• Home
  • Academics
  • Brass & Percussion Menu
  • Percussion Studio

Percussion Studio

KU Percussion Group

From Professor Compitello: 

Welcome to Percussion at KU, a vibrant, talented, and supportive community of percussionists.  The KU percussion studio consists of around 20 percussion majors from around the world studying at the undergraduate and graduate level, with interests ranging from contemporary percussion to music education.  KU alumni have distinguished themselves across the country as professional performers and educators.  

All students at KU study with myself, as well has having the opportunity to take drumset and non-Western percussion lessons with Brandon Draper.  

In addition to teaching as part of graduate assistantships, KU percussion studies perform in large and chamber ensembles, jazz combos, and non-Western percussion ensembles on campus My objective as an educator is to inspire and develop passionate fluid, skillful, and critical thinking musicians who will advocate for their artistic passions in myriad ways.  In the 21st century, it is more important than ever that students receiving music degrees are spokespeople for music’s role in society as a whole in addition to just superb performers and inspiring teachers.  I work with my faculty colleagues at KU to help KUPG students be those advocates by giving the tools to play, describe, and understand the musical currents running through contemporary culture. - Michael Compitello 

KU percussion department offers:

  • A comprehensive approach to the study and performance of percussion in a variety of styles and genres including orchestral, solo, chamber, Jazz and non-western percussion under the direction of Michael Compitello.
  • Dynamic and diverse learning experiences in private lesson, chamber group, and master class settings.
  • Frequent performance opportunities both on and off-campus.  
  • An emphasis on contemporary chamber music through KUPG, one of the country’s most renowned percussion ensembles.
  • An African drumming ensemble that performs regularly throughout the region.
  • A dynamic studio class, focused on honing performance skills, enhancing critical listening, and developing  a lexicon within which constructive criticism supports team building and mutual reinforcement

Recent Guest Artists:

  • Robert van Sice: Professor of Percussion, Yale University
  • Tom Freer: Assistant Principal Timpanist/ Section Percussion, The Cleveland Orchestra
  • Chris McLaurin: Principal Percussionist, Kansas City Symphony
  • Will James: Principal Percussionist, St. Louis Symphony
  • Linda Maxey, marimba soloist
  • So Percussion: Internationally renowned percussion quartet
  • New Morse Code: cello/percussion duo

KU Percussion Group

All KU percussion students are members of KU Percussion Group, a chamber percussion ensemble which explores and  performs unconducted chamber music of the rapidly expanding percussion repertoire.  The Group takes advantage of the stylistic and sonic breadth that the relatively young medium of percussion chamber music engenders, performing music that ranges from classics of the percussive canon from composers such as John Cage and Iannis Xenakis, to collaborations with composers on new repertoire.  KUPG members will develop their percussive technique and collaborative musical skills through the study of a diverse array of percussion chamber works and mixed chamber ensemble pieces.  The group is acutely aware of the importance of new creations for our repertoire and seeks to promote openness to the performance of new compositions. KUPG members engage in a dynamic dialogue between young composers and young performers in hopes of providing an environment of learning and encouragement for both: it is an important aim of the group to be intimately involved in the process of creation in today’s musical world. KUPG performs at least two on-campus concerts of percussion chamber music of the 20th and 21st centuries each year, with additional performances on and off-campus



Applicants for BM in Performance, BME in Music Education/ Music Therapy, and BA in Music must perform in all major areas listed below.  This list is the minimum required audition for the undergraduate level.

  • Marimba or other mallet instruments: Two contrasting solos, at least one of which must be four mallets
  • Snare Drum: one concert solo and one rudimental solo, rolls and rudiments selected at random
  • Timpani: One solo or etude, tuning of intervals
  •  Sight Reading​


All applicants for the MM in Performance or the DMA in Performance must perform in all major areas listed below. This list is the minimum required audition for the graduate level. Feel free to prepare anything else you would like to play for auditions.

  • Marimba or other mallet instruments: Two contrasting solos, at least one of which must be four mallets
  • Snare Drum: One concert solo or etude and two contrasting orchestral excerpts.
  • Timpani: One solo or etude and two contrasting orchestral excerpts
  • Sight Reading

For more information contact: Michael Compitello

School of Music Events
KU Today
Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.

Friends of the School of Music