Percussion Department


Through a comprehensive approach involving pitched and unpitched instruments,

the Percussion Department seeks to develop the entire scope of musicianship through tempo, beat, and rhythm. Students are encouraged to join a group as well as improve their technique with private lessons.

Check out our Percussion Fun class, part of the Music Matters after-school enrichment program!

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"Music is the shorthand of emotion."

- Leo Tolstoy


fall semester beginning september 9, 2019

Percussion Classes


West African Drumming Ongoing

Music Conservatory of Sandpoint is offering this weekly class, Tuesdays at 5:45pm, taught by MCS percussion teacher Ali Thomas. An all levels, traditional style, West African drum class. Open to the public, ages 12 and up, no experience necessary. Newcomers and beginners start at 5:45pm. Suggested donation $5 to $15 per class.  Drop-in students welcome. A portion of every dollar goes to the MCS scholarship fund.


introduction to JAZZ

Learn the fundamentals of improvisation, study the history of Jazz, our country's "Classical Music", get to know the Jazz Greats and learn the theory and notation used for playing and understanding Jazz music. This introductory course is a prerequisite for joining the MCS Jazz Ensemble, a performance oriented group which competes at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival each year.

Thursdays 5:15pm - 6:15pm                
Venue: Music Conservatory of Sandpoint


This performance-oriented small group is open to students playing any instrument or singing at a fairly competent level. The group plays Jazz standards in a combo setting from many styles of Jazz including Bebop, Cool, Swing, and Latin. Audition is required as well as the prerequisite "Introduction to Jazz" class, which can be taken in conjunction with this class. Goals for the group are rehearsing Jazz standards to a performance level with several local and regional performances throughout the year including the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

Tuesdays 5:15pm - 6:15pm                
Venue: Music Conservatory of Sandpoint
Audition required • Recommended for Ages 13+



Beginning students perform together and practice djembe, cymbals, tambourine, triangle and simple mallet playing in an ensemble setting. Emphasis on rhythm and following conductor cues.  

Farmin-Stidwell Elementary, Kootenai Elementary

Youth Orchestra

The MCS Youth Orchestra is an inclusive program designed to accommodate beginning through advanced students. Students are given the opportunity to take in the joy and fun of making music together, to gain confidence performing with others, and experience how to play an important role as part of a group.  Practice and performance pieces include a mixture of classical, contemporary, pop and jazz music. Recommended for 4th grade and older.

Music Conservatory of Sandpoint



Upcoming Events From the Percussion Department

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Meet The Instructor 


Ali Thomas-Department Head, Percussion

Ali has taught West African drumming for 19 years, and drum kit for 4, to children and adults of all ages, in large groups of up to 50 people, and one-on-one private lessons. Ali has deep musical roots, she began her training at the young age of 4, singing in the family band. After dabbling in piano, flute, tenor sax, bass guitar and guitar, Ali found her true passion in West African style drumming, which lead to drum kit and other percussion. She has been to Guinea, West Africa three times to study djembe drumming. Ali has also brought drum masters, from the tradition, to the United States, to collaboratively host international workshops. These workshops were part of her work as Assistant Director of Tam Tam Mandingue, an international school of West African drumming. Ali’s mission is to teach the joy of percussion and rhythmic success to as many people as possible, whether through hand drumming, kit drumming, or in orchestra in the percussion section.