Nancy Zeltsman

Professor of Percussion
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Nancy Zeltsman joined the Conservatory faculty in 1993 and teaches marimba performance and chamber music. Additionally, she has taught at Berklee College of Music since 1993.

Zeltsman has premiered over 125 solo and chamber marimba works including pieces by Michael Tilson Thomas, Paul Simon, Gunther Schuller, Louis Andriessen, Carla Bley, Lyle Mays and Steven Mackey. She has performed throughout the United States and Europe and in Mexico, Brazil, China, and Japan as a soloist and chamber musician. Her duo, Marimolin, with fellow faculty member violinist Sharan Leventhal was very active between 1985 to 1996, and has performed together occasionally since 2015. Zeltsman released three CDs with Marimolin (the first of which, Marimolin, was nominated for a Grammy in the chamber music category), three solo CDs, and she was the soloist in William Thomas McKinley’s marimba concerto recorded by Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Her second CD with Jack Van Geem was released by Bridge Records in 2020: American Gifts for Marimba Duo featuring Michael Tilson Thomas’s Island Music (written for Zeltsman and Van Geem and performed with the San Francisco Symphony percussion section) along with music of Roger Sessions, Irving Fine, and Joseph Brackett.

Zeltsman's method book, Four-Mallet Marimba Playing: A Musical Approach for All Levels (Hal Leonard Corporation, now in its 7th edition) is widely used. Over 600 marimba-playing participants attended Zeltsman Marimba Festival events between 2001 and 2018. As artistic director, Zeltsman organized 14 two-week festivals at different venues across the U.S. and in Amsterdam, and performed and taught at ZMF On Tour events in China, Japan, Luxembourg, and Boston. An offshoot project (coordinated with Conservatory alumnus Shawn Michalek), funded by over 200 contributors, fostered 24 marimba solos published as Intermediate Masterworks for Marimba (C.F. Peters Corporation), and was recorded by eight marimbists (Bridge Records double-CD). Since 2013, she has been a regular guest professor of marimba at Conservatorium van Amsterdam in the Netherlands where she has taught one or two weeks per year.

Zeltsman served four times as a member of the jury for the biennial Tromp Percussion Competition in Eindhoven, the Netherlands (2010–2016). In 2019, she was a jury member for the International Artist Competition hosted by Southern California Marimba (founded and directed by BCB alumna Christina Cheon), and the Percussive Arts Society’s marimba composition contest. Zeltsman is a Pearl/Adams Artist who worked with Adams Musical Instruments to design their Alpha Z marimba frame. Her popular line of signature mallets is available from Encore Mallets.

Zeltsman earned a B.M. in percussion from New England Conservatory of Music where she studied with Vic Firth. She was a percussion fellow at Tanglewood Music Center in 1978.

Leo Blanco: La Resistencia, performed by Marimolin

Steven Snowden: Through the Looking Glass, performed by Marimolin & Duane Lee Holland, Jr.


In Their Own Words

My goal as a teacher is to help each student become his or her best self: a unique, individual artist/performer. I believe this is achievable through broad general knowledge (context), thoughtful repertoire choices, and developing one's own capacity for musical expression.