Undergraduate Double Degree Program

Percussion at Bard  Jason Treuting, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Eric Cha-Beach

Percussion at Bard 

Sō Percussion is thrilled to lead the percussion program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music. This exciting and world-class percussion curriculum nurtures students’ technical skills and musical understanding, as well as giving them the practical performance experience necessary to lead a life in music.

In addition to studying with Sō Percussion, students work with an exciting roster of additional teachers drawn from the professional music world and in a masterclass setting, with various guest teachers. Students have opportunities to develop orchestral skills, to explore music outside of the western tradition—most notably Gamelan—and to work closely with the John Cage Trust, located on the Bard campus. Finally, there is special emphasis placed on chamber music, in both all-percussion and mixed ensembles, as a tool for creating thoughtful, well-rounded musicians. 

Double-Degree Program

Double-Degree Program
The five-year program combines rigorous conservatory training with a challenging and comprehensive liberal arts program at one of the finest undergraduate colleges in the country. Percussion students, like all Conservatory students, pursue both a bachelor of music and a bachelor of arts degree in a thoroughly integrated and supportive educational community. The 21st-century musician requires both strong musical skills and the strong intellectual perspective that are developed in a broad liberal arts curriculum. The Bard College Conservatory of Music's double degree program is designed to give young musicians this broader skill set.

Percussion Fellowship 

Percussion Fellowship 
For students who have already completed a Bachelor of Music degree, the percussion program also offers a percussion fellowship.  These students are enrolled in the Advanced Performance Studies (APS) non-degree program. Additionally, they are involved in all aspects of running the percussion program at the Bard Conservatory – scheduling and leading chamber music rehearsals, mentoring and organizing the orchestra percussion section, coordinating the teaching schedule, maintaining the instrument collection, and monitoring the progress of students in the program.  Fellows are offered financial aid for tuition in the Advanced Performance Studies program, as well as a stipend toward living expenses.

Private Instruction

Private Instruction
All percussion students study privately with the members of Sō Percussion. In addition to private lessons, students study several times each semester with guest instructors, covering special topics in percussion. In the first 2 years, students spend one semester with each of the members of Sō Percussion and focus on the development of fundamental skills. During the last 3 years, students and faculty collaborate on a course of study centering on the student’s particular musical interests.

Orchestral Experience

Orchestral Experience
All percussion students perform in the Bard Conservatory Orchestra, which rehearses twice a week and performs through- out the year. The Bard Conservatory Orchestra performs several concerts each semester, and at least four times each year in the Frank Gehry–designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. The orchestra also performs annual side-by-side concerts with members of The Orchestra Now (TŌN), conducted by Leon Botstein, and performs regularly at the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, as part of the Bard Prison Initiative. In addition to its performances at Bard, the orchestra has performed at Alice Tully Hall in New York City and Harvard University’s Sanders Theater. The Conservatory Orchestra has also performed abroad in concert tours of China, eastern Europe and Cuba.

Percussion Ensemble

All percussion majors study and perform chamber music together as part of Bard’s resident student percussion ensemble. The Percussion Ensemble rehearses 3 or 4 times per week and receives weekly coachings with members of Sō Percussion.

Solo Performance Requirements

Students frequently perform in public, programming full recitals in at least 2 out of their last 3 years. The final recital is considered the student’s required degree recital. For the degree recital students are required to write program notes and a professional biography. 

Academic Music Requirements

The core music curriculum requirements include four semesters of the Conservatory Core Sequence, which consists of Harmony and Counterpoint, Composing in Classical Forms, Composition for Performers, and Conservatory Seminar.  In addition, students take courses in aural skills, music history, and orchestra repertoire. 

Frequent Guests

  • Dan Druckman: Associate Principal Percussionist of the New York Philharmonic, Chair of the Juilliard Percussion Program
  • Thomas Freer: Assistant Principal Timpani of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra 
  • Jonathan Haas: Principal Percussionist of the American Symphony Orchestra, Artist-Faculty at the Aspen Music Festival
  • Matthew Strauss: Houston Symphony Orchestra, Professor at Rice University and University of Miami 
  • Jan Williams: Professor Emeritus of Percussion at SUNY Buffalo
  • Greg Zuber: Principal Percussionist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Artist-Faculty of the Verbier Music Festival

A "Sō Day" 

Members of Sō Percussion are in residence at Bard one day per week for lessons, coachings and rehearsals. This “Sō Day” is usually a whirlwind of activity and music making. Although students study primarily with one member of Sō Percussion each semester for their private instruction, they frequently work with the other members in order to take advantage of individual areas of expertise. This program allows students to work in depth on individual skills, while at the same time gaining exposure to a broad range of instruction.

About the Students 

In conversation with some members of the Percussion Studio: Sam, Daniel, and Meilin

About the Students 

What is it like to work with Sō Percussion?
Daniel: It’s amazing. They are young and energetic, and they are incredible at what they do, which makes them really fun to work with. They also work so well together as a group, but they each have such distinct teaching and musical insights.
Sam: They are all classically trained but are on the cutting edge of new chamber music, which is awesome for us. Because when they commission new works, we get to work on the pieces with them a lot of the time.

Why did you choose Bard?
Meilin: I chose Bard because the option to earn a double-degree was very apealling to me. It makes me a more well-rounded musician with a broader perspective of the world.

What is your experience like in orchestra?
Meilin: Working with Maestro Botstein is amazing because he knows so much about all of the music that we play.
Daniel: We get to play such a wide variety of music. We play all of the standard works, but also a lot of new or forgotten music.
Sam: There’s also the opportunity to play in so many different places, including prisons through the Bard Prison Initiative. We even did a tour of Cuba a couple of years ago!

How many hours a day do you practice and how many do you spend playing?
Sam: I practice around 2-3 hours a day.
Daniel: And we play in classes or rehearsals at least another 2-3 hours a day.

What are your other activities and opportunities for percussion at Bard?
Daniel: There is percussion ensemble, Music Alive! contemporary music concerts, which allows us to actually work with the composers, other student organized concerts, faculty/sta concerts, and Conservatory Orchestra. We are always in high demand!