School of Music > Academics > Studios & Areas of Study > Percussion


​​​​​​​​​The DePaul University School of Music Percussion Department strives to instill in each student the fundamentals of technique and musicianship that are essential for a career in music, regardless of area of emphasis.  Students in the percussion department have gone on to have varied career tracks such as performance, education, business, sound recording, and composition.  Whether you are interested in orchestral percussion, new music, chamber music, or collegiate/K-12 teaching, we have a course of study that we can customize for you.  

In today’s music industry, percussionists must have a strong foundation in ALL aspects of percussion -- not just a select few.  All of our faculty members are current professional performers, and we pass on our first-hand knowledge to our students.  Located in the heart of Chicago, students are exposed to performances of all kinds of music and have opportunities to see and hear their teachers perform almost any night of the week.  Students work on their ensemble skills in percussion ensemble, large-ensembles, and chamber groups.  Solo skills are fostered in recitals, lessons, studio classes, and mock orchestral auditions.   Degrees offered include the BM, BME, MM, MME, and Performers Certificate.  Please feel free to explore our site for information on our faculty, ensembles, audition requirements, and classes offered.


Ian Ding
Ian Ding
David Herbert
David Herbert
Michael Kozakis
Michael Kozakis
Eric Millstein
Eric Millstein
Cynthia Yeh
Cynthia Yeh

Percussion Ensemble

Under the direction of Michael Kozakis, the Percussion Ensemble performs a large variety of music expressly written for percussion. The ensemble is dedicated to performing a balance of historically important works and the latest contemporary works. The ensemble performs fall, winter, and spring concerts and performances at student recitals, various Days of Percussion, and large conventions. Performances include a mix of works written for the small chamber group to the large percussion orchestra.  

Click here to see a list of some recent pieces performed by the Percussion Ensemble.

Percussion Ensemble

Large Ensembles

Through audition, all percussionists at DePaul are assigned to large ensembles at the beginning of each school year.  Students can be assigned to Symphony Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Opera, and the new music ensemble, 20+.  Occasionally, due to repertoire requirements, students are assigned to more than one ensemble per quarter.

Teacher Assignments

One of the assets of a DePaul University School of Music education is the ability to study with a variety of teachers.  Unlike many schools, all DePaul students study with the major faculty and NOT graduate assistants.

DePaul operates on a quarter system with classes in the Fall, Winter, and Spring, spanning a 10-week period.  Students have 9 one-hour lessons per quarter and 10 one-hour studio classes (presented weekly).  Studio classes are a mix of student playing and faculty discussions.  All faculty members teach studio classes on a rotating basis, so students learn from the entire faculty, even if taking private lessons with just one teacher.

David Herbert’s lessons are open for all students to audit, even if they are studying with another primary teacher, as long as the student is ok with this arrangement.  

Undergraduate upperclassmen and Graduate students have the option to split their 9 hours per quarter amongst two different teachers in the following manner:

3 credits = 9 hours with the same teacher
2+1 credits = 6 hours with one teacher and 3 hours with another teacher

Teacher assignments are determined according to your course of study.

Students can request their lesson studio of choice each quarter from the percussion coordinator. While requests are rarely denied, this is ultimately a faculty decision based on teacher load, faculty discussion of the student’s progress, etc. Faculty highly encourage a reasonable continued length of study with the same teacher(s) to attain the concepts being taught properly.  

The Percussion Department offers a total of 2 graduate (non-teaching) assistantships. Duties include instrument maintenance, lesson scheduling, and various other duties as needed in the department. Assistantships are renewable for the graduate’s second year. Stipends are available for these positions. 

All 1st and 2nd-year students are assigned to a studio teacher for the whole year. Upon receiving an offer of admission, performance majors can make a request to the percussion coordinator if they strongly prefer a specific teacher. These requests are not guaranteed, but performance majors can request to know who they will study with before accepting their offer of admission. 

Students majoring in other courses of study, such as Music Education, Sound Recording, and Performing Arts Management, will be assigned a teacher before the beginning of the school year.  

3rd and 4th-year students can choose their teachers based on the method described above for graduate students.  

Classes Offered

World Percussion Techniques
This course, taught by Ian Ding, is a survey of different world traditions & techniques that are commonly encountered by the modern percussionist. Students will explore instruments, techniques, and grooves from the Middle East, India, Latin America, and Africa in a hands-on and interactive format.

Music Technology for Percussionists
This course, taught by Ian Ding, explores the use of technology as it specifically applies to percussionists. Topics covered will include basic recording techniques; looping & sampling; performing with live electronics and/or fixed media; and other creative applications of technology for the modern percussionist.

Percussion Pedagogy
This course, taught by Michael Kozakis, explores teaching techniques of the major percussion instruments for students beginning through advanced proficiency levels.  This includes examining techniques for motivating young students.  The course also includes an in-depth examination of pertinent teaching materials, such as method books and collections.  In addition to individual instruments, such topics as marching percussion and forming/teaching a private studio are explored.  Students will also teach sample lessons to non-percussionists in front of the class.

Percussion Orchestral Repertoire
This course, taught by Eric Millstein, is a two-year course in which more than one hundred pieces of music are discussed. The goal of the class is to familiarize students with the vast body of percussion and timpani audition excerpts as well as with the most commonly performed pieces of the orchestral literature for percussion. 
Concert Accessories
This course, taught by Michael Kozakis, allows freshmen percussionists to cover tambourine, triangle, castanets, cymbals (crash and suspended), bass drum, and tam-tam in a group setting.  In this course, students learn the various techniques of these instruments and how they are applied to symphonic, wind, and chamber ensembles.
Should they choose to, students have the opportunity ​to play in the DePaul African Ensemble, which was founded to further the understanding of music from Africa and the African diaspora. Avo Randruut directs the ensemble and is assisted by Kate Brucher. Students in the ensemble come from many different programs within the School of Music, but they share a common interest in the music of African cultures. They learn drumming techniques, repertory, songs, songs, and movement, as many cultures in West Africa integrate instrumental music, singing, dance, poetry, and theater.

Recent Alumni/Student Accomplishments

Joshua Jones, Principal Percussion - Kansas City Symphony and Grant Park Symphony
Joe Bricker, Sectional Percussion/Associate Timpani – Cincinnati Symphony
Shaun Tilburg, Principal Percussion – Phoenix Symphony
Eric Renick, Principal Percussion – Auckland Philharmonia (New Zealand)
Won Suk Lee, Principal Timpani – KBS Symphony Orchestra (Seoul, South Korea)
Becca Laurito, Principal Percussion – Hawaii Symphony Orchestra
Maddie Shake – Principal Percussion – Arkansas Symphony​
Leo Taylor – Principal Percussion – South Dakota Symphony
Robert Burrows – Asst. Principal Percussion – Omaha Symphony Orchestra
Robert Kistler, Principal Percussion – Akron Symphony
Ryan Kahlbaugh, Principal Percussion – Milwaukee Ballet
Nick Bonaccio – Section Percussion – Madison Symphony
Simon Gomez – Principal Timpani – South Bend Symphony, Illinois Philharmonic
Andy Cierny, Section Percussion – South Bend Symphony, Illinois Philharmonic

Military Bands
Jeff DeRoche – US Navy Band, D.C.
Derek Stults – US Army Band, D.C.
Matt Bell – US Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, Snare drum
David McDonald – US Air Force – Airmen of Note, Drum Set

Many of our past students also perform as top freelancers, educators, musical theatre, and chamber music artists in many major cities.  Many students have been members of training orchestras such as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the New World Symphony.


In the past few years, we have had the opportunity to host masterclasses from some of the top performers in the percussion field:

  • Members of Third Coast Percussion 
  • Jason Treuting - So Percussion
  • John Beck - Percussion Professor Emeritus, Eastman School of Music
  • Jacob Nissly - Principal Percussion, San Francisco Symphony
  • Ted Atkatz - former Principal Percussion, Chicago Symphony
  • Charles Settle – Principal Percussion, Toronto Symphony
  • Don Liuzzi – Timpani, Philadelphia Orchestra
  • John Tafoya – former Timpanist, National Symphony Orchestra
  • Will Hudgins – Percussion, Boston Symphony
  • Greg Zuber – Principal Percussion, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
  • Michael Udow - Former Professor, University of Michigan Ann Arbor
  • Payton MacDonald - Professor, William Paterson University
  • Al Payson - Former Percussionist, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Aiyun Huang – Solo percussionist
  • Brent Roman – Multipercussionist
  • Ed Saindon - Vibes
  • Doug Bratt – Drum Set Artist


The Percussion Department has 9 practice/rehearsal rooms and a studio size that strives to be between 18 and 22 students (including graduate students).  All the equipment is well-maintained and updated on a regular basis.  Of the 9 rooms, one is a two-story large percussion room (1000+ square feet) for lessons, studio classes, practice space, and percussion ensemble.  There are 3 medium teaching/practice spaces (400-500 SF) with all of the main instruments available (timpani, 5-octave marimba, xylophone, glock, vibes, etc.).  There are 5 smaller practice rooms on the first floor with drum sets, mallets, timpani, etc.

Highlights of our inventory include:

2 sets of Pearl/Adams Philharmonic Dresden Classic
2 sets of Walter Light Mark XIV - Dresden Pedals (one set is in German configuration)​
1 set of Ludwig Ringer – Berlin Pedal
2 sets of Yamaha cambered, hammered copper bowls (balanced action)
1 set of Pearl/Adams Professional Cambered Bowl in Hammered Copper (balanced action)
2 sets of Ludwig Professional Symphonic Drums (balanced action)

4 Marimba One – 5 octaves
1 Yamaha Professional – 5 octave
1 Malletech Imperial Grand – 5 octave
1 Deagan – 4 1/3 octaves
1 Musser – 4 1/3 octaves
1 Deagan – 4 octaves

1 Adams Orchestra Bell with Pedal – 3 octaves
1 Adams Orchestra Bell without Pedal – 3 octaves
2 sets of Fall Creek Wide Bar (1 ½”) (K-100W)
1 Fall Creek – Parsifal Width Bars (Rt-1000)
2 Deagan Box Bells

2 Deagan 870
1 Deagan 855​
1 Deagan 880
1 Adams Artist Xylophone
1 Leedy 4 octave
1 Musser M50
1 Musser M51

3 Musser Pro Vibes
2 Adams Artist Vibraphones
1 Deagan