RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • PAS Profile : Past-President John H. Beck

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Mar 07, 2020

    John H Beck HeadshotJohn H. Beck is Professor Emeritus of Percussion at the Eastman School of Music and retired timpanist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He is active throughout the United States, Europe, and South America as a performer, composer, clinician, and conductor. He is the editor of Encyclopedia of Percussionpublished by Routledge, has published numerous articles in professional journals, and has written many solos, percussion ensembles, and instruction books for percussion. The proceeds from his book Percussion Matters, Life at the Eastman School of Musicgo to the John Beck Percussion Scholarship Fund. He was inducted into the PAS Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2016, he received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the College of Performing Arts, Rowan University, N.J. and was inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame.

    Rhythm! SceneHow did you get started in percussion?
    John H. Beck: My inspiration came from the local fife and drum corp in my hometown. I took lessons and then joined the high school band when I was 10 years old.

    R!S:What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
    JHB: Snare drum was my favorite instrument along with drum set. But when I came to the Eastman School of Music, I got interested in all percussion.

    R!S:Who was your percussion idol growing up?
    JHB: Gene Krupa; he was the idol of all us teenagers in the ’40s.

    R!S:What was one of your most memorable performances as a student percussionist?
    JHB: Playing the Milhaud “Concerto for Orchestra and Percussion.”

    R!S:Who were key or memorable teachers in your musical education?
    JHB: My first teacher was the house painter in my hometown who played in the fife and drum corps. My first real drum teacher was Art Harbert in Pittsburgh, Penn. I am most indebted, however, to William Street, who was my teacher at the Eastman School of Music.

    John H Beck Timpani MalletsR!S:What sort of music activities have been part of your job—performing, teaching, composing, recording, engineering, other?
    JHB: I played timpani in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for 43 years (1959–2002), taught percussion at the Eastman School of Music for 49 years (1959–2008), and am still teaching at Eastman as the Professor Emeritus of Percussion, teaching the History of Percussion for two hours a week in the first semester of each year. I also played drum set in the Arranger’s Workshop at the Eastman Summer School for 11 years and played in the President’s Own Marine Band, Washington D.C. from 1955–59. I publish with Kendor music, have written articles for various musical publications, and present percussion workshops and masterclasses both domestically and internationally.

    R!S:What was your introduction to PAS?
    JHB: I was introduced to PAS by Gordon Peters and Donald Canedy back in the early 1960s. I joined the society by 1962 and was the host for the first Percussive Arts Society International Convention in 1976 at the Eastman School of music.

    R!S: What is one thing you wish all student percussionists knew about PAS?
    JHB: I wish all serious percussionists knew how important it is to belong to PAS. It is a stepping stone for their career. It will give them information about percussion activities worldwide. It will also provide them with information and playing opportunities in orchestras and colleges. For them, it will be their networking contact for the percussion community.

    R!S:What's the first section you read in a new issue of Percussive Notes or Rhythm! Scene?
    JHB: I usually look at the last page of Percussive Notesto see what PAS Historian James A. Strain has to offer; it is probably my age that causes me to do this. I then open the first page and browse through. I never forget to look at the New Percussion Literature and Recordings.

    R!S:What is your most prized percussion-related souvenir?
    JHB: The Eagle Rope Drum and glass snare drum given to me by my son. Also, the photo of my son and I playing together with the inscription “Father and Son play together.”

    R!S:If you aren't playing or teaching percussion, what are you doing?
    JHB: I play some golf, but as I get older, my game gets slower and shorter. I am an amateur wine maker. I have been doing that for about 20 years, and I make about six cases a year. I buy the juice and work on the wine for the year, then bottle it once it gets to the taste I like. I once won a bronze medal for a blend of red wine I worked on for about two years. Sorry, there is none left.

    R!S:What music or station is playing when you turn on your car?
    JHB: I only listen to WGMC 90.1, the jazz station in Rochester.

    R!S:What's the first app you open on your phone or first program you start on your computer each morning?
    JHB: The weather; I need to know how to dress for the day.

    R!S:If you could tell your 18-year-old self one piece of musical advice, what would it be?
    JHB: Don’t try to play like someone else, but play the best youcan play. Once you find out how well you can play, then you will start to improve. 

  • PAS Profile : Past-President Garwood Whaley

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 10, 2020

    Garwood WhaleyConductor, composer, and educator, Garwood Whaley holds a diploma from the Juilliard School and a doctorate from the Catholic University of America, and he is President/Founder of Meredith Music Publications. As a performer, he was a freelance musician in New York, a member of Paul Lavalle and the New York World’s Fair Band of America and, for six years, a member of the United States Army Band, "Pershing's Own." His popular workshop “Solving Rhythm Problems in the Instrumental and Choral Ensemble” has been presented extensively throughout the United States and Canada.

    Rhythm! SceneHow did you get started in percussion?
    Garwood Whaley: I wanted to be a rock drummer and joined a not-so-good pick-up band that led me to my high school concert band.

    R!S:What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
    GW: Timpani. The dynamic contrast and musical expression possible on timpani is incredible.

    R!S:Who was your percussion idol growing up?
    GW: Vic Firth

    R!S:What was one of your most memorable performances as a student percussionist?
    GW: Playing a concert with composer/conductor Luciano Berio for percussion and chorus at Carnegie Hall and again at Lincoln Center with Paul Price and others.

    R!S:Who were key or memorable teachers in your musical education?
    GW: Joe Greco, my high school band director; Moe Goldenberg and Saul Goodman at Juilliard.

    Garwood Whaley

    R!S:What sort of music activities are part of your job?
    GW: All aspects of music publishing—except the actual printing—from selection, to proof reading, working with authors/composers, overseeing design/layout, legal issues including licensing, copyright, contracts, royalties, and the list goes on and on!

    R!S:What was your introduction to PAS?
    GW: I read an early edition of their publication and became so excited about the organization that I wrote an article for them about playing in a military band while I was a member of the Army Band. I then started the Virginia PAS Chapter and became its first president. I later went on to serve as two-term President of PAS from 1993 to 1996.

    R!S: What is one thing you wish all student percussionists knew about PAS?
    GW: That it is an incredible resource! I never had the benefit of PAS as a student and certainly wish that wealth of knowledge and information had been so readily available.

    R!S:What's the first section you read in a new issue of Percussive Notes or Rhythm! Scene?
    GW: Hall of Fame articles, to know more about the best our community has to offer!

    R!S:What is your most prized percussion-related souvenir?
    GW: An autographed photo of my Juilliard teacher Saul Goodman that reads: “To Gar Whaley, One of my most gifted and musical former students. 11/27/91.”

    R!S:If you aren't playing or teaching percussion, what are you doing?
    GW: Working in my position as president and founder of Meredith Music Publications, or at Crossfit.

    R!S:What music or station is playing when you turn on your car?
    GW: NPR for news. I’m addicted to today’s incredible political news reports.

    R!S:What's the first app you open on your phone or first program you start on your computer each morning?
    GW: Gmail.

    R!S:If you could tell your 18-year-old self one piece of musical advice, what would it be?
    GW: Learn how to practice intelligently—perhaps using our publication “Practicing With Purpose” by David Kish, which lists 50 different approaches to practicing.

  • PAS Profile: Thad Anderson

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Oct 01, 2019

    Thad Anderson

    Thad Anderson is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Percussion Studies program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. In addition to his duties in the percussion area, he teaches courses in music technology and directs the UCF New Music Ensemble. His currently serves the Percussive Arts Society on the Executive Committee as the organization’s Secretary.

    Rhythm!Scene: How did you get started in percussion?
    Thad Anderson: Drum set was my first musical instrument. I started studying privately when I was in seventh grade and formed a few bands in the early days. At the encouragement of my mother, I joined my high school band as a sophomore and never looked back. Within the year, I was enrolled in as many music classes as my schedule would allow and committed to pursuing a music degree. It all started with drum set.

    R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
    TA: Growing up, I had so many interests and thought I might pursue a variety of professions—baseball player, firefighter, architect, etc. The percussion world fulfills my instinct to need variety and evolve with my personal interests. One day I can give a solo marimba recital, and the next day I can play drum set with the band I’m in. I truly don’t have a favorite.

    R!S: What is your most prized percussion-related souvenir?
    TA: The first item that comes to mind is a found instrument. I have a set of spun-steel brake drums from the 1920s. I bought them in Petaluma, California while visiting a specialist who focuses his business on vintage brake parts. These are the style of brake drums that Henry Cowell, John Cage, and Lou Harrison discovered in the junkyards and composed for in the 1930s. They sound very different than the cast-iron variety that we are all familiar with; they sound more like chimes with pure tone than the “clunk” or “pink” of an anvil.

    Thad Anderson

    R!S: Who was your percussion idol growing up?
    TA: There are far too many to list here. At the moment, I would say that I idolize and have a lot of respect for the generations of percussion teachers who have come before me in the college ranks, particularly those who remain active and involved in their career some 35 or 45 years after they began teaching. There are many who fall into this category, and I strive to follow in their footsteps and continue to perform, commission, teach, record, and give back in the same ways that they are still active in our field.

    R!S: What was one of your most memorable performances as a student percussionist?
    TA: Performing the world premiere of John Corigliano’s “Symphony No. 3” with maestro Jerry Junkin and the University of Texas Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall was certainly a highlight, but I have many fond memories on stage performing with my peers.

    R!S: Who were key or memorable teachers in your musical education?
    TA: Early in my musical career, a very influential non-percussionist made a significant impact on me as a musician. Rebecca Brown directed a youth choir that I played drum set with through high school. This was my first opportunity to make a difference with music, and it really made a difference in me. I would also include my early teachers growing up in Gainesville, Florida: Paula Thornton and Vicki Nolan, my band directors, as well as Tom Hurst and Ken Broadway. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my primary college percussion teachers, Jeff Moore, Thomas Burritt, and Tony Edwards; all three continue to make a big impact on me.

    Thad AndersonR!S: What sort of music activities are part of your job—performing, teaching, composing, recording, engineering, other?
    TA: I enjoy my role at UCF because I am involved in areas and interests outside of percussion as well. In addition to teaching applied lessons and directing the percussion ensembles, I also teach in the music technology area and direct our New Music Ensemble. Outside of the percussion field, technology, conducting, and contemporary music are some of my biggest passions.

    R!S: What was your introduction to PAS?
    TA: I joined PAS as a junior in high school in the Fall of 1997. I still remember getting my first issue of Percussive Notes in the mail—it was the preview issue for PASIC in Anaheim, California—and I have a vivid memory of reading it and showing my fellow percussionist in our high school band room. I still have my original PAS number that I got back in 1997.

    R!S: What is one thing you wish all student percussionists knew about PAS?
    TA: There are so many opportunities to become involved. PAS is much more than an annual international convention; PASIC is pretty incredible, though! I would encourage student percussionists to get involved locally by attending and participating in state-wide and regional events. PAS also offers a lot of scholarship and participation opportunities on an international level. Competitions are also a great way to become active within the organization.

    R!S: What’s the first section you read in a new issue of Percussive Notes or Rhythm! Scene?
    TA: I still receive the physical copy of Percussive Notes. I wouldn’t say there is a section I flip to immediately when I receive a new issue, but I do enjoy going page by page, working my way through it. I’ve read some great articles in Rhythm! Scene over the years, but I have always enjoyed reading the “People and Places” section ever since Percussive News was around. It’s fun to read about what’s going on around the country and world. The media content in Rhythm! Scene is always a great bonus.

    R!S: If you aren’t playing, teaching percussion, working, or volunteering for PAS, what are you doing?
    TA: Gardening, reading, running, and spending time with my family. During the summer months, I spend a lot of time outside working on various projects. I like handyman projects and maintaining our home. Living in Florida, we also spend a good amount of time at the beach.

    R!S: What music or station is playing when you turn on your car?
    TA: That depends on the time of year. NPR, sports radio, podcasts, books-on-tape are typically what I listen to during a semester, because I listen to a lot of music while emailing or working at my desk. Most commonly, I’m tuned in to our local NPR affiliate, WMFE 90.7; they are great about supporting and featuring our local arts scene in Orlando.

    R!S: What’s the first app you open on your phone or first program you start on your computer each morning?
    TA: I typically read the news on a device at the breakfast table in the morning.

    R!S: If you could give your 18-year-old self one piece of musical advice, what would it be?
    TA: Take your time. As a younger student and professional, I always felt the need to rush ahead to arrive at or complete the next achievement or goal. Over the past decade, I have learned to slow down, be in the moment, and take my time. Easier said than done, but worth attempting!

Contact Us

Percussive Arts Society
110 W. Washington Street Suite A 
Indianapolis, IN 46204
T: (317) 974-4488
F: (317) 974-4499
E: percarts@pas.org