BoCo Percussion Handbook


Communication from faculty will happen primarily via email. Please check email EVERY day. If there is an issue about space, instruments, schedule, etc., email communication is the best way to ensure everyone is in the loop and that there is a record of the correspondence for future reference. Please respond to requests from faculty and colleagues in a timely manner. (This is part of developing professionalism!)

Also, please be thoughtful when hitting “reply all.” Not every correspondence should go to everyone in the department.


Your school experience gives you an opportunity to practice and exercise your skills of acting like a professional. The impressions you make in the professional world have an enormous impact on your success, and you lay the groundwork for these impressions here at school. This includes:

• showing up early to rehearsals

• making sure you are set up, have the correct instruments, beaters, music, etc.

• being prepared (knowing your part and knowing the piece)

• listening to and applying conductor, composer, or coach’s comments

• being sober and focused during rehearsals, classes, lessons, and performances

• being respectful to your colleagues, teachers, conductors, stage crew, librarians, etc.

• being a supportive member of the community

In many cases, these skills are MORE IMPORTANT than having a great sounding roll or hitting all the right notes.


At Boston Conservatory at Berklee students may study with one or two teachers per semester. Students may switch their teachers from year to year and even semester to semester, but it is recommended they do so in consultation with the faculty. First-year B.M. students are encouraged to study with one teacher for each semester.

Lessons will be scheduled by individual teachers. You are responsible for signing out rooms for your lessons. It is advised you sign out rooms for lessons for the whole semester once you receive your schedule.

Practice Facilities

We have eight rooms in the 132 Ipswich building—Rooms 111, 110, 109, 108, 107, 310, 309, and 308. We will have limited dedicated use of Ipswich room 104 as well (most weekends, and some weekday evenings). Other rooms at Ipswich, including the large space (Room 106), may be used for personal practice when available. The building hours for 132 Ipswich are: 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. There is a marimba and a vibraphone in 31 Hemenway, T-401. Marimba majors may contact Ryland Bennett to reserve practice or rehearsal times in T-401. (You are on the honor system to reduce your practice hours at Ipswich accordingly on days you reserve time in T-401). Hours at 31 Hemenway are 6:00 am to 2:00 am (except it closes at 12:00 am during Winter Break).

Practice times for Ipswich rooms may be signed out starting at 10:30pm the night before via a shared Google sheet.  Instructions for accessing the sheet and calendar will be emailed to you by the Department Assistants.

All marimba and percussion majors may sign out a total of four hours per day amongst all the rooms and buildings.  Percussion majors may sign out all Ipswich rooms except 110 and 111 for up to two hours a day; rooms 110 and 111 can only be signed out for a maximum of 1.5 hours a day. In addition to your four hours, an un-signed-out room may be claimed two hours (or less) in advance. A marimba duo may sign out Room 111 and borrow the YM marimba from Room 109 a maximum of 2 hours per day. If you are not in a room you signed out within 15 minutes of the time you signed it out for, another student may take the room. If you don’t plan to use are room you’ve reserved, please un-reserve it.

A student two weeks away from their recital or an audition may sign up two days in advance. Lessons, coachings, and rehearsals should be signed out as early as possible so other students may plan their practicing around these times. You may also submit these times to one of the Department Assistants well in advance (even weeks ahead of time) and they will sign them out for you.

Rooms may not be signed out during entrance auditions, seating auditions, or juries. Practice priority will follow the schedule of audition/jury times.

Students will be assigned a space in a locker cabinet for their personal equipment. This is the only space you will be allowed to keep personal equipment. Please limit the amount of music books and small instruments you keep at school to those you use frequently, or might need at a moment’s notice. (Everything else should be kept in your apartment or dorm room.) Nothing may be left on the floors of the percussion rooms or in the hallways. Please make sure to keep lockers tidy and closed at all times! The Conservatory is not responsible for lost belongings (see “Theft,” below).

We are all responsible for keeping all our rooms clean, including the large ensemble space. The Department Assistants will perform weekly cleanings/organization of our Ipswich spaces. During these cleanups, any personal sticks/mallets/etc. that are left around may be placed in a lost and found box. Any other items left around the studio may be thrown out. Please make an effort to clean up after yourself daily: throw away trash, put away instruments after you are done (especially small instruments and hardware), put all sticks and mallets in their bags when not in use, and generally make an effort to keep things tidy. Below is a list (subject to change) of what instruments are to be in which rooms. This list will serve as a default setting for the studio. If you move an instrument into a room where it doesn’t usually live, please return it to its proper home when you are finished with it. Extreme untidiness will result in occasional unannounced blitzkrieg-style purges of the rooms, during which your belongings might get thrown in the trash.

• Room 111: Adams 5.0 Marimba, Adams Vibraphone, some multi setups, drum storage, stands/hardware
• Room 110: Mark XIV Lights, 20″ Light, drumset, some multi setups, cymbal storage
• Room 109: Yamaha 5.0 Marimba, Vibraphone
• Room 108: Marimba One (pink)
• Room 107: Xylophone, Vibraphone, Glock
• Room 310: Multi Setups
• Room 309: Snare Drums, multi-setups
• Room 308: Multi Setups

Treatment of Instruments

As instrumentalists, the way your instruments sound determines the way you sound as a performer. If you abuse your instruments, you will sound bad. Please treat all of our instruments with the same respect you would treat your own belongings. Failure to do so may result in a drop in grade.

DO NOT practice with hard mallets on xylophone. Please always use soft practice mallets as much as possible.

See below for equipment moving guidelines.

Taking Instruments Out of School Facilities

Boston Conservatory instruments are NOT allowed outside of school property except for school events. For the safety of our instruments, we must restrict school instrument use exclusively to school functions; however, if you are in a bind and need an instrument for a gig that you cannot buy, borrow, or rent elsewhere, please ask Sam Solomon. We may be able to make exceptions. Removal of school equipment without permission can result in a drop in grade or more serious punishment.

Personal Instruments

Students may bring personal instruments to school and are encouraged to label each item with their name. Personal snare drums and smaller instruments (tambourines, triangles, etc.) are considered private instruments; please ask before borrowing. Larger instruments, however, are brought to the school only if space permits and with the understanding that they will temporarily become part of the school’s instrument collection and can be used by everyone. The use of personal drumsets, keyboard instruments, and any other large instrument cannot be restricted. We do not have space to accommodate large non-community instruments. Always BE RESPECTFUL of your colleagues’ personal equipment.


If something of yours is missing and you believe it to be stolen, please report the theft to Berklee Security immediately (617-747-2682). They have records of all the keycards that have entered our spaces and have many cameras observing the area. Always report thefts in order to keep you and your belongings safe. If you live nearby, you are encouraged to keep many of your personal belongings in your dorm or apartment to ensure their safety and to keep excessive clutter to a minimum.

In general, be cautious and attentive at Ipswich. There is no security guard, so we must do our best to police the space ourselves. Your storage lockers area and first floor practice rooms are immediately accessible by the public during concerts: a reason to keep things extra tidy and closed up at those times, for the security and protection of your small, personal belongings. Don’t prop doors or leave rooms unlocked.

If you see something, say something! If you think there’s something or someone suspicious, please don’t hesitate to call Security to check it out.

Instruments for Rehearsals and Concerts

Everyone is responsible for their own instruments for rehearsals. You are expected to arrive at least 15-30 minutes early to every rehearsal to set up your instruments, sticks, mallets, trap tables, music, etc. Please be respectful of sectionals or other rehearsals in which you are not involved; try to set up beforehand or very quietly so you do not disturb the rehearsal and so you are ready to start when your rehearsal begins. After rehearsals, you are expected to put all instruments back where they belong to keep the rehearsal space clean and clear of percussion clutter. Following rehearsals, timpani must be covered, and all instruments must be returned to their appropriate spots in practice rooms, cabinets, or behind the black curtain.

Towards the start of the rehearsal cycle for a particular concert, you will receive an email with instructions to fill out a Google sheet with the instrument you wish to use for the rehearsals and concert. Please fill out this information right away.

For the move to the concert, each player is responsible for the equipment they need. The night before the move, you must SAFELY pack up all the equipment you need (see guidelines below) and put it in the designated area. If you do not do this, your instruments might not make it to the performance venue.

After the concert, EVERYONE must stay to pack up the equipment. Once the equipment is delivered back to Ipswich, EVERYONE involved in the concert is responsible for putting away each piece of equipment neatly. Instruments must be reassembled and put away no later than ONE day after the concert. There is a lot of traffic in the hallways, so we need to keep our equipment safe and out of the way. If you play a concert, you are expected to come to Ipswich early the next day to clean up. Failure to do so will result in a drop in grade.

To move instruments for smaller ensemble events occurring at the 8 Fenway building (personal or friends’ recitals, composers concerts, etc.) you must make arrangements with the Concert Manager well before the event. Moving percussion instruments to and from 8 Fenway costs the school hundreds of dollars, so for some non-required events your request to move instruments may be denied. You MAY NOT move instruments yourself without the supervision of the Concert Manager and permission from Sam Solomon.

The 5-octave Marimba One in T-401 will be the primary instrument used for events at 8 Fenway and The Boston Conservatory theater. Students are expected to transport this instrument on their own, rounding up help from other students. Since these instruments are large, everyone is required to help their colleagues with marimba cartage. Please always move the marimba in its cases (stored in the 4th floor back hallway, above lockers).

Instrument Moving Guidelines

Please follow these guidelines when packing equipment for moves:

Hardware: All hardware must be broken down. Make sure any wing nuts are securely fastened so we don’t lose cymbal felts, sleeves, or the nuts themselves.

Timpani: All timpani must be covered. When moving the Lights, be sure to put a pedal lock on each drum.

Drums: All smaller drums (toms, snares, congas, timbales, etc.) should be in cases or wrapped in blankets. Larger drums (e.g. bass drum) should be covered if a blanket is available after the smaller drums have been taken care of.

Keyboards: If you are asked to help breakdown or move a marimba, your answer must be “yes.”  5-octave instruments must be broken down and put in their appropriate cases. 4.3 Octave marimbas should be broken down and put in cases or wrapped in blankets. The two Deagan xylophones should be broken down and wrapped in blankets; they are older and their frames are more fragile than the newer instruments. The Yamaha xylophones do not need to be broken down. Crotales should be moved in their cases. Glockenspiels must be in their cases. The vibraphones do not need to be broken down, but the bars should be covered with either an instrument cover or blanket and the pedal should be raised and locked.

Cymbals: Cymbals should be placed into cymbal bags when moved.

Accessories: Accessory instruments can either be carried with the player, or placed into a case or box.

Personal equipment: If you are bringing a personal snare drum or other instrument, you must provide your own case or bag.

BE MINDFUL when moving instruments with wheels through doorways, and always lift them over the thresholds.

Instrument Rentals

If an instrument is needed that the school does not own, it is responsibility of the student playing that part to identify the need well before the first rehearsal and alert Sam Solomon via email.

Percussion Ensemble

Scheduled weekly rehearsals are:

• Tuesday and Thursday, 7-9 pm

Additional rehearsals may be scheduled on Monday evenings during Percussion Seminar time. Students are often expected to rehearse at other times as well when needed for smaller chamber pieces.

PE Concerts are:

Monday, September 27, 2021 at 8 p.m., Boston Conservatory Theater
dress 4-7pm

Monday, December 6, 2021 at 8 p.m., Ipswich Room 106
dress 5-7:30pm

Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 8 p.m., Ipswich Room 106
dress 5-7:30pm

Thursday, April 22, 2022 at 8 p.m., Ipswich Room 106
dress 5-7:30pm

A detailed percussion ensemble rehearsal schedule will be distributed at the beginning of each cycle. You are expected to show up early to collect and set up all instruments, trap tables, sticks, mallets, bows, music stands, etc. and be ready to start the rehearsal on time. If you have little time to come from another class or a meal, plan on setting up earlier in the day or the night before.

Percussion Seminar

Percussion Seminar meets Mondays from 7 to 9 pm. Some Seminar classes may also meet during percussion ensemble times. Specific dates will be posted on the Percussion Seminar schedule. Each semester, these times will contain department performance classes and classes by faculty and visiting artists. Of our department performance classes, two will be solo performance classes and two will be excerpt performance classes. Enrolled students are expected to perform twice (on one of each).

Attendance and participation in Percussion Seminar is mandatory for those enrolled, but all students are encouraged to attend our guest master classes and clinics.


Juries are held at the end of each semester. Jury repertoire will be decided upon with your individual teachers.

Jury Preparation Guidelines:
What to play:
– Please prepare 8-10 minutes of music [or 10-12’ for CCMP] that represents the scope of your work this semester and/or has been requested by your teacher(s). Please time your pieces or excerpts to be certain of the lengths. For long pieces, you may present an excerpt of the piece.

What to bring:
– Please provide us 2 copies of the program list of music you have prepared to play. Ideally, type the program list (but it can be neatly hand-written). Include approximate timings, so we see how it adds up to 8-10 minutes. Bring 1 jury cover sheet when you enter to play.

– Please also provide copies of the music scores you’ll play, preferably by emailing a link to a Google folder with all the scores in order. If you are bringing hard copies, bring 2 copies — hand these to us in 2 separate piles with scores already arranged in the order you will play your pieces (NOT a pile of 2 copies of everything, in a mixed-up order). If you’re giving us a book, have a marker indicating the page to turn to. For long pieces, you may email us the score.

Please be organized and efficient with your entrance, set-up and exit to help us keep on schedule.


Seniors, 2nd year Masters, GPD, PSC, and Artist Diploma students are required to perform a solo recital of about an hour in length. Juniors are required to do either a solo recital or a joint recital with another person (percussionist or any other instrumentalist). Non-required recitals may be performed with your teachers’ approval; for underclassmen, non-required recitals must be joint recitals. Please schedule your recital in a month other than April if you can.

Attendance at percussion and marimba recitals is REQUIRED for all percussion and marimba majors. All department events will be listed on a doc in the Department Google Drive.

Percussionists are allowed to use the large ensemble space in the Ipswich building for recitals. This is obviously preferable for reasons of space, availability for rehearsals, and proximity to our instruments. All percussion recitals are strongly encouraged to be in Ipswich, as it will reduce wear on our instruments and keep instruments available for other goings-on in the Ipswich spaces. Ipswich is greatly preferred, but required recitals may also be held in 31 Hemenway/Room 401 if the necessary instruments are already available in that space.

Large Ensemble Assignments

Timpani is assigned separately. Timpanists are responsible for themselves.

Percussion is assigned in order (i.e., percussion 1 [Principal], perc 2, perc 3, perc 4…). Principal percussionists are responsible for getting the music for all the percussion parts (not timpani), properly dividing the parts, and distributing them to the other players. The Principal should take the part they want, Player 2 gets second pick, and so on. Principals are responsible for only the pieces for which they are Principal, not the whole concert.

In some cases, specific parts will already be assigned and indicated on the assignment board, in which case each player is responsible for acquiring their own music. Otherwise, the above system should be followed.


To ensure a healthy studio, we need to be careful of how we interact within our small shared spaces. If you are sick, please be thoughtful of others by staying away from them. Exhaling your sickness in a practice room for an hour or two is a pretty sure-fire way to infect the next person who will practice in that room. Sickness can easily travel among members of the department, so please be careful. If you have a fever or are vomiting, STAY HOME! If you have a cough or are sneezing, wear a mask!

Courses at Berklee

Boston Conservatory at Berklee students may register for courses at Berklee (if you have room for electives in your schedule) through Self-Service or by first receiving permission. The Berklee Percussion Department alone offers many courses which may be of interest.

For courses taught by Nancy, contact her for permission to register. For all other courses, send an email to the instructor of the course and to the Chair of the College department of that course (or Nancy, in the case of percussion department courses). Include whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, your student number, the course number, the day/time and building/room it meets. If you have taken courses at the College previously and have a Berklee student number, include it.

For more information on how to register for courses across campuses please visit the Integrated Course Offerings page found here.