The College of Arts and Architecture


Admission to the percussion studio at Penn State is very competitive. Please read and follow the instructions carefully.

All auditionees must audition on snare drum, mallets, and timpani. While applicants are not expected to be experts on all three, a strong background must be demonstrated in at least one area. 

The suggested audition materials below represent the minimum level of repertoire in each category. More challenging music may be selected if it can be performed well.

Snare Drum

  • demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the rudiments
  • play a rudimental solo from the Wilcoxon All American Drummer or similar material
  • perform a concert snare drum etude demonstrating concert style roll, dynamic control, and reading ability. Any etude from the Cirone Portraits in Rhythm (except for etude #1) or similar material is appropriate.


  • demonstrate knowledge of the major scales; two-octaves ascending and descending. Knowledge of minor scales is encouraged but not required.
  • perform a two-mallet marimba or xylophone solo demonstrating current level of ability
  • play a short four-mallet marimba solo such as Mitchell Peters' Yellow After the Rain, or a portion of a longer work


  • demonstrate ability to match pitch and tune a drum correctly
  • play a three- or four-drum etude from the Goodman Modern Method for Timpani (or similar material)

Drum Set (Optional)

  • demonstrate knowledge of styles (swing, rock, Latin, funk, etc.)
  • perform a short solo or "trading fours"
  • Optional: play a short written-out or transcribed solo such as those in the back of the Latham Advanced Funk Studies book.

Auditionees should provide their own music, sticks, and mallets. If local stores do not have what is needed, materials may be purchased from:

Steve Weiss Music
2324 Wyandotte Rd.
Willow Grove, PA 19090
215-659-1170 FAX

If there are any questions about what is appropriate or expected, please do not hesitate to contact Professor Armstrong. For directions about formally applying to Penn State, please visit Application Process. Once the application has been submitted, please schedule an audition by completing the online scheduling form.

Instructor: Dan Armstrong