Mason Summer Percussion Academy

Students rehearsing at Percussion summer camp

Part of Summer Music Intensive Week!


Join Mason School of Music faculty Matt Halligan, Shane Nickels, and guest artists for a week of exciting clinics, master classes, and percussion ensemble. Master class topics include rudimental percussion, solo marimba, timpani, snare drum, orchestral percussion, world percussion, drum set, steel drums, accessory instruments, career development, college audition prep, mallet wrapping/maintenance and much more! All participants will perform in the workshop percussion ensemble final concert, as well as ample performance opportunities during the week.



Ages:  13-18 years
Dates:  June 18-22, 2018
Times:  9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. (M-F)
Tuition:  $430 (optional room & board add $640 – see below)
Location:  Mason Fairfax Campus, Performing Arts Building


Register Now


Added Cost: $640

Whether you live near or far, students can add the “Summer Residential Option” and experience a week of campus life, with special evening activities included, while gaining new friendships with other like-minded artistic students. Students are fully supervised all week, with both male and female RA’s in housing. Rooms are double occupancy (linens and wi-fi included), and 3 meals a day are provided (dinner is included on Sunday, and breakfast and lunch are included on Friday). Check in is Sunday, June 17th, and students will check out Friday morning and be ready to depart immediately after the conclusion of the program on Friday afternoon.  After registering for Summer Percussion Academy (but before final checkout/ payment!), search for and add “Summer Residential Option” to your cart – or REGISTER HERE . IMPORTANT: No refunds can be given for the Summer Residential option after April 1, 2018.


An “After Care” option is also available for this program from 4-6 pm for $90/week, located in Mason’s Performing Arts Building and staffed by the Academy’s Summer Staff. After registering for this program (but before final checkout/ payment!), search for and add “After Care” to your cart (be sure to choose the correct week).


Matt Halligan, Percussion Lessons Coordinator/ Instructor: Matt Halligan
Read about Mr. Halligan

Dr. Matthew Halligan is a percussionist in the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area who specializes in orchestral, marching, and contemporary percussion. He holds a Doctorate in Percussion Performance (D.M.A.) from George Mason University, a Masters of Music from Eastern Kentucky University, and a Bachelors of Music Education from University of the Cumberlands. Currently an Adjunct Faculty member at George Mason University, he has taught Applied Percussion Lessons, Percussion Methods courses, and is Assistant Director of the Percussion Ensemble. He is also a current faculty member of Northern Virginia Community College, where he teaches Applied Percussion. From 2008-2011, he was the Director of Marching Percussion and the Percussion Music Arranger for The University of Maryland Marching Band.

Dr. Halligan has performed in the Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia areas with a wide variety of professional orchestras and musical ensembles, including The American Festival Pops Orchestra, The Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, the Capital Wind Symphony, the Virginia Grand Military Band, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Greater Washington, the Music and Arts Orchestra at Providence Presbyterian Church, The National Concert Band of America, and Washington D.C.’s The IN series at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. From 2005-2011, Dr. Halligan served as the front ensemble section leader and as a percussion music arranger with “The Commandant’s Own” Marine Drum & Bugle Corps in Washington, D.C.. In 2006, he was nominated for Marine Musician of the Year at Marine Barracks 8th and I.

Dr. Halligan proudly endorses Sabian Cymbals, Black Swamp Percussion, Innovative Percussion, and is a Yamaha Performing Artist.



Shane Nickels, Percussion lessons Instructor: Shane Nickels
Read about Mr. Nickels

Shane Nickels is a percussionist specializing in rudimental and orchestral percussion. Shane currently serves in The United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps as a snare drum instrumentalist and as Adjunct Faculty at George Mason University. Before winning the job with the fife and drum corps, Shane also performed as a snare drummer in DCI and other professional groups including The Bluecoats, The Troopers, and the Kansas City Chiefs drumline. As an educator, Nickels was the battery instructor for The University of Kansas Marching Jayhawks for two years and has given numerous clinics to private studios, high schools, and colleges throughout the country.

In addition to rudimental percussion Nickels is an orchestral percussionist, having performed with the Debut Orchestra, American Youth Symphony, Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, and the Mariinsky Orchestra. He was also a fellow at Music Academy of the West studying under Mike Werner and Ted Atkatz as well as playing at the Tanglewood Music Festival.

Shane received an undergraduate and masters degree at the University of Kansas under Kevin Bobo and Ji Hye Jung. Nickels then went on to receive an artist diploma at the University of Southern California under Jim Babor and Joe Pereira of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Shane is a Tom Freer and Sabian artist.


No Photo Available Instructor: Domenic Lewis



Dakota Kaylor, Percussion Lessons Teaching Assistant: Dakota Kaylor



John Kilkenny Percussion Lessons Director/ Adviser:  John Kilkenny, Director of Percussion Studies at Mason’s School of Music
Email questions to

Read about Mr. Kilkenny

John Kilkenny enjoys a unique career in the music world as a performer, educator and conductor. Hailed as a “particularly fine timpanist” by the Washington Post, John’s active performance schedule in the 2016-2017 season includes multiple performances of the Michael Daugherty Raise the Roof: Concerto for timpani and wind ensemble, solo and duet recitals, master classes, orchestral performances and multiple guest conducting engagements. In 2014 he participated in the Washington DC premiere of John Luther Adams most recent large scale work, Sila: Breath of the World with the United States Air Force Band ( a co-commission with Lincoln Center). Throughout his career, he has had the privilege to perform with a range of ensembles, including the National Symphony,Washington National Opera and Ballet, American Symphony, National Philharmonic, The Wolf Trap Center for the performing Arts Orchestra, 21st Century Consort, the Washington Bach Consort, National Gallery New Music Ensemble, Verge Ensemble, and many others.
Recent commissions and premieres include multiple works by Alejandro Vinao, a collection of 32 duets for keyboard percussion by Nathan Daughtrey and Brett Dietz, ensemble works by Stephen Gorbos, Donald McCullough, Peter Erskine, Peter Klatzow, Victor Provost, Avner Dorman, John Luther Adams, and Nico Muhly. He as been privileged to share the stage with an array of artists, including Robert van Sice, She e Wu, John Tafoya, Chris Deviney, Jonathan Haas, clarinetist Chad burrow, cellists Joshua Roman and Tobias Werner, flautist Karen Johnson and pianists Garry Hammond, Carlos Rodriguez, Steven Beck and Eric Huebner.

A committed educator, John is Director of Percussion Studies and Assistant Director of Concert Bands at George Mason University. Under his leadership, “Mason Percussion” has become the leading university percussion program in the state of Virginia and a destination school for serious study of classical percussion. In 2011, John founded the Mason Percussion Group, an elite, audition based ensemble committed to commissioning and performing major works for percussion chamber music. Recent and upcoming highlights include collaborations with the Mason School of Dance, two feature performances the 2016 Percussive Arts Society International Convention (New Literature Showcase and Focus Day performance) the 2016 New York State Music Educators Conference, the 2014 Virginia Music Educators Conference, the 2011 Western International Band Conference, 2012 College Music Society Mid Atlantic Conference, the Sitar Arts Center and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Students from the program regularly appear at summer festivals (Aspen, Eastern, Sewanee, Hot Springs, Texas), world class DCI drum corps (The Cadets, Carolina Crown, Santa Clara Vanguard, Raiders) and participate actively in the artistic community of Washington DC.

John is founder and faculty advisor for the George Mason University’s International Teaching Scholars: Costa Rica The International Teaching Scholars (ITS) Costa Rica program is comprised of two key elements – community outreaching an performance. Students selected for participation have the opportunity to perform, teach and connect with their peers at the National Conservatory and in the SiNEM (System for National Music Education) programs in and around San Jose, Costa Rica. The ITS program also allows Mason students to learn real world entrepreneurial skills, participating fully in the conception, planning and implementation of a two week international tour. The program also presents participating students with the opportunity to see first hand how music education can build community, contribute to society and transform lives.

During the Summer months, John is Artist-Faculty of the internationally acclaimed Sewanee Summer Music Festival, where he teaches a select number of private students, coaches chamber music and performs with his faculty colleagues. He is deeply involved in the Music for All organization – first connecting with MFA as an ensemble director in 2003. For the past several years, he has served on the panel for the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival and as a faculty member for the MFA Summer Symposium. He was founder and co-director of the University of Maryland Summer Percussion Workshop (2005-2007) and the Indiana University Percussion Academy (2008-2010). Since 2013 he has been the percussion advisor for the Northern Virginia Youth Winds. He is in demand as a guest conductor at regional and state music festivals and as a clinician for numerous colleges and universities across the country.

John studied conducting with Anthony Maiello and began early percussion training with Jonathan Haas and William RIchards. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Greg Zuber and Daniel Druckman. He completed a Masters Degree at Temple University, where he studied with legendary percussionist Alan Abel. He is sponsored by Vic Firth Mallets, Zildjian Cymbals, Remo Percussion products and is a proud Yamaha Performing Artist.




Thanks to our Mason School of Music Percussion department and summer program sponsors:

Vic Firth LogoYamaha Logo
Remo Logo

Zildjian Logo







To register by phone or request a paper registration form, please call the Academy office at 703-993-9889.



“My favorite part was the steel pans, world percussion and making our mallets.” – Mason Summer Percussion Academy 2017 Participant

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“I really enjoyed the [instructors] that came in and shared their knowledge.” – Mason Summer Percussion Academy 2017 Participant