who audition are accepted.

Playing Opportunities: The School of Music offers more than 50 different large and small music ensembles, more than 35 of which have percussion in their instrumentation. These include three big bands, a 10-piece fusion ensemble, 15 small jazz groups performing traditional and contemporary jazz (from Miles Davis and Charles Mingus to the Yellowjackets and the Brecker Brothers), a Rock Ens., Salsa Ensemble, Drumset Ensemble, Traditional Percussion Ensemble, Brazilian Jazz Ensemble, Afro-Caribbean Percussion Ensemble, a Mallet Ensemble, a Bucket Drum Ensemble (known as Rumble), World Music Ensemble, a Musical Theater Ensemble, Inter-disciplinary Ensemble, Chorus, Jazz Singers and Chamber Singers.

Location: The University of the Arts is located in the heart of downtown Philadelphia on the “Avenue of the Arts,” next door to both the Academy of Music and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. There are 19 professional concert halls, jazz clubs, music clubs and theaters all within four blocks of school that present more than 80 professional concerts, recitals and music performances each week.

Equipment: The School of Music owns 22 professional Yamaha drumsets for student use. There are two drumset teaching rooms complete with audio/video systems with large wall-mounted speakers, plasma screens, dual drumsets, and a collection of more than 100 drum study texts and CDs, and DVDs. In addition, UArts has the first and only electronic drumset lab in a university in the U.S., with six Yamaha digital drumkits. There is also a wide array of timpani, mallet percussion, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, hand percussion and traditional percussion instruments.

Teaching Materials: At the beginning of every school year, each Drumset major receives a book of approximately 30 to 40 pages of original study materials that have been created by our faculty. These cover technique, exercises, independence, musical/playing styles, improvisational development, drum musicianship and sight-reading. Each student also receives copies of CDs containing recordings of original play-along songs, feels and styles that cover a wide range of tempos and feels in jazz, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, funk and big band.

Program/Curriculum: Students take weekly one-hour private lessons on drumset, percussion, or hand drums with faculty for all four years they are enrolled. Students are encouraged to study Latin percussion, mallets and tympani, but they can focus just on drumset, percussion, vibes, or hand-drums if they so choose. Freshman also receive a year of drum class that covers styles and improvisation. All drum/percussion majors attend eight drum workshops each year on special topics such as styles, tuning, drum history, etc.

Guest Artists/Clinicians: The following is a partial list of the drummers and percussionists that have given clinics and performances at UArts: Dave Weckl, Dave Garibaldi, Jack DeJohnette, Chester Thompson, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Ignacio Berroa, Brian Blade, Carl Allen, Dennis Chambers, Peter Erskine, Dom Famularo, Steve Smith, Gregg Field, Giovanni Hidalgo, Harold Jones, Bill Stewart, Adam Nussbaum, Marcus Baylor, Dr. Bruce Klauber, Max Roach, Gerry Brown (who is also a graduate), Adam Cruz, Duduka DaFonseca, Tony Verderosa, Anton Fig, Doc Gibbs, Horacio Hernandez, Dave Samuels, Robby Ameen, Airto Moreira, Steve Houghton, John Riley, Danny Gottlieb and T.S. Monk.