Michael Schutz is Professor of Music Cognition/Percussion at McMaster University in Canada. Designated University Scholar in recognition of his work bridging music performance and music research, he conducts the Percussion Ensemble, freelances throughout the Southern Ontario, and is active in the Percussive Arts Society.


I have given solo, chamber, and large ensemble performances and appearances across North America (including several PASICs and "Days of Percussion"). I freelance in Southern Ontario, and previously with central Virginia ensembles such as the Roanoke Symphony and Opera on the James.


My research is regularly discussed in studios and classrooms, and featured in multiple textbooks. Topics include the strategic use of visual information in performance, exploring how movement improves listening, and using percussive sounds to improve medical devices.


Working with hundreds of percussionists at McMaster University, Longwood University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Penn State University over the past two decades now informs my work mentoring students through the Canadian Percussion Network.


The Canadian Percussion Network connects percussionists from across the country to enhance percussion pedagogy, performance, and research. Born out of the need to exchange ideas on percussion pedagogy at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I co-founded this organization with my colleague, Fabrice Marandola (McGill University). Our group now contains over 350 members connected through a combination of virtual and in-person events.

I explore questions arising from my playing and teaching through my research group-the MAPLE Lab.  My  interdisciplinary team explores fundamental questions about how music “works” through several projects.  Many of our findings hold important implications for percussionists.

Percussion Ensemble

I began directing the Percussion Ensemble upon arrival at McMaster, which brings together students (as well as staff members) from across campus.  It order to provide the broadest possible training, our repertoire blends classics and new works for percussion ensemble with transcriptions of well known compositions for other instruments. We regularly perform both on and off campus concerts, such as the Ontario Day of Percussion events.     


I have been teaching at the university level for over twenty years, since my appointment as Director of Percussion Studies at Longwood University (Farmville, VA). During my five years in Virginia, I directed all aspects of the percussion program (including applied lessons and the percussion ensemble), and taught percussion at the Virginia Commonwealth University (2007-09).  

I have directed the percussion ensemble at McMaster University since 2009, and coached numerous percussion ensembles at the Honors Music Institute (Pennsylvania).

When my schedule permits, I also enjoy giving master classes, teaching privately, and mentoring percussion students from across Canada through the Canadian Percussion Network. 


During a lesson in graduate school, Michael Burritt and I began a lively discussion about the role of gestures in solo marimba playing. From that conversation I began wondering whether “ancillary gestures” (movements not directly related to sound production) actually play a role in musical performances.

In exploring that practical question, I became fascinated with the power of research (and music cognition in particular), to answer questions vital to music performance and pedagogy. I feel fortunate that in addition to performing, I have the opportunity to conduct projects inspired by performance-related questions.

These include understanding how watching a musician play affects the way music “sounds,” ways in which moving to the beat improves our rhythmic abilities, how composers convey emotional messages, and what really happens when attempting to execute phases in Steve Reich’s Drumming. 


Performing solo and chamber works for percussion is what drew me into music as a profession.  I regularly give lecture-recitals combining research and performance at universities across North America, and enjoy freelancing in Southern Ontario whenever possible.  While in Virginia I performed regularly with many Central Virginia ensembles; ranging from the Roanoke Symphony and Lynchburg Symphony to Opera on the James and the Virginia Consort.