Southern Utah University’s percussion students place in state championship

Marissa Brown competing at the Utah Day of Percussion, undated. | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University’s Percussion students recently participated in various competitive events for the “Utah Day of Percussion,” an annual tradition for those students from the music department.

“Our percussion program continues to be a huge and powerful presence against very strong programs like the University of Utah and BYU, among others,” Dr. Lynn Vartan, director of percussion at SUU, said.

Students worked hard to become a percussion program of high caliber and compete against schools of all sizes and skill levels. SUU’s Jordan Nielsen won the State Championship title in the instrument of Timpani in the college category. Marissa Brown placed third in Timpani in the state and Tylor Williams placed third in Marimba in the state.

Nielsen, a junior percussion performance major from Price, Utah, said, “Preparing for this competition meant a lot of personal practice and instruction from Dr. Vartan. There are a large variety of new and different musical pieces.”

Other students worked just as hard prior to the competition.

Brown, a senior music major from Farmington, said:

I picked a very hard piece a few years ago that I wanted to learn in the future. I couldn’t handle it until this semester and it is my last semester of school. I started working on this piece in January to get ready for the competition and had to get very creative since my piece calls for some interesting noises such as rolling with a superball mallet, and dropping a cymbal on the ground. Preparing for the competition was a little tricky to practice for since I couldn’t take the big drums home to practice during spring break. But I contacted a local high school in my area back home and they worked with me on getting some practice times and allowing me to come use instruments in their school.

“For those interested in percussion I would invite you to join the SUU Percussion Ensemble,” Brown added. “You can be involved no matter your level of experience or your major. It even counts as a half credit class. If you stick to it like I did, you can eventually play the pieces you always dreamed of playing.”

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