Reviews Listen
Compositions Events
Discography CalArts
Solo Concerts Links
Dark Wing Store
PARTCH Contact


The California Institute of the Arts percussion program has approximately 25 students.  That includes 10 jazz drum set majors, 8 – 10 percussion majors who specialize in mallet keyboard percussion, multiple percussion, percussion ensemble and approximately 5 world music majors who specialize in North Indian tabla performance, African music or Indonesian Gamelan.

The CALArts Percussion Ensemble

In the percussion performance program, students study mallet keyboard playing, snare drum, timpani, and multiple-percussion.  We have a weekly workshop, which features guest artists from outside of the CalArts community, as well as workshops given by the students on special topics of their choosing or open coaching sessions on works in progress leading up to mid-residency and residency recitals.  The percussion ensemble meets for 3 hours per week in preparation for an end of the semester concert or special performance in Los Angeles.  The World Percussion Ensemble also meets for 3 hours per week.

Students are encouraged to pursue their own personal visions of performance style and career.  The emphasis in our program is on new work either from the existing percussion repertoire or new work created by other students at CalArts.  Percussion students are encouraged to compose and improvise as well as work with composers both past and present. 

CalArts Percussion Faculty
The CALArts Percussion Ensemble

In the first two years of undergraduate training, students spend much of their practice time developing core techniques on snare drum, mallet keyboard and timpani.  We primarily use the method books of Mitchell Peters for snare drum, Saul Goodman and Raynor Carrol for timpani and a variety of methods for mallet playing drawn from the Morris Goldenberg book on mallet fundamentals, Bach Inventions, Bartok Violin duets, the Nancy Zeltzman collections and other solo and ensemble projects.   Students are encouraged to practice technique with the goal of not only developing accuracy and scale knowledge but also in developing theoretical knowledge of chords and modes.  The percussion students also take the Perspectives in Hand Drumming course and are encouraged to participate in the world music percussion program.

Graduate students are encouraged to continue developing technique but are expected to be playing and interpreting music at a professional level and learning to think like composers and improvisers as well as interpreters of the percussion repertoire.


Swapan Chaudhuri –tabla

Randy Gloss – tabla, riq, pandiero, cajon, frame drum and co-director of the World Percussion Ensemble.

Andrew Grueschow – African music

David Johnson – Mallet keyboards, classical snare drum, timpani, multiple percussion, vibraphone and marimba improvisation

Amy Knoles – electronic percussion and multi-percussion

Alfred Ladzekpo
– African music

Joe LaBarbera – jazz drumming

Houman Pourmehdi - Persian percussion and co-director of the World Percussion Ensemble

Nyoman Wenten
– Indonesian gamelan

Aaron Serfaty - latin percussion and drumset 

Click here to see a video of the CalArts Percussion Ensemble playing at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Austin Texas in 2008


back to top