Percussion

Master of Music (MM), Graduate Certificate (GCRT), Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Graduate Fall Application Deadline

December 1

Looking for Spring Admission?
Click here for your requirements

Current USC Thornton Student?
Click here for additional information

Graduate Application Requirements for Fall Admission

This section is for all MM, GCRT, and DMA applicants including current USC students applying to the Percussion program (fall semester only). For applicants interested in Artist Diploma, please refer to the Artist Diploma requirements page.

All applicants are required to submit two separate application forms:

  1. USC Application for Graduate Admission
  2. Thornton’s SlideRoom application form

The total application fee is $115 ($90 for the USC Graduate Application and $25 for the SlideRoom Media/Materials upload). All required materials must be received by December 1. Application materials will not be accepted via mail or email. If both required application forms are not submitted by the appropriate deadline, your application will be removed from consideration.

Applicants experiencing hardship or extenuating circumstances due to natural disaster or public health concerns in their local area that may affect their ability to satisfy application requirements may contact the Thornton Office of Admission at uscmusic@usc.edu to explore possible accommodations. Though we cannot guarantee that accommodations/exceptions will be possible, applicants are encouraged to contact the Admission Office as soon as possible to allow the maximum amount of time to consider the options.

Applying For

Fall Admission

Auditions Required?

Yes, 2 rounds

Questions?

Email: uscmusic@usc.edu | Phone: (213)740-8986

Complete the USC Application

Applicants must complete the USC Graduate Application and submit all other application materials required by the December 1st deadline.

USC Graduate Application Fee

The application fee for the USC Graduate application is $90. Application fee waivers are available to qualified applicants, and must be requested before submitting the USC Graduate Application. If you plan to apply for a waiver of the USC Graduate Application fee, please do so at least two weeks before the application deadline. The deadline will not be extended for applicants who fail to request a fee waiver in time. Details and instructions can be found here.

Transcripts

All transcripts are due December 1st. Please carefully read the transcript requirements below.

Scans (PDF format) of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended must be uploaded into the USC Graduate application. Official transcripts are issued by the registrar’s office of each institution. Unofficial transcripts or documents printed from an on-line student system will not be accepted. Failure to upload scans of official transcripts may significantly delay the release of a final admission decision.

Please note that official transcripts must also be submitted separately to the USC Graduate Admission office following the guidelines here.

Program Materials Section

When completing the USC Graduate application, it is important to pay special attention to the following items that you will find in the “program materials” section of the application:

  • Thornton SlideRoom portal – A link to access the Thornton SlideRoom portal will be provided in this section.
  • The Documents tab – Documents submitted in this section will not be accessible to the Thornton faculty. Thornton faculty will only be able to review documents submitted via the Thornton SlideRoom portal. In order to complete this section, you must check the box indicating that you do not wish to upload documents in this section.
  • The Questions tab – Enter your SlideRoom Confirmation number where indicated (you will receive your SlideRoom confirmation number upon submission of the SlideRoom form).
International Applicants

Click here for important additional requirements and instructions.

Complete the SlideRoom Portfolio

All applicants must complete the Thornton SlideRoom portfolio by the December 1st deadline.

All Thornton supplemental materials must be uploaded through SlideRoom, which you will access through the link provided in the “Program Materials” section of the USC Graduate Application.

SlideRoom Requirements

SlideRoom Application Portal

A link to the SlideRoom portal is located inside the USC Application for Graduate Admission, in the “Program Materials” Section.

The SlideRoom application fee is $25 (fee waivers are not available). Thornton supplemental materials will not be accepted via mail or email.

The SlideRoom form must be submitted before the USC Application for Graduate Admission (Applicants can start both forms and work on them at the same time). Once SlideRoom is submitted, you will need to enter your SlideRoom confirmation number into the “Questions” tab, also located in the “program materials” section of the USC Graduate application.

Prescreen Recorded Audition

Applicants to programs in Percussion must submit a video recording to be prescreened by the faculty. Only video recordings are acceptable. The results of this prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition. Prescreen results will be sent to applicants via email in late December.

Persons failing to prepare the full prescreen requirements described below will not be permitted to perform a live audition nor offered admission to the program.

For all graduate applicants, the prescreen recording should include the following:

Snare Drum

  • Long Roll-Start pp and gradually crescendo to ff, hold at ff for a few seconds, and gradually diminuendo back to pp for a total duration of 25-30 seconds.
  • Pratt “Drum Corps on Parade from 14 Modern Contest Solos for Snare Drum”– From the beginning to the downbeat of measure 28 (1/4 note = 108)
  • Delecluse “Etude No. 1 from 12 Etudes pour Caisse Claire”. Play from the beginning to the downbeat of measure 46. (1/4 note = 76).

Mallets

Two mallets

  • Any two mallet movements from J.S. Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin or Suites for Solo Cello (no repeats).

Four mallets

  • A 2-3 minute excerpt from a work of your choice.

Timpani

(Please tune exclusively with an A440 tuning fork, and without the use of an electronic tuner)

Record the following excerpts in one take without stopping as if playing a live audition.

  • Beethoven “Symphony no. 9” coda (1st mvt., 18 before S to the end).
  • Hindemith “Symphonic Metamorphases” (2nd mvt., S to T).
  • Tchaikovsky “Symphony no. 4” (1st mvt., 2 before T to 3 before U).
Résumé

The résumé should list musical, professional, and academic experience and is generally 1-2 pages in length.

Repertoire List

This list should include works studied and performed. Etudes, scale studies, arias, art songs, chamber music, solo pieces, and original compositions are all examples of what could be included in this list.

Statement of Purpose (Optional)

Graduate applicants are encouraged to prepare a brief statement of their professional goals, as well as their purpose in applying for the Percussion program. The Statement of Purpose is typically 1-2 pages in length.

Transcripts

All transcripts are due December 1st. Please carefully read the transcript requirements below.

Scans (PDF format) of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended must be uploaded into SlideRoom. Official transcripts are issued by the registrar’s office of each institution. Unofficial transcripts or documents printed from an on-line student system will not be accepted. Failure to upload scans of official transcripts may significantly delay the release of a final admission decision.

Please note that official transcripts must also be submitted separately to the USC Graduate Admission office following the guidelines here.

Letters of Recommendation

1-3 recommendation letters are required from graduate Percussion applicants. Recommendation letters are to be submitted online through the Thornton SlideRoom portal via the “References” section by December 1. We cannot guarantee the review of any material received after December 1.

Doctoral Introductory Video (DMA only)

A “Doctoral Introductory Video” must be submitted through SlideRoom by December 1st.

USC Thornton recognizes that DMA and PhD graduates are expected not only to be elite performers and scholarly experts in their fields, but also exceptional and versatile teachers, inspiring and innovative leaders, and consummate musicians with strong complementary skills. This is a tall order, and it necessitates a well-honed individualized academic portfolio. To this end, USC Thornton requires every Doctoral student to declare, in addition to the major field, an academic field and two elective fields, one of which may be a field outside of music. The purpose of this multidisciplinary approach is to support each student’s personal and artistic development in a way that will be well-aligned with her/his professional goals.

As a reflection of the individualized nature of the USC Thornton Doctoral programs, DMA and PhD applicants are required to submit a single-take, unedited, and preferably unrehearsed video of no more than four minutes, including a brief personal introduction, a description of professional goals, and an explanation of how pursuing a DMA or PhD at USC Thornton will support the pursuit of those goals.

Perform Audition if Invited

The results of the prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition. Notice of the results of the prescreen audition will be sent to applicants via email in late December.

Applicants who are invited to perform a live audition will receive their prescreen decision and audition appointment details in the same email, in late December. Live auditions typically occur in late January and early February. Please do not make travel plans to audition at USC Thornton until you have received confirmation of your audition appointment.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to visit our campus and live audition events can be the ideal opportunity for this kind of visit. We therefore encourage applicants to perform their live auditions in person on the USC campus. Applicants who live more than 100 miles from the USC campus and are unable to travel to Los Angeles for their live audition can indicate their preference for a recorded audition on their Thornton application in SlideRoom. Applicants who live within a 100 mile radius of the USC campus are required to perform their live audition in-person.

Live Audition Requirements

If invited to a live audition, applicants should bring two bound copies of all materials.

Snare Drum

  • Rudimental Solo Etude from Pratt, Wilcoxon or the equivalent.
  • Concert Solo Etude from Cirone Portraits in Rhythm, Mitchell Peters Advanced Studies or Delecluse 12 Etudes, or the equivalent.
  • Knowledge of rudiments and ornaments.
  • Ability to roll at all dynamic levels.
  • Sight-reading.
  • Four standard orchestral excerpts.

Mallets

  • Two-mallet solo of your choice that would be suitable for a recital.
  • Four-mallet Marimba or Vibraphone solo of your choice that would be suitable for a recital.
  • Knowledge of scales and arpeggios.
  • Sight-reading.
  • Three standard orchestral excerpts on Xylophone and 2 on Glockenspiel.

Timpani

  • Etude from Goodman method, Firth, Delecluse, Hochrainer books or the equivalent.
  • Ability to tune accurately.
  • Sight-reading.
  • Four standard orchestral excerpts.
Final Recorded Audition Requirements

As much as possible, please try to record all repertoire with no stops, as if giving a recital. If your recording is too large to upload, you may break it up into 2-3 smaller recordings. Please be sure to precisely label each uploaded recording, and take care to be logical about how you organize your repertoire among the uploads.

Snare Drum

  • Rudimental Solo Etude from Pratt, Wilcoxon or the equivalent.
  • Concert Solo Etude from Cirone Portraits in Rhythm, Mitchell Peters Advanced Studies Delecluse 12 Etudes, or the equivalent.
  • Long buzz roll from pp to ff to pp, 20 seconds long
  • Four standard orchestral excerpts.

Mallets

  • 2 minutes of a Two-mallet solo of your choice that would be suitable for a recital.
  • 2 minutes of a Four-mallet Marimba or Vibraphone solo of your choice that would be suitable for a recital.
  • Three standard orchestral excerpts on Xylophone and 2 on Glockenspiel.

Timpani

  • Four standard orchestral excerpts.
Graduate Academic Admission Examination (DMA only)


DMA applicants to Percussion must take Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination. The examination will be administered via an online platform on January 15, 2022 from 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time. Applicants will receive materials to be reviewed in preparation for the exam about two weeks prior to the exam date. Additional details will be sent in mid-December to those applicants who are required to take the exam.

This written examination reflects the types of critical inquiry with which graduate-level courses at USC Thornton engage. The examination will be assessed by academic faculty as a measure of an applicant’s readiness for the academic rigors and multi-disciplinary structure of Thornton graduate programs. This assessment will be one of several important components considered by the faculty in order to reach a final admission decision for each applicant.

The examination will be administered in two sequential sections:

  1. Conceptual Essay: Applicants will be given an essay prompt about an issue or issues in the music profession today. Applicants will be asked to write a short essay exploring various aspects of the topic(s) introduced by the prompt, responding to specific questions and drawing on their own experience, knowledge, and opinions as appropriate.
  2. Analytical Essay: Applicants will be given a scholarly/literary text on a music-related topic. Applicants will be asked to respond in essay form to a series of analytical questions relating to the text provided. The analytical issues may concern basic music theory (possibly with reference to a short example in musical notation), music history, and/or aesthetics.

It is important to note that Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination is not an examination for which students are generally able to study or prepare. It is not designed to examine factual knowledge, but rather the ability to think analytically and express critical thought in academic language, as this is the type of work that is required for graduate-level academic courses at USC Thornton. While the content of Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination may be drawn from a wide range of scholarly sources, it may be helpful to refer to the following publications by our own faculty:

  • Barrett, Janet & Peter Webster: The Musical Experience: Rethinking Music Teaching and Learning.
  • Brown, Bruce: W. A. Mozart: Così fan tutte (Cambridge Opera Handbook)
  • Demers, Joanna: Anatomy of Thought-Fiction: CHS Report, April 2214
  • Foster, Kenneth J: Performing Arts Presenting: From Theory to Practice
  • Gordon, Stewart: Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas: A Handbook for Performers
  • Nye, Sean. “Sprockets + Autobahn: Kraftwerk Parodies, German Electronic Music, and Retro Dreams in Amerika.” In Dreams of Germany: Musical Imaginaries from the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor. Neil Gregor and Thomas Irvine, eds.
  • Page, Tim: On Music: Views and Reviews
  • Simms, Bryan: The Atonal Music of Arnold Schoenberg, 1908-1923
  • Sloan, Nate. Switched on Pop (blog with Charlie Harding). http://www.switchedonpop.com.