Percussion Studies

Marimba Mallets

The Percussion Program at The University of Montana under the direction of Dr. Robert LedBetter is one of the premier comprehensive programs in the Northwest. Percussionists at The University of Montana are trained to become “total percussionists” through private instruction, numerous masterclasses with guest artists from around the world and outstanding performance opportunities. Each percussion major develops proficiency in the areas of snare drum, mallet keyboard, timpani, orchestral accessories, multiple percussion, drumset and world percussion while also focusing on their own specific areas of expertise. World percussion experiences include: Steel Drums, West African drumming (from Guinea, Mali, Ghana and Senegal), Afro-Cuban percussion, Brazilian, Mexican marimba, Salsa Band and Balinese Gamelan.

Percussionists at The University of Montana have many outstanding performing opportunities including the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Grizzly Marching Band drumline, Symphony Orchestra, four Jazz Bands, several Jazz Combos, Missoula Symphony Orchestra and chamber groups. In addition to these outstanding groups, percussionists also perform to large crowds on the Percussion Ensemble Concerts. There are three Percussion Concerts a year including the World Rhythms Concert which features the World Percussion Ensembles in a yearly rotation.

Each year, the UM Percussion area hosts nationally and internationally renowned percussion clinicians and performers from around the world. UM percussionists have the opportunity to study with these artists in both the master class and private setting. In addition, students are able to perform alongside these great performers on percussion concerts. Some of the artists appearing on campus include:

Drumset                     Peter Erskine, Steve Smith, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Ed Soph,
                                      Jeff Hamilton, Steve Houghton, Gregg Bisonette, Jim White, Chris Smith,
                                      Chris Wabich, Will Kennedy

Vibraphone                Dave Samuels, Ed Saindon, Arther Lipner, Gary Gibson, Terry Gibbs

Marimba                     Casey Cangelosi, Mark Ford, Julie Spencer

Concert Percussion  Gordon Peters, William Kraft, Christopher Deane, Larry Snider,
                                       Jim Atwood, Casey Cangelosi

Snare Drum                John Wooton, Jeff Prosperie, Lalo Davila

Afro-Cuban                 Jesus Diaz, Luis Benneti, Lalo Davila, Cuban All-Stars

Hand Drums               Glen Velez, Yousif Sheronick, Robert Chappell

African                         Idrissa Gueye (Senegal), Edi Gborzi (Ghana), Abdoul Dumbia (Mali),
                                        Oumar Keita (Guinea), Manimou Camara (Guinea)

Steel Drums                Andy Narell, Liam Teague, Gary Gibson, Chris Wabich, John Wooton,

Gamelan                      I Made Lasmawan, I Putu Tangkas,

Group after concert        Christopher Deane

After a concert with Casey Cangelosi, Lalo Davila & Dave Gluck          Christopher Deane rehearsing with Percussion Ensemble

Saindon        Made Lasmawn

Ed Saindon working with UM student Eric Rokohl                                 Our Balinese Gamlen teacher - I Made Lasmawan

Dr. Robert LedBetter

Director of Percussion Studies


Personal Summary

Dr. Robert LedBetter is Professor of Music at The University of Montana where he is Director of Percussion Studies.  He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Percussion Performance from the University of North Texas, a M.M. in Percussion Performance from the University of Akron, and a B.M. in Music Education from Mars Hill College.  He remains active as a performer, clinician, guest conductor and adjudicator throughout the Northwest.

Prior to his appointment at UM in 1990, Dr. LedBetter taught at Eastern New Mexico University, Tarleton State University, Navarro College and held a Teaching Fellowship at the University of North Texas for four years.  He is an active drumset player, percussionist and steel pan player in a variety of performing groups in the area.  One of his groups, Salsa Loca, was featured on the Montana PBS show 11th & Grant and a full video of their show can be viewed at:  In addition, he is Principal Timpanist in the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and a frequent performer on faculty solo and chamber recitals at UM. As a member of the All-Star Trio at the UM Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festivals, Bob had the distinct pleasure to play with some of the top names in the world of jazz including Buddy DeFranco, Arturo Sandoval, Michael & Randy Brecker, Lee Konitz, Clark Terry, Bob Mintzer, Bob Berg, Slide Hampton, Terry Gibbs and David Samuels. He is endorsed by Yamaha Percussion, Zildjian Cymbals, Latin Percussion, Inc. and Innovative Percussion.

The University of Montana Percussion area has developed into one of the strongest and most comprehensive programs in the Northwest.  Top percussion performers and artists from around the world perform regularly as guest on UM percussion concerts and UM students have gone on to prestigious graduate schools and performing careers.  In addition to the in-depth study of concert and jazz percussion, students at UM learn to perform the music of other cultures through performing in the Islanders Steel Band, West African Drum Ensemble, Salsa Band, Brazilian Ensemble, Mexican Marimba band and the Jaya Budaya Balinese Gamelan Orchestra (Indonesian percussion orchestra). Members of the gamelan have traveled to Bali, Indonesia in 2012 and 2016 with the next trip slated for 2020. The University of Montana Islanders Steel Band has released three CD recordings entitled, Summer Songs, Pandemonium and A Steel Band Christmas. Check out our Facebook page  Video recordings of our concerts can be found on youtube channel at







Doctor of Musical Arts in Percussion Performance - University of North Texas

Master of Music in Percussion Performance - University of Akron

Bachelor of Music Education - Mars Hill College

Courses Taught

Applied Percussion

Percussion Ensemble

World Percussion Ensemble

Percussion Techniques

World Music


President, Montana Chapter of Percussive Arts Society