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Ron Vaughn


Ron Vaughn’s participation in and contributions to the music industry continue today with more energy than ever.  As a player, Ron’s experience goes back to childhood, and through the years has encompassed some of the great musicians and entertainers of our time.  These include Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mathis, Bob Hope, Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, Rita Moreno, Don Mc Clean, Crystal Gale, Amy Grant, Mac Davis, Ray Stevens, and many more. Ron played in the Venezuelan Philharmonic, first as principal percussionist, and then as principal timpanist. Some of the organizations and performing companies Ron has worked with include The National Ballet Company of Cuba, (Santo Domingo), The American Ballet Company, The Children's Television Workshop, Sesame Street, and PBS.

Early on, Ron played drums in the clubs of Kansas City with some of the then established jazz performers like Marylyn May, (Tommy Williams), and jazz pianist Roy Serce.  As an early teenager, Ron played with many of Kansas City's Jazz professionals in the city's night clubs. Local Kansas City drummer Bill Zickos was a great help to Ron in his early days of playing and learning.

From Kansas City Ron went on to the Indiana University School of Music on a performance and composition scholarship where he studied percussion and timpani with George Gaber.  A true world-class teacher and great player, Gaber opened many musical worlds to Ron and others. Ron played in David Baker's jazz bands, and many other remarkable ensembles and opportunities offered by Indiana's powerhouse performance culture. For awhile, Ron also studied with the great Russian violinist Joseph Gingold at Indiana, playing four-mallet classical works on vibraphone, like Bach's Partitas and Sonatas, including the beautiful d minor Chaconne. Gingold once said that, "if Bach had known about the vibraphone, there would be a lot less violin music today". A humorous and great tribute to Joseph Gingold's depth, and his remarkable passion for music, musicians, and performance. During those years Ron was nominated for and awarded Indiana’s Performer’s Certificate, the highest honor offered by the prestigious school of performance. Read more about Indiana University Music . . .

During the years Ron was at Indiana, he was joined by other notable up-and-coming players including Jeff Hamilton, Tom Miller, Norman Weinberg, Peter Erskin, Ross Sears, Kenny Aronoff, John Fedderson, Steve Hanna, Fred Opie, and Bill Molenhoff.   Ron also spent time studying in Cleveland with the legendary timpanist Cloyd Duff of the Cleveland Orchestra.  Ron and Cloyd later teamed up to produce timpani mallets, and wrote a book together on the subject of timpani mallet construction. After several years of alternating formal training with real-world performing tours in and out of the United States, Ron earned his B.A. in music performance from Indiana. Immediately after I.U., Ron began working as a studio musician playing drums and percussion using Nashville as a home base. This is also when Ron really began to build his first company in earnest.    

As an instrument designer and manufacturer, Ron has worked with and/or provided instruments for performers such as Elton John (Ray Cooper), Paul Simon (Ciro Baptista), The Rolling Stones, Michael Bolton Band, The Eagles (Gary Levine), Lisa Minelli, The Beach Boys, The Blue Man Group, Carlos Santana (band), and many others, and most if not all of the worlds major orchestras.  Ron’s catalogue of work also includes design and production for some of today’s most successful and innovative percussion and drum companies, and his instruments can also be heard as a part of many motion picture sound tracks worldwide from the 1970's forward, continuing today.

Ron’s work with the once minimized woodblock was one of his earlier achievements, helping to elevate and expand that instrument to the contemporary concert/studio instrument it is today.  This development was sparked by an early RCA recording session Ron was playing for, an anthology of American music for the Smithsonian. The aspect ratios of Ron’s original single aperture, wide slot woodblock innovations continue to be reflected in woodblock designs today throughout the world from current day manufacturers in both natural and synthetic materials. Ron's early wide-slot woodblock designs can even be found either on display or in the property room of the Percussive Arts Society's museum of great percussion innovations.

As a pioneer in solid shell forming processes, Ron’s innovative and original engineering and production work has created some of the world’s finest solid shells and solid shell fabrication systems over the past several decades.  These solid shells are found in tambourines, hand drums, and snare drum shells and solid tom shells of all sizes and wood species, including exotic woods from every part of the world.  Ron is one of the world’s foremost authorities on solid shell forming, and he continues to push the envelope of sonic possibilities through advanced research engineering for that art form/science today. Read more about Solid Shells . . .

Another signature sound of Ron's are his studio tambourines. Ron's extensive work in metallurgy has produced some of the most effective and popular studio tambourines ever, (metal alloys & recipes), along with unique solid shell jingle slot dimensions and configurations. Development of specific metals and recipes continues to expand the rich collection and history of Ron's sound library today, designed to help the professional musician do his or her work more easily, always aspiring to higher quality levels of sound presence in performance.

Ron Vaughn Percussion is a robust blend of cutting edge technology with a focus on innovation and excellence that has made Ron’s work famous the world over. All of Ron's experience, strategic partners, artists and innovative spirit and energy come together today in Ron Vaughn Percussion.       

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Indiana University Music School