Welcome to the Oberlin Percussion Department Website!

"Teaching is a collaborative venture between student and teacher"

" What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)"

" Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion"-Weilhelm Friedrich Hegel, philosopher"

"Most people don't realize it," he says, but Professor of Percussion Michael Rosen knows that "percussion is more than just rhythm."

"The goal of music is to organize and produce sounds in such a way that they express shades of emotion."

"It's not about being a great percussioinist but rather always striving to become a great percussionist."

"The most important thing is the persuit of knowledge; the knowledge itself is a by product."

"Every musician discovers at some point that they have some flaw. It is the act of finding a creative way of overcoming this shortcoming that produces a great artist."

"I've taught many students who will carry something of me to places I will never reach."

To watch a video interview with Mr. Rosen CLICK HERE

Check out this video of the Oberlin Percussion Group:


Upcoming Events:

 April 14, 2015 - Oberlin Percussion Group Concert @ Warner Concert Hall


  • To Be Announced


  • Chris Anthony'88 breaks the Guiness Record for a drum roll!
  • Jennifer Torrence'09 wins a spot at the Lucerne Festival 2009
  • Jon Hepfer'o8 wins a spot at the Lucerne Festival 2008
  • Percussionists Raise Money for Alzheimer's Association
  • Adam Sliwinski'01 Receives 2004 ASCAP Award

  • Justin Hines'95 Performs in New York

  • Matt Jenkins'06 Wins Presser Award
  • Ross Karre'05 Wins Seat in Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra Again!
      Ross Karre ’05, a percussion performance major, was selected to participate in the 2004 Lucerne (Switzerland) Festival Academy Orchestra and will participate again during the summer of 2005. Acclaimed conductor Pierre Boulez is the festival’s music director as well as principal conductor of the festival academy orchestra. Karre will be in Lucerne from Aug. 28 to Sept. 17. He was chosen by the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the festival’s ensemble-in-residence.
      Karre’s reaction to the good news?
      “ I am excited because the opportunity is awesome, relieved because I put quite a lot of time and effort into the audition CD, and stunned because the age cut-off is 28, and I’m only 20,” he says. For the audition recording, Karre played the obligatory repertoire: Jacob Druckman’s Reflections on the Nature of Water, Nos. 1 & 4, Philippe Manoury’s Le livre des claviers, No. 4, solo de vibraphone, and Elliott Carter’s Eight Pieces for Timpani, No. 1. Candidates were also allowed one piece composed after 1950 of their choosing. Karre selected Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kontakte for Piano, Percussion, and Electronic Sounds, which he had recorded with pianist Michael Gallope ’03 for an honors recital earlier this year.
      “ The required pieces were extremely difficult, and in some case, not pieces commonly performed in America. I spent about three hours a day for three months working on the repertoire, and I recorded the required pieces in Kulas Recital Hall over an 18-hour period Jan. 2 and 3 this year. I then picked the best takes from about 100 complete takes and sent the CD off to Switzerland.”
      All Karre’s expenses, including air travel, room, board, and tuition, will be paid by the Festival Academy.
      “ I auditioned for Lucerne because I admire Pierre Boulez and I love the complexity and conceptual nature of new music, especially the new music that we will be playing at the festival—a very intense program by such composers as Harrison Birtwistle, Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Harvey, and Franco Donatoni,” says Karre, who studies with Professor of Percussion Michael Rosen. “I hope to learn about how the new music of Europe is interpreted in Europe. I believe that the proliferation of this music is vital to the advancement of music as an art.”Karre wrote an article for the April 2003 issue of Percussive Notes about practice techniques using Rosen’s methodology. Rosen has shown him the importance of deeply examining a piece of music, he says.
      “ Mr. Rosen constantly emphasizes the crucial part of music that is far beyond the notes, rhythms, and dynamics,” he says. “That part of music seems so important to him that he doesn’t even have a single word to describe it. He calls it ‘drama,’ or ‘color,’ or ‘panache.’ Sometimes he just says ‘you know what I mean.’
      And in the intellectual understanding that so many Oberlin teachers have with their students, Karre does.

  • Jill Lichtenwalner'04 Captures Fulbright, Compares Approaches to Music History
      A Fulbright Scholarship will allow Jill Lichtenwalner ’04,who recently graduated Oberlin as a percussion performance and music history major, to spend a year at the University of Bonn in Germany, where she will study differences in German and American approaches to music history.
      “ I believe this experience will be invaluable to my development as both a person and a musicologist,” she says. “I am eager to study intensely the repertoire of Beethoven, Schumann, and Mendelssohn. Engaging in these intense studies will make me a stronger candidate for graduate school in the future.”
      Working with the music of these masters, Lichtenwalner plans to explore how and why American scholarship—the roots of which were formed by German musicology—has diverged and now encompasses broader fields.
      For the complete story and photograph of Jill go to Jill Lichtenwalner

  • Bonnie Whiting ’04 writes article for Conservatory Magazine
      The View from Here: A Window on Conservatory Life
      Beyond Berlioz: A Cycle with the Oberlin Orchestra
      The ensemble managers hurl chairs across the rehearsal room and assemble them into some semblance of an orchestra plot. My fellow percussionists and I roll in the timpani and set out bass drums, cymbals, and other accessories.
      It’s the first Oberlin Orchestra rehearsal of the year. Along with the prospect of our first concert a mere four weeks away, we’re looking forward to the mid-semester opportunity to rehearse under Franz Welser-Möst of the Cleveland Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle of the Berlin Philharmonic. Despite the fact that percussionists function primarily on solo parts in ensembles, Oberlin’s 12 student percussionists form a tight-knit group, and we take time to help one another with everything from moving instruments to interpreting music. We share our instruments, a hallway of practice rooms, and one studio. We play together in all Oberlin’s ensembles, including the Oberlin Percussion Group. On Tuesdays, we share dinner. Many of us live together, on and off campus. This close proximity makes us more than mere colleagues.
      Without question, the most unifying element of our studio is the excellent instruction and mentoring of Professor of Percussion Michael Rosen. He leads us through a well-structured, highly disciplined, four-year program of study that is, nonetheless, also individually tailored to each student. In addition to becoming familiar with important musical literature and learning the basic techniques for snare drum, mallet-keyboard instruments, and timpani, we enter a world of percussion pedagogy steeped in tradition because of his dedication and experience.
      Oberlin bursts with opportunities for new music enthusiasts, and I’ve immersed myself in the performance and creation of new works. In addition to the standard repertoire learned in the orchestras, we become familiar with 20th-century classics and new works by student and professional composers through our work with the Contemporary Music Ensemble and the Wind Ensemble, both directed by Associate Professor of Conducting Timothy Weiss. Because of the superb musical direction here, I am becoming as comfortable with Birtwistle as I am with Beethoven.
      As the rehearsal continues, I become aware of his incredible attention to detail of the conductor Steven Smith. His precise clarity in communicating what he needs from the players is extraordinary. Although he sometimes speaks while conducting, it’s more effective when he simply makes eye contact with a violinist across the room, or nods his head in the direction of the bassists. The atmosphere is fast-paced and utilitarian; we’re making music, but Mr. Smith has very specific goals in mind.
      At the end of our concert, the orchestra finished to wild applause. Along with a great sense of accomplishment and plenty of adrenaline among the players, there was the knowledge that our journey with this music was not yet over. In the weeks to come, we would delve into two of the pieces again with our two guest conductors.
      In working with the Oberlin Orchestra, Franz Welser-Möst focused especially on the introduction and exposition of the Overture to Leonore. To achieve the sound he wanted, he utilized descriptions from the plot of Leonore itself to conjure the very specific emotions Beethoven expressed in his music. He translated this especially to color and vibrato in the string section, and to dynamic contrast, integrity, and intensity in the whole orchestra. He approached the music as a literal interpretation of a story to be told beneath the surface of the notes themselves; the orchestra’s main goal was to express the drama through unified, emotional playing.
      We addressed the concept of interpretation again when Sir Simon Rattle came to work with the orchestra just a few weeks later. “So you played it one way in your concert. Good!” he said. “Then last week, another conductor did it differently. Great! And now here I am to show you third way. Wake up! Communicate! Welcome to my world!”
      Three different conductors, three very different approaches, all of which pointed us toward a common goal: to take personal responsibility for our work and invest the time and energy necessary for the collaboration inherent in playing with an orchestra.
      After the concert and the rehearsals with the guest conductors, I soberly realized that my path with this music is just beginning. I feel the same way about the end of my time at Oberlin. I have learned so much in four years, and yet I am compelled to seek further, not settling for one simple solution or interpretation.

      To read the entire article and to see a photograph of Bonnie go to Bonnie Whiting

  • Ross Karre'05 wins Javits Fellowship