Spring 2024 – On Sabbatical

D. Thomas Toner is a Professor in the Department of Music at the University of Vermont, where he conducts the Concert Band and Percussion Ensemble, teaches percussion, and was Chair of the Department for over ten years.  Previously on the faculties of SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Plattsburgh, and the Summer Session of the Eastman School of Music, Dr. Toner was awarded both the Doctor of Musical Arts degree and the Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, a Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. He has studied percussion with John Beck (Eastman School of Music), Gordon Gottlieb (Yale School of Music), Peter Tanner (University of Massachusetts), Arthur Press (Boston Symphony), Glen Velez (Steve Reich Ensemble), Leigh Howard Stevens (marimba virtuoso), Doug Howard (Dallas Symphony), and Pascal Younge (Ghana, West Africa).

Creative Work

As a percussionist, Dr. Toner's eclectic career has included performances with the Clifford Ball Orchestra (for the rock band Phish), before Princess Grace and Princess Caroline of Monaco, at a world music festival in Bali, Indonesia, and with a native troupe in a performance in a torrential lightning storm in Ghana, West Africa.  A frequent substitute percussionist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra while studying at Eastman, he has also appeared with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Massachusetts Chamber Players, the Bermuda Philharmonic, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the New Hampshire Music Festival, and many other ensembles in the northeast. Dr. Toner has been a featured artist on faculty recitals at the University of Massachusetts as well as Dartmouth, Williams, and Smith colleges, and appeared as a guest soloist with the Eastman Percussion Ensemble.  He has also performed at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) National Convention and the Northeast Conference of the College Music Society.  Dr. Toner has traveled to China three times, presenting recitals and masterclasses at the Inner Mongolian Arts College in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.

Dr. Toner joined the Vermont Symphony Orchestra at the age of 18 and became Principal Percussionist a few years later.  He has performed a wide variety of music with the VSO, including most of the standard orchestral repertoire, unusual 20th Century pieces (such as the solo snare drum part in Carl Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto with soloist Richard Stoltzman), and "Pops" music with the likes of Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Tish Hinojosa (where he played drum set, congas, and hand drums).  Dr. Toner was the featured soloist in David Gunn's "A Tangoed Web" (commissioned by the orchestra for a “Made in Vermont” state-wide tour).  He appears on recordings with the Vermont Symphony, the Robert DeCormier Ensemble, and on two solo recordings of Trey Anastasio. In addition, he is a featured percussionist on numerous audio and video recordings by the vocal group Counterpoint, conducted by the late Robert DeCormier, and has been heard with that group on National Public Radio's "Performance Today".  Dr. Toner is an endorser of Grover Pro Percussion.

An active guest conductor, Dr. Toner is one of the few people to have conducted the Vermont All-State Band, the Vermont All-State Orchestra, and all six of the District Wind Ensembles in Vermont (most of them multiple times).  In addition to his work in Vermont, he has conducted and adjudicated in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, has been a judge since the inception of the ENKOR International Music Competition, and has conducted the New Hampshire All-State Percussion Ensemble three times. Dr. Toner has also appeared as guest conductor of the Yale Concert Band, the SUNY-Fredonia Percussion Ensemble, the Green Mountain Mahler Festival Orchestra, and was a co-presenter at the Eastern Conference of the College Band Directors National Association. For nine years he was Director of the Northeast Instrumental Music Festival, in Lake Placid, New York. Dr. Toner is a member of the Percussive Arts Society, the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, the College Band Director's National Association, and the American Federation of Musicians, all of which he has served as an officer at the state level.

In the News:

Musical Connections and Personal Narratives

D. Thomas Toner Performs "Sleep" in Virtual Marimba Choir

Music for Days Like This 

D. Thomas Toner

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Concert Band, percussion, world music


  • D.M.A. (Percussion), Eastman School of Music
  • Performer's Certificate (Percussion), Eastman School of Music
  • Artist diploma (Percussion), Yale School of Music
  • M. M. (Percussion), Yale School of Music
  • B. Mus. (Percussion), University of Massachusetts/Amherst
  • additional study in Ghana, West Africa and Bali, Indonesia


  • (802) 656-7774
Office Location:

Southwick 303

Courses Taught

MUL Q - Applied Lessons, percussion

MU 079 - Percussion Techniques

MU 121 - Concert Band