Percussion

Several of Australia’s leading percussionists and percussion ensembles, including Synergy Percussion, are based in Sydney and are well represented on the staff of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Percussion Unit. Some of our percussion staff also perform in the Sydney Symphony and Australia Opera and Ballet Orchestras.

While versatility and skill on multiple instruments are the percussionist’s trademark, Sydney Conservatorium students may also specialise, for example, in mallet instruments or in timpani. As well as acquiring a solo repertoire,  our percussion students perform in ensembles ranging from the Percussion Ensemble and the Modern Music and Early Music Ensembles to Wind Symphony and the Sydney Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra. The Percussion Unit attracts national and international performers and composers. Recent overseas visitors have included Steven Schick, Fritz Hauser, David Cossin, Alan Cumberland, Ney Rosauro and Jonathan Haas.

Study Options

Percussion Faculty

Audition Requirements

Accompaniment for Live Auditions
You are required to provide your own accompanist. Under extenuating circumstances only, the Conservatorium may be able to assist you in organising an accompanist. Please contact Student Administration for information.

Audition DVD Recording
Where possible, you should attend a live audition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. If you are an interstate or international applicant and cannot attend in person, you may submit a video recorded audition through the application process. The recordings must be no older than six weeks at the time of dispatch. Audio-only recordings will not be accepted.

Undergraduate

Music Skills Test
Since prior music skills development is essential for successful study at the Sydney Conservatorium, the Music Skills Test must be completed. The test is held at the Conservatorium during the audition/interview period and is designed to assess whether you have a sufficient level of music literacy in harmony and aural perception to cope with the demands of the course. As a guide, the minimum level of skills possessed should be at the level of the New South Wales Music 2 syllabus (formerly 2 Unit Music) or AMEB Level 6 Musicianship or equivalent. Results of the Music Skills Test supplement the information provided by other aspects of the audition process. If you are successful, the results also help to determine streaming in aural and harmony subjects.


Bachelor of Music (Performance) and Diploma of Music

  1. Technical requirements
    Snare drum – demonstrate from the 40 PAS International Drum Regiments: single, multi-bounce and double stroke rolls; diddle combinations; flam combinations; and drag combinations. Timpani – demonstrate: long roll (P, F, <,>); tune two timpani in 4ths and/or 5ths from a given A; and damping techniques. Xylophone, Marimba or Vibraphone – demonstrate all major and minor scales and triad arpeggios (2 octaves)
  2. Prepared program
    One short work, or movement from a work, for each of the following: snare drum or multi-percussion; timpani and xylophone, marimba or vibraphone
  3. Sight reading: snare drum, xylophone, marimba and/or vibraphone
  4. Music Skills Test

Bachelor of Music (Music Education), Bachelor of Music Studies and combined degrees

  1. Technical requirements
    Snare drum – demonstrate from the 40 PAS International Drum Regiments: single, multi-bounce and double stroke rolls; diddle combinations; flam combinations; and drag combinations. Timpani – demonstrate: long roll (P, F, <,>); tune two timpani in 4ths and/or 5ths from a given A and damping techniques. Xylophone, Marimba or Vibraphone – demonstrate scales and triad arpeggios of A, D, G, C, F, B flat and E flat major and their relative minors in harmonic form (2 octaves)
  2. Prepared program
    One short work, movement, extensive study or substantial orchestral excerpt for each of the following: snare drum or multi-percussion; timpani; and xylophone, marimba or vibraphone
  3. Sight reading; snare drum, xylophone, marimba and/or vibraphone
  4. Music Skills Test

Postgraduate

All Degrees
You must perform a 40-50 minute program that represents the area in percussion performance that you are intending to focus on. If you plan to focus on the marimba, for example, you should perform major works or concerti for marimba. If you plan to focus on orchestral percussion, you should perform orchestral excerpts on snare drum, timpani, mallet keyboards, aux percussion and a J. S. Bach transcription on marimba. If you are interested in studying a wide range of repertoire, you should perform pieces reflecting this diversity, for example, works for mallet keyboards, timpani and multiple percussion.