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Percussion Ensembles

West African Music Ensemble

Director: Sowah Mensah 
Non-auditioned ensemble. Hands-on experience in learning to play West African music, one of the great non-western musical traditions that are readily accessible to beginners. Also, insights into function, context, structure, gender roles, politics, instruments, life-cycle rites, genres, musical organizations, traditional musicians, and contemporary popular music. This course is led by Master Drummer Sowah Mensah from Ghana, West Africa, and is open to all students—no musical background needed! Members will have the opportunity to play drums, xylophone, and sing. Register for MUS 5494

  • West African Music Ensemble meeting time: Tuesdays, 3:35 – 5:05 pm
  • Anticipated Spring 2021 Format: In-Person (online-only option available)*

Javanese Gamelan Music Ensemble

Spring '21 semester course.

Director: Lars Christensen
Non-auditioned ensemble. Hands-on experience in learning to play Javanese gamelan music offered every spring, one of the great non-western music-making traditions that are readily accessible to beginners. Open to all students, no musical background needed, and no audition required. Register for MUS 5493.

  • Javanese Gamelan Music Ensemble Meeting Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:00 – 5:30 pm
  • Anticipated Spring 2021 Format: In-Person (online-only option available)*

*Course format will follow directives from University administration. Plans are subject to change.

Percussion Ensemble

Director: Fernando Meza
Audition RequiredThe Percussion Ensemble (MUS 5490-001) is dedicated to exposing students to repertoire written for percussion instruments from the 20th century to today. Its purpose is to offer a forum for the preparation and performance of newly written works, for the discussion and application of contemporary techniques in the percussion arena, and for the development of creative and critical-thinking skills in dealing with issues of multiple-percussion set-ups, mallet and instrument choices, and other issues associated with ensembles that are comprised of percussion instruments.

The Percussion Ensemble aims to:

  • Enhance students' understanding of standard and less common percussion instruments
  • Provide a creative outlet for composition and improvisation
  • Act as a vehicle for musical and cultural exploration
  • Enhance students' understanding of the creative voices in today's compositional arena


The ensemble is open to percussion majors and non-majors. Contact Professor Fernando Meza at mezax001@umn.edu to arrange an audition.

Steel Pan Ensemble 

This class will not be offered in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021.

Hands-on experience in learning to play in a steel pan percussion ensemble. No audition or experience is required.