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Orlando's Home Studo

Sykesville, MD 21784 (map)

Lessons Offered

Drums, Music Theory, Percussion

Where are Lessons Offered

In Teacher Studio

In Student Home

About Me


Raised in the traditions of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican music, Orlando Cotto learned to play the conga drums when he was just five years old. He has since developed a successful career as a marimbist and percussionist. As a student, Orlando has the dual distinction as the first marimbist to receive the Artist Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and to win the Yale Gordon Concerto Competition. He was also recognized as the most outstanding student while studying at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. For his achievements is music, the Mayor of his hometown Cayey has honored him as a distinguished resident.

According to the San Juan Star, Orlando is "an artist of musical sensitivity and accomplished technique." As a solo marimbist, Orlando unites his solid classical training and Latin American background to create a powerful combination of rhythm and music previously uncharted in the marimba world. He regularly performs at international festivals, including Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and conducts workshops and master classes in colleges and universities throughout the United States. He has also been invited to perform in Asia, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and Central American.

A sought-after performing and recording artist, Orlando has collaborated with music legends of this generation, including Darin Atwater, Andy Gonzalez, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Edwin Colón Zayas. On the congas, Latin Beat magazine calls Orlando’s “solid conga drumming . . . a percussive pillar.” He has been the conguero of Panoramic, a fusion band lead by pan virtuoso Liam Teague.

His first solo marimba recording Caribeños – Latin American Music for the Marimba received critical and popular acclaim. Percussive Notes praised it: “The immediacy and vitality of the music on [Caribeños] impresses the listener from the very first selection.” His subsequent recordings A Little Prayer paid tribute to his classical training whereas Wild Hands demonstrated an amalgamation of his creativity, classical training and Latin roots. Orlando’s newest CD Landmark - Afro-Cuban Music for the Marimba features artist Michael Spiro and Juan Alamo. Orlando is a performing artist endorsed by Yamaha, Pro-Mark, Sabian and Latin Percussion. He is a faculty member at University of Delaware.

My Musical Education Background


Artist Diploma in Marimba, 1997
Peabody Conservatory of Music, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Graduate studies in Marimba and Percussion, 1990 – 1993
Indiana University, Bloomington

Bachelor of Arts in Music, Cum Laude, 1990
Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, San Juan

School of Music, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
Assistant Professor Fall 2001 – Spring 2004

Created course “Afro-Caribbean Percussion” for percussion major and non-major students. Co-directed NIU Percussion Ensemble. Taught 11 hours of private lessons weekly to undergraduate and graduate percussion students, focusing on two- and four-mallet technique, standard marimba literature, and drumset technique. Advised and prepared students for junior and senior solo recitals. Served on departmental admissions committee. Served on college- and university-level administrative committees. Received Program Development Grant in 2002.

Director, Northern Illinois University Latin Jazz Ensemble Fall 2002 – Spring 2004

Founded and directed NIU Latin Jazz Ensemble which was featured as a showcase performance at Illinois Music Educators Convention in 2004

University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Adjunct Faculty

Co-directed Percussion Ensemble & taught individual lessons

Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Adjunct Faculty

Taught beginning-level percussion to major and non-major students. Prepared course and exam materials.

Faculty, Nathan Carter School of Music, of New Shiloh Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD, Fall 2004 – present

Faculty, Birch Creek Music Performing Center, Egg Harbor, WI, Summer 2001 – present

Guest Artist, International Rhythm Festival, MD,
Visiting Artist, Arts Excel program, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Genres and Subjects Taught

Private and group lessons

Classical Percussion


Afro-Cuban percussion and Drum set

World percussion

Lesson Rates

Fee for lessons are:

$30.00 for half hour

$60.00 for one hour

Fee for group lessons are:

3 to 4 students one hour $100 this rate is great for small group of students that wants to work on Afro-Cuban ensemble styles.

Ages / Skill Levels Taught

From 6 to 75

I believe that it is never to late to learn how to play any musical instrument. My youngest student is 5 and my oldest is 73 and learning thing rhythms every week.

My Certifications and Awards

HONORS & AWARDS (selected)
Outstanding Individual Artist Award. Maryland State Arts Council. 2000
Career Development Grant, Peabody Conservatory of Music, 1998
First Prize, Yale Gordon Concerto Competition, Peabody Conservatory of Music, 1995

RECORDINGS (selected)
Orlando Cotto, Landmark, Afro Cubans music for the Marimba, 2010
Liam Teague, Panoramic, 2005
Orlando Cotto, Wild Hands. 2005

My Musical Influences

Service Area

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