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Thomas Marko

Director of Jazz Studies
School of Music
Centennial East - CE 12
  • About
  • Education
  • Awards & Honors
  • Research


Tom Marko is a drum set player and composer currently serving as Director of Jazz Studies at Illinois State University in Normal, IL where he directs two jazz big bands, coordinates jazz combos and teaches improvisation, and private drum set lessons. Dr. Marko is also the coordinator of ISU’s annual Jazz Festival that has featured guest artists such as Chuck Owen, Jack Wilkins, Dennis Mackrel, Randy Brecker, Dick Oatts, Dave Pietro, Marshall Gilkes, Wayne Bergeron, Ernie Watts, Marvin Stamm, Steve Wiest, Eric Marienthal and many more. Very active in central Illinois and the mid-West as a performer and adjudicator, Marko can often be heard with "Kevin Hart and the Vibe Tribe," "The Brazilionaires," "The Todd Kelly Quintet," "David Hoffman," "The Travis Wesley Trio," and others. He holds the Bachelor of Music degree in percussion performance from Washington State University, the Master of Music degree in jazz performance from the University of South Florida and the Doctor of Arts degree in theory and composition from the University of Northern Colorado, where he played drums in the award winning "UNC Jazz Lab Band I," and "Combo I." He has studied percussion and drum set with David Jarvis, Dave Hardman, David Via, Gray Barrier and Steve Davis. He has also studied theory and improvisation with Greg Yasinitsky and Jack Wilkins and jazz composition and arranging with Chuck Owen. In the summer of 2001 Tom was one of twenty-three students from across the U.S. selected to attend "Jazz Aspen Snowmass" in Aspen, Colorado under the artistic direction of Christian McBride. His drum set playing can be heard on Algo Diferente (2015) by The Brazilionaires, The Travis Wesley Trio’s recent recordings Cycle by Three (playing on Pandora Internet Radio) and Natural Diversion (2012), The David Hoffman Sextet Live (2004), Alive XVII: For the Last Time (2000) by UNC Jazz Lab Band I, Greenwich Blue’s When Our Time Comes (1997), and Fireshaker (1997) by The Dan McMillion Groovin’ High Big Band. Marko’s first album as a leader, “Inner Light” featuring ten of his original compositions and special guest Scott Wendholt on trumpet was released on Summit Records in 2016 and garnered significant national and international radio airplay.

Current Courses

138.001Applied Music (Jazz)

238.001Applied Music (Jazz)

438.001Applied Music: Jazz

139.001Ensemble (Jazz)

139.002Ensemble (Jazz)

239.001Ensemble (Jazz)

239.002Ensemble (Jazz)

439.001Ensemble: Jazz

439.002Ensemble: Jazz

139.002Jazz Combo

239.002Jazz Combo

439.002Jazz Combo

218.001Jazz Improvisation I

157.001History Of Jazz

Teaching Interests & Areas

Jazz big band, jazz combo, jazz drum set, jazz theory, jazz improvisation, jazz composition and arranging

Research Interests & Areas

Jazz Drum Set performance
Jazz composition and
Arranging for various instrumental groups from combos to full orchestra
Commercial music production

DA Theory and Composition

University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, CO

MM Jazz Performance

University of South Florida
Tampa, FL

BM Percussion Performance

Washington State University
Pullman, WA

"Second Place, Group 2, Worship"

Write about Jesus

Nomination for "Outstanding Creativity Award"

School of Music

Creative Works/Broadcast Media


Marko, T. recorded drum set performance. Watch the Sky Fall by Luke Schofield and the Waking Light. Independent single release (2022)


Jazz Education. Jazz Education. Millikin University. (2021)