Percussion Department

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Scholarships Available?

YES, the IU Jacobs School of Music (JSoM) offers competitive scholarships to new undergraduate and graduate students.  Scholarships are granted based on the live audition and merit (test scores and GPA).  Specific questions regarding the application process can be directed to our Admissions office at:

What are the Specific Audition Requirements?

The IU JSoM Percussion Department requires a pre-screen audition video as part of the audition process. Audition videos can now be submitted via DecisionDesk (in regard to applications for the following school year) by no later than December 1. Information on this process can be found at:  Detailed audition requirements can be found at:   There is no "rolling admissions" within our department.  All determinations for admission will be made following the final (March) audition weekend. 

What instruments will be provided at the live auditions?

The following instruments will be available at the audition:
Set of five Yamaha timpani (Professional hand-hammered, free-floating pedals)
5-octave Yamaha YM5100 Marimba 
5-octave Malletech Marimba
Pearl Philharmonic Snare Drum: 6.5" x 14" (wood shell)
Yamaha 3.5 octave rosewood xylophone
Musser Century 3 octave vibraphone (gold graduated bars)
Drum set: 4 piece with hi hat, crash and ride cymbals, etc.
LP Classic congas 
A sound system (for ipod/iphone/CD playback) will be available.

What happens during the Live Audition Weekends?

Live auditions and interviews will take place in January, February, and March. The Percussion Department will host a luncheon each Friday of each audition weekend at 12:15 pm to meet with all auditioning students and their families.  A brief recital featuring current IU JSoM percussion students will take place right after the luncheon. We hope that you will consider joining us for these events.  All percussion faculty will be there to answer any questions you might have.  

Are Graduate Assistantships Available?

The IU JSoM Percussion Department employs 4 Associate Instructors (AIs) and 1 Graduate Assistant each year.  The Graduate Assistant works with our Percussion Technician in departmental logistics, instrument moves, and instrument repair.  Our AIs teach percussion lessons to non-music majors and one of the AIs teaches a Percussion Techniques course to our music education majors.  Some AIs might also assist the faculty with various ensembles.  Both the AI and GA positions include a monthly stipend and tuition remission (up to a certain number of credit hours) each semester.  More information can be found at:

How many Percussion Faculty are there?

We have 4 World-Renowned Faculty members:

  • John Tafoya, Chair
  • Kevin Bobo
  • Steve Houghton
  • Joe Gramley

Joe Galvin also joined the IU JSoM faculty this fall as a Visiting Lecturer for the Latin American Music Center.

Faculty bios can be found at:

What is the size and student ratio of the Department?

The IU JSoM Percussion Department averages 52-60 percussion majors each year.  This includes all Jazz studies majors, and MM/DM students.  Each faculty member teaches 13-16 students each semester.  The ratio of graduate to undergraduate is generally 2/3 graduate students to 1/3 undergraduate.  With the faculty interacting with all of the students (through lessons and masterclasses) the department enjoys a "family environment".  An initial mentoring program (for all new/incoming students) also helps to include all of our students in a positive social atmosphere at the beginning of each school year. 

How are Studio Assignments handled?

All undergraduate students will study with each of our faculty throughout the 4 year (BM, BME, BSOF) degree.  Jazz Studies majors will study with Professor Steve Houghton and with Professor Spiro and other faculty as needed.  Students do have the opportunity to receive lessons from other faculty during the course of any semester.  This is handled on a case by case basis but offers great flexibility; allowing our students to seek out necessary instruction throughout each semester.  Graduate students (MM, DM, PD) may tailor their area of focus in consultation with the IU JSoM Percussion Department faculty.  Please note that ALL percussion majors study with full-time faculty.

What is the Ensemble Experience like?

The performance opportunities for our students include:

  • Large Ensembles:  Orchestra (there are 5 orchestras), Wind Ensemble (there are 3 wind ensembles), and New Music Ensemble
  • Small/Chamber Ensembles: Percussion Ensemble, Afro-Cuban Folkloric Ensemble, Brazilian Ensemble, and Steel Pan
  • Jazz Ensembles:  Big Band (large ensemble) and Jazz Combos (small ensemble).  Big Band serves as the large ensemble for all Jazz Studies majors.  However, non-jazz studies majors may also audition for a Jazz Combo. 

Please be sure to visit the IU JSoM Percussion Youtube channel at:

Are there other Performance Opportunities?

In addition to the ensemble experience at IU, there are numerous performance opportunities within the area.  This includes professional orchestras in Evansville, Terre Haute, Columbus, Richmond, and Owensboro (KY).  The jazz scene at our local clubs and cafes in Bloomington and Indianapolis offers great performance experiences for our Jazz Studies students as well.

What Facilities are Available?

At the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, the IU JSoM Percussion Department moved  into the new East Studio Building at the corner of Jordan Avenue and 3rd Street.  Faculty and AI studios, along with 15 dedicated percussion practice rooms exist in this new building.  More information on this building can be found at:

What Instruments are Available?

The IU JSoM Percussion Department houses a huge inventory of percussion instruments including:

  • Marimbas - 24 (Yamaha, Kori, Musser, Deagan, Adams, Malletech, Marimba One, DeMorrow)
  • Vibraphones - 15 (Deagan, Yamaha, Musser)
  • Xylophones - 16 (Musser, Yamaha, Deagan, Malletech, Adams)
  • Glockenspiels - 14 (Deagan, Fall Creek, Malletech, Musser, Leedy)
  • Timpani - 19 sets (Yamaha, Light, Yamaha, Ludwig, Ringer, Adams, Hinger, Goodman Chain)
  • Concert Snare Drums - 34 drums (Pearl, Ludwig, Aspen, Grover, Gladstone, Gretsch, Slingerland, Hinger, Rogers, Remo)
  • Concert Toms - 12 sets (Pearl, Yamaha, Ludwig)
  • Drum Sets - 28 sets (Yamaha, Gretsch, Ludwig, Slingerland, Pearl, DW, Remo, Tama)
  • Gongs - 70 various types
  • Crash Cymbals - 45 pairs
  • Suspended Cymbals - 140 of various types
  • Hi-Hats - 30 pairs of various types
  • Bongos - 18 sets (LP, Gon Bop)
  • Congas - 39 drums (LP, Gon Bop, Remo)
  • Timbales - 11 sets (LP, Remo, Ludwig)
  • Steel Drum - Merlin "Mutt" Gill pans with Panyard hardware
  • Afro-Cuban gear - vast amounts of various chekeres, ago-go, bells, blocks, cajons, bata, claves, guiros, shakers, maracas
  • Brazilian gear - surdos, malacachetas, repiniques, caixas, tamborims, pandeiros, chocalhos, cuicas, timbal (Contemporanea, Gope, Remo)
  • Concert Percussion gear - full complement of triangles, woodblocks, temple blocks, tambourines, slapsticks, ratchets, log drums, cowbells, sleigh bells, vibraslaps, wind chimes, sound effects, bass drum beaters, gong beaters, chime mallets, etc...

New students only need to bring mallets, small instruments (triangles, tambourines, snare drum, etc.) and a snare drum stand.  The IU JSoM Percussion Department employs a full-time Percussion Technician who maintains our inventory and coordinates all logistical needs for the department.  Our instruments are always kept in the best condition possible.

More information on our instruments can be found at:

Is PAS and PASIC located in Indianapolis?

Yes, the offices for PAS and Rhythm Discovery Museum are located in Indianapolis, Indiana.  PASIC (Percussive Arts Society's International Convention) also takes place often in Indianapolis. 

More Questions?

Please feel free to contact Professor John Tafoya, Chair, at