Percussion Ensemble 


Montana State University-Bozeman has distinguished itself as one of the region's leading music institutions with a world-class percussion experience that encompasses all facets of percussion performance. MSU currently has two wind bands, a full symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, two jazz bands, percussion ensemble, the Spirit of the West drum line, the gamelan ensemble, and numerous solo performing opportunities to provide a well-rounded program of study here.

I hope that you will contact us about becoming part of the MSU Percussion Studio and the MSU music family. Visit us often for the latest information on upcoming performances, guest artists, and audition dates.


Chamber Ensemble

This ensemble performs the best of the traditional percussion literature, from the classic masterworks, to the newest contemporary literature. This group varies in size and scope and focuses on giving students an optimal chamber music experience.

World/Pop Ensemble

This ensemble plays arrangements and transcriptions from the popular music genre including artists such as Bela Fleck, Pat Metheny, and other representative groups. The ensemble also focuses on folkloric and traditional music from around the world including Latin American, Brazilian, and African percussion.

Mallet Ensemble

This is the smallest and most intimate of our percussion ensembles. Comprised mainly of duos, trios, and quartets, the mallet ensemble focuses on music ranging from ragtime to classical transcriptions.

Spirit of the West Drumline

The Drumline is the driving rhythmic force behind the SOTW Marching Band. This exciting ensemble performs at all MSU Football games and various exhibitions (basketball, volleyball, and high school games) throughout the year. Students in this ensemble enjoy the family atmosphere, including majors from all over the campus, as well as playing and performing shows and cadences to sold-out crowds at Bobcat stadium. For audition and marching band camp information please contact Professor Stephen Versaevel.

Other Ensembles

Other ensembles available to MSU percussionists include the two wind bands, MSU Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, two jazz ensembles and jazz combos, and the MSU Pep Band. Read more about the emsembles at MSU.

Audition Information

Thank you for your interest in the Montana State University Percussion Program! Below you will find a list of steps you should take when preparing for your audition for the MSU Music Department. If you have any questions regarding the audition processes that are not answered below, feel free to email Professor Stephen Versaevel.

  1. Go to the Montana State University Music Department’s website and follow the directions for applying to the university, registering for an audition date, and inquiring about music scholarships.
  2. Select and prepare music that will demonstrate your proficiency on at least two of the following instruments: snare drum (concert and/or rudimental), keyboards (marimba, xylophone, vibraphone), timpani, and drumset. Below is a suggested list of repertoire:
    • Snare Drum (Concert and/or rudimental)
      1. Concert - An etude from Mitchell Peter’s Intermediate Snare Drum Studies, or Anthony Cirone’s Portraits in Rhythm
      2. Rudimental - A solo from Lalo Davila's Contemporary Rudimental Studies and Solos, Edward Freytag’s Rudimental Cookbook, or an appropriate published solo
    • Keyboard (two and/or four mallet) – Marimba, Xylophone, Vibraphone
      1. Two-Mallet – An etude from Morris Goldenberg’s Modern School for Xylophone, Marimba, and Vibraphone, Beth Gottlieb’s Masterworks for Mallets, or an appropriate solo
      2. Four-Mallet – Any four-mallet solo that best represents your proficiency on marimba or vibraphone
    • Timpani
      1. Any published solo that best demonstrates your proficiency
    • Drumset
      1. You will be asked to demonstrate various styles on drumset (Rock, Latin, Swing, etc.)
  3. Please dress appropriately for your audition.
  4. At your audition, all instruments will be provided for you, but you are more than welcome to bring your own. Please bring your own sticks, mallets, and music (original and copies for the jury). Accompanists are only provided by request.
  5. During your audition, be prepared to stop in the middle of the piece as we may not need to hear the entire selection. Also, please feel free to use this time at the end of the audition to ask any questions you may have about the music program.
  6. If you are attending an audition weekend, make sure you attend any performances, sessions, classes, and tours scheduled for you, we want you to learn as much as you can about Montana State University while you are here. Most of all, feel free to talk to any current percussion students that are around the building. They are an invaluable resource for hearing what life is like at MSU and will be more than happy to assist you in any way they can!

Large Ensemble Percussion Audition

It is EXTREMLEY important to listen to several recordings of these excerpts to hear the correct phrasing, as well as practice to a metronome to make sure your time is accurate. I will reiterate that the student who makes first chair will be on first call for any paying gigs in the area (Bozeman Symphony, Helena Symphony, Intermountain Opera, etc..)

You will only be asked to play the part that is in brackets. The order of the excerpts are:

  1. Timpani – Exercise #71 (tune to correct pitches and play in it’s entirety)
  2. Delecluse – Snare drum (starting at number 8 and going to rehearsal 2)
  3. Aaron Copland's "Hoe-Down" - Xylophone
  4. Antonin Dvorak “Carnival Overture” – Tambourine (beginning to the downbeat of rehearsal B
  5. Sergei Prokofiev “Scythian Suite” – Xylophone (play from rehearsal 2 to 6)
  6. Cymbal Crashes – No music (you will be asked to play cymbal crashes at various dynamic levels)


Contact the Instructor

Stephen  Versaevel

Stephen Versaevel

Associate Professor
Percussion performance and pedagogy