A.J. Merlino, D.M.A. – Albright College

A.J. Merlino, D.M.A.

A.J. Merlino, D.M.A.

Associate Dean | Director of Music Industry Studies | Assistant Professor of Music


B.A., Music, Kutztown University
M.M., Percussion Performance, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
D.M.A., Applied Percussion, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Hailed as “one of New York’s most exciting musicians…” A.J. Merlino’s versatility has made him a highly sought after percussionist and educator. As a touring musician, he has played in Scotland, Croatia, Greece, Thailand, Australia, and Argentina. He has also presented masterclasses at various seminars and colleges in the United States, Argentina, Australia, and Canada. While residing in Las Vegas, he performed on the Las Vegas strip with popular music artists such as Jay-Z, Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers, Eric Marienthal, and Cee Lo Green.

Merlino has worked as music director, composer, performer, booking agent, and event producer for many projects held at The Venetian, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, as well as the production show Resurrecting Sin City, which premiered in Las Vegas and traveled to Adelaide, Australia.

A.J. Merlino was a 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2022 quarterfinalist for the GRAMMY Foundation’s Music Educator Award for his work as the founder, president, and music director of the 501(c)(3) non-profit, Reading Samba School. Merlino is currently an Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Music Industry Studies at Albright College.

Areas of Expertise

  • Percussion Performance
  • Music Business
  • Entertainment Management
  • Music Composition/Arranging

Artistic Production

Select Recordings

Select Performances

  • Acoustic Spill, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Supernova IIb, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • University of Adelaide Drum & Percussion Festival, Adelaide, Australia
  • Cirque du Soleil’s One Night for One Drop, Bellagio, Las Vegas
  • Adelaide Fringe Festival, Adelaide, Australia
  • Delta Rae, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
  • International Percussion Festival, Cordoba, Argentina
  • 2012 Billboard Music Awards, Cee Lo Green, Las Vegas
  • Resurrecting Sin City, Las Vegas and Adelaide, Australia
  • Jay-Z, Tao, Las Vegas
  • Zivkovic International Summer Academy (ZISAMP), Las Vegas
  • IBM Orchestra, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
  • Rebels in Paris, Cimbalom Soloist with Vox Ama Deus Ensemble, Philadelphia
  • Moravian Wind Symphony, Cimbalom Soloist, Moravian, PA
  • Reading Symphony Orchestra, Cimbalom Soloist, Reading, PA
  • IPEW Performer, Bjelovar, Croatia
  • CMS Festival, Bangkok, Thailand

Courses Taught

  • First Year Seminar: History of the Recording Industry
  • Introduction to World Music
  • The Music Business: Introduction
  • Entertainment Marketing
  • Artist Management
  • Demo to Distribution
  • Event Promotion
  • Entertainment Law & Ethics
  • Senior Seminar: Music Industry Studies

Professional Activities

  • Faculty Representative, Lion Records
  • Faculty Advisor, Philadelphia Futures
  • Coordinator/Host, Albright College Music Business Forum
  • Education Committee Member, Berks JazzFest
  • Arts Advisory Board Member, South Central PaARTners

Corporate Endorsements

  • Yamaha Percussion
  • Paiste Cymbals
  • Meinl Percussion
  • Remo Drumheads
  • Innovative Percussion
  • DrumTacs

Awards and Grants

  • Grammy Foundation, Music Educator Award Nomination
  • Album of the Year (Funk/Fusion/Jam) Independent Music Award
  • Reading Musical Foundation Special Projects Grant
  • Project Stream Berks Arts Council Grant
  • Asbury Music Awards, Top Multi-Instrumentalist Nomination
  • Kutztown University Professional Development Travel Grant
Learn more about A.J. Merlino, D.M.A. at http://www.ajmerlino.com/