Department of Music

SUU Percussion

Percussion StudioThe Percussion Studio at Southern Utah University is a close-knit group of students pursuing both percussion performance and music education under the direction of Dr. Lynn Vartan. Students have the opportunity to study orchestral percussion, solo artist development, drum set, ethnic percussion and chamber music in the striking natural setting of the rocks and mountains that Southern Utah has to offer. Students also have the opportunity to pursue and design programs in education as well, such as the Elementary African Drum Group Bumbelberry Jam and ArtsFusion Elementary Percussion events at rural schools. The size of the Department allows for students to have constant access to Dr. Vartan, along with get-togethers like BBQ’s and a game night!

There are also several opportunities to network with professional musicians who are frequently on campus to perform and/or record with Dr. Vartan. It is an atmosphere filled with performance, growth, sharing and fun!

Southern Utah University invites you to come study percussion at the undergraduate level, and hone your skills to be successful wherever you decide to go next!

For more info, contact Dr. Lynn Vartan at vartan@suu.edu .


Thank you for your interest in percussion at Southern Utah University! Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the percussion program.

How do I get a music scholarship? All percussion students can audition by appointment with Dr. Vartan during the months of February and March. You can also audition during Honor Band.  Email Dr. Vartan (vartan@suu.edu) for an appointment

What is required to audition for Percussion? It is desirable for applicants to play a solo piece in the following categories:

  • Mallets: The selection should be chosen for musical content and technical difficulty (two-and-four-mallet work is desirable). Scales, arpeggios, and sight-reading may be required.
  • Snare Drum: The selection should clearly demonstrate your level of technical ability. Rudiments, including an orchestra roll, at all dynamic levels may be required.
  • Timpani: The selection should utilize two or more drums. Rolls with different dynamic levels on different drums should be demonstrated. Intonation and sight-reading abilities may be tested.
  • Drum set and/or ethnic percussion is not required but may be included at the applicant's discretion.

Can I still audition if I can’t be there in person? Yes, you may submit video audition files to Dr. Vartan via email (vartan@suu.edu).

Can I take private percussion lessons if I am not a music major? Yes, private instruction is available to students on a space available basis; preference is given to those students participating in large ensembles.

Percussionist Lynn Vartan is an international performer and educator who is an advocate for diversity in music. As a new music percussionist Lynn has worked with Michael Colgrass, Vinny Golia, Arthur Jarvinen, Ursula Oppens, Joan Tower, Glen Velez, Xtet, James Newton, Chinary Ung, the Hilliard Ensemble, the Tambuco Percussion Ensemble and Grammy Award-winning Southwest Chamber Music, and is known for her dynamic athleticism and exciting energy on stage. She has commissioned and/or performed countless new works for percussion by composers such as Donald Crockett, William Kraft, Steve Hoey, Veronika Krausas, Erica Muhl, Arthur Jarvinen, Sean Heim, Jeff Holmes, and Shaun Naidoo.

SUU Percussion

As a recital soloist, Lynn has been featured on the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella Series, the Different Trains Series, at Montana State University, Cornell University and with the USC Contemporary and Percussion Ensembles. She is regularly presented on the Music at the Court series in Pasadena, California, where she produces her own solo percussion concerts. As a concerto soloist Lynn has performed with the Sierra Wind Symphony, the CSUN Symphony and Southwest Chamber Music, as well as premiering two additional new concertos for marimba and percussion by Mark Lanz Weiser and Shaun Naidoo. As a recording artist, Lynn has appeared on the ECM New Series for Stephen Hartke's Tituli, and was twice Grammy nominated on the Cambria label with Southwest Chamber Music in the "Best Classical Album of the Year" and "Best Small Ensemble with or without a conductor” for The Complete Chamber Music of Charlos Chavez, Volume III. Lynn is also featured on Albany Records as a soloist on an album of music by Erica Muhl and she is currently producing two albums of her own for release next year.

A devoted ensemble musician, Lynn is the percussionist for Southwest Chamber Music, the violin/percussion duo 61/4 which she founded with Shalini Vijayan, and a duo percussion group she formed with Tambuco's Miguel Gonzalez. She received her Master's and Doctorate degrees with special honors and recognition from the University of Southern California. Lynn is currently the Director of Percussion at Southern Utah University. Lynn is endorsed by the Paiste Corporation, Remo Inc. and Marimba One.

Find more information on Dr. Lynn Vartan

  • MUSC 3240 - Percussion Ensemble, a half unit class welcoming less experienced players to develop skills and technique.
  • MUSC 3241 - Advanced Percussion Ensemble, a two unit course for more advanced players featuring cutting-edge repertoire and multiple performance opportunities.
  • MUSC 3242 - Drumline, a marching percussion ensemble that performs at campus athletic events and other venues.

The Southern Utah University Percussion Ensembles perform historically significant works for percussion, contemporary percussion literature, novelty percussion and traditional non-western percussion music. The ensembles are comprised of both music majors and non-majors and welcomes students with a variety of levels of experience. Several performance opportunities are available to members of the Percussion Ensembles, including concerts, performances and other promotional events for the College of Performing and Visual Arts as well as concerts on and off campus. We are so excited to have grown to three full ensembles and have scheduled tours in 2012-2013 academic year. For a look and listen check out our YouTube channel.

SUU Drumline SUU Drumline Drumline

MUSC 3242 - Drumline, a marching percussion ensemble that performs at campus athletic events and other venues.

The SUU Drumline is comprised of both music majors and non-majors and welcomes students with a variety of levels of experience. During the Fall semester, the Drumline plays al all the home football games and usually travels to one or two away games to get the crowd energized for the team! The Drumline also participates in the annual Homecoming parade, and for other events on campus such as our Science Building Dedication ceremony and the Bell Tower tradition of welcoming the new freshmen to SUU. In the Spring the drumline puts together a indoor show that performs at some home basketball games.

Each year, the SUU Percussion studio hosts a Percussion Festival with workshops and concerts with various guest artists!

Arthur Lipner

In April of 2019, we hosted famous Jazz Vibe and improv expert, Arthur Lipner! We viewed a screening of his documentary “Talking Sticks,” an incredible master class, and Great one on one lessons!

Dr. Fernando Meza

In April of 2018, we hosted renowned percussionist, Dr. Fernando Meza who performed with the students on “Mudra” by Bob Becker. He also and gave a masterclass and lessons!

  • Jordan Nielsen, class of 2019, was awarded a Teaching Assistantship for his Master’s Degree at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO.
  • Joseph Howe, class of 2013, was hired as an Adjunct Professor at SUU and is now teaching the SUU Drumline!
  • Lydia Field, class of 2015, was hired as a staff accompanist at SUU!
  • Marissa Brown, class of 2017, fulfilled a dream to go to Africa this past summer!
  • Darin Hunsinger, Class of 2016, was awarded a Graduate Assistantship for his Master’s Degree at the University of New Mexico.
  • Darin Hunsinger, Class of 2016, performed with the World Percussion Group Tour of 14 universities around the US in the Spring of 2016.
  • Darin Hunsinger, Class of 2016, is performing a Showcase concert at PASIC 2016 with the World Percussion Group.
  • Darin Hunsinger, Class of 2016, performed at PASIC 2015 with Texas Christian University where he was awarded a Graduate Assistantship in Percussion.
  • Joe Howe, Class of 2013, finished his Master of Music Degree from Southern Oregon University.
  • Joe Howe, Class of 2013, is performing with Left Edge Percussion Group, a quartet based out of Oregon.
  • Joe Howe, Class of 2013, spent a month in Brazil in the summer of 2015 performing and researching Escola de Samba.
  • Joe Howe, Class of 2013, was on the 2016 Board of Producers for the Oregon FRINGE festival and premiered his piece Illumination.
  • Jamie Francisco, Class of 2008, received her Masters Degree from Portland State University.