Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Interdisciplinary Program


Stuart Marrs

Second Committee Member

John Maddaus

Third Committee Member

Shihfen Tu

Additional Committee Members

Laura Artesani

Craig De Wilde


In Chinese percussion instruction, there is an almost singular focus on folk repertoire. Instruction typically involves a three-step process: rote transmission from the teacher, memorization by the student, and reinforcement through the observation of live performances. Because this learning process is atypical of Western percussion studios, it is unsurprising that Western-trained percussionists often lack the knowledge to perform Chinese folk repertoire with appropriate instrument choice, sound, style, and technique. This study investigates socio-political impacts on the greater Chinese educational system, analyzes and contrasts percussion curricula of American tertiary institutions with their Chinese counterparts, reveals insights about contemporary Chinese percussion instruction via interviews with prominent Chinese Percussion Specialists, and provides an extensive set of resources intended to fill gaps in knowledge for the Western-trained percussionist. Research reveals that Chinese percussion teachers prioritize performance skills (e.g., physical technique and memorization of repertoire) over extra-musical skills (e.g., using the metronome to autonomously develop efficient, personalized practice techniques), with little evidence of Western general learning strategies in the curricula. Western- trained musicians can combine prior percussion knowledge with established Chinese percussion traditions to improve Chinese folk percussion interpretations. An entire section of the study breaks these critical traditions down into an extensive set of charts, photographs, instrument descriptions (including construction, nomenclature, relative ranges, appropriate substitutions, and musical context), and detailed explanations of notational systems and vocables (e.g., rote learning and luo gu jing), revealing a path toward better-informed Chinese percussion performance practice. Keywords: American/Western percussion pedagogy, Chinese folk music, Chinese instruction, Chinese percussion pedagogy, Confucian philosophy, learning strategies, luo gu jing, moral education, music notation, music education, musical instruments, rote learning, vocables

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