The Hartt School


Our philosophy regarding percussion education is to be as all-inclusive as possible. As a Hartt student, you will typically study solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire, as well as improvisation, drum-set, and percussion instruments from other cultures (particularly from Africa, the Middle East, Cuba, Brazil, and Trinidad). We routinely hire guest teachers with focused areas of expertise in order to compliment our more traditional offerings. As a result, Hartt percussion alumni have been very successful in finding a variety of jobs throughout the country.

With an average enrollment of about 15 students, the Hartt percussion program fosters a healthy exchange of ideas and perspectives among the students and allows for personalized attention from the percussion faculty. The teaching/learning experience extends beyond the boundaries of applied lessons, as the Hartt percussion faculty employs an "open door" policy with the students--we are here to serve you.

The Hartt percussion program enjoys a rich tradition of excellence and diversity dating back more than fifty years, distinguishing The Hartt School as having one of the first percussion programs and percussion ensembles in the country. Founded and directed by Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame member Alexander Lepak from 1947-91, the Hartt percussion program has been directed by Benjamin Toth since 1992.

Admission and Audition Requirements

Please see specific instrument audition requirements by degree below. Learn more about the undergraduate or graduate application process, in-person audition dates, and deadlines.


  • Snare Drum: Prepared solo or étude, demonstrate orchestral long roll, and sight-reading
  • Mallet Keyboard Instruments: Prepared solo and/or étude, demonstrate scales, and sight-reading
  • Timpani: Prepared solo or étude, and/or orchestral excerpts, demonstrate tuning ability

*Orchestral excerpts and prepared drum-set demonstrations or solos, hand-drumming demonstrations, multiple-percussion solos or studies are not required, but may be presented.

Please note: We have students who come to Hartt from across the United States and around the world. That is one of the things that makes a Hartt education so special. Some students are accepted and arrive having had extensive private study on their instruments. Others have had less experience (and perhaps less conventional training), but their natural abilities and great love of music allow them to make remarkable strides in a short period of time because of the expertise of our faculty.

Our requirements are sometimes quite specific to give applicants a sense of where they should be to enter a high-level conservatory environment. However, we encourage applicants to reach out to our faculty members to discuss audition repertoire. It may be that what you have prepared will suffice. Our primary goal is to identify potential, and if we feel that the potential is there, it is then our responsibility to provide each and every student with the tools to be successful.

If you would like to be in touch with a member of the faculty to discuss your audition repertoire, please write to

  • Snare Drum: [1] prepared solo or étude; [2] Demonstrate orchestral long roll; [3] sight-reading
  • Mallet Keyboard Instruments: [1] prepared solo and/or étude with four-mallets; [2] prepared solo and/or étude with two-mallets ; [3] Sight-reading
  • Timpani: [1] prepared solo or étude, and/or orchestral excerpts; [2] Demonstrate tuning ability
  • Orchestral Excerpts: recommended
  • Prepared drum-set demonstrations or solos; hand-drumming demonstrations; and multiple-percussion solos or studies are not required, but may be presented.

Facilities and Equipment

  • Two teaching studios: These studios house the percussion faculty's extensive instrument, mallet, and music collection -- all of which are used as a resource for the Hartt percussion students.
  • Seven percussion practice rooms: Housing a large inventory of well-maintained percussion instruments.
  • Personal practice rooms: In addition to the rooms mentioned above, each percussion student is assigned a secure, personal practice room to be shared with one or two other percussionists.

Ben Toth

Professor of Percussion,

Benjamin Toth, Professor of Percussion at The Hartt School, University of Hartford, has presented concerts, radio and television broadcasts, master classes, and children’s programs in many countries, spanning six continents.  His performances have been described as “tour de force” (Gramophone), “riveting” (New York Times), “dazzling” (Beaumont Enterprise), “powerful” (Louisville Courier-Journal), “primal” (Die Rheinpfalz), “enchanting” (Kornwestheimer Zeitung), “beautiful and unusual” (Washington Post), “passionate” (Westfalen Blatt), “absolutely precise” (Marburger Neue Zeitung), “hugely virtuosic” (BBC magazine), “awe-inspiring” (Saginaw News), and “breathtaking” (Cleveland Plain Dealer).


Percussion Faculty

Benjamin Toth
Professor of Percussion; Chair of Percussion; HCD Percussion Department Head
HCD Music
Instrumental Studies

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Rogerio Boccato
Percussion Faculty
Instrumental Studies

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Joe Galeota
Percussion Faculty
Instrumental Studies

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Ted Piltzecker
Percussion Faculty
Instrumental Studies

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Shane Shanahan
Percussion Faculty
Instrumental Studies

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Christopher Natale

Percussion Performance, 2020

Christopher Natale had the chance to shadow Hartt alumnus and 2018 Hartt Alumni Award Winner Shane Shanahan in the pit for Mean Girls Broadway. Learn More about Chris.

This is the biggest honor I’ve had so far pertaining to my musical experiences, and wouldn’t be possible if not for the contacts I’ve made at Hartt.

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