RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • PAS Profile : Past-President Robert Breithaupt

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | May 11, 2020

    BreithauptRobert Breithaupt has distinguished himself over 50 years as having one of the most diverse careers in the percussion business, as a performer, educator, author, arts administrator, musical contractor, clinician, and consultant. He has performed with dozens of jazz artists and with over 100 symphony orchestras in the United States and beyond. Breithaupt is Professor of Music at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, President of RBMusic, Inc., and has formerly served as Executive Director of the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus, President of PAS, Vice-President of the Jazz Education Network, and was co-founder of Columbus Pro Percussion. 

    Rhythm! SceneHow did you get started in percussion?

    Robert Breithaupt:Actually, I did not begin as a drummer, but the instrument sort of “found” me along the way. I was first attracted to the trombone (you saw the trombone quite a lot on television in the early 1960s), and then played the violin briefly when I was about 10 years old, mostly just to become involved in music in the public schools. I began playing snare drum in a traditional band setting when I was about 10, but almost immediately found myself attracted to and obsessed by the instrument. I played along with every recording I could find, even when I had nothing more than a practice pad.

    R!SWhat was one of your most memorable performances as a student percussionist? 

    RB: I had some very cool experiences as a young drummer performing professionally with older players, but as a percussionist, probably it was performing with a select high school orchestra in Pittsburgh at the Mideast Regional music conference. Great repertoire for a young percussionist/timpanist—"Overture to Candide,” “New World Symphony,” etc.Had I taken another path, I may have ended up as an orchestral timpanist, because I loved that so much.

    Breithaupt Playing ShotR!SWho were key or memorable teachers in your musical education? 

    RB: We all have numerous influences that we can name, but for me I can begin with a few from my earliest days. There was a great teacher in Columbus named Charlie Brown, who had been a Wilcoxin student and who was a taskmaster with my hands early on. I had a timpani teacher, Dr. Darrell Wood, who was actually a French horn player, who was very helpful to me as he pressed me on sound and intonation and told me in my first lesson that I was already a much better drummer than he, but we were going to work on music. That was a shock, but made an indelible impression. I had a great teacher in college named Wendell Jones, who was also a real mentor to me and had been a working musician and in the retail business before he ever got into collegiate teaching. In those days, most of us were studying with “first generation” percussion instructors. I took a couple of lessons with Joe Morello at the old Ludwig Symposiums, but got some terrific guidance from the legendary Cleveland instructor and player Bob McKee, who also taught guys like Skip Hadden, Jim Rupp, Val Kent, and many others in the region. 

    R!SWho was your percussion idol growing up? 

    RB: Unlike many players my age who speak of having an epiphany when they first saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show (I still remember that very vividly), I was drawn to players such as Joe Morello and others, probably due to the fact that my parents and grandparents were music fans. In the case of Joe, he was the epitome of musicianship, technique, and grace behind the drums. Certainly, players like Mitch Mitchell [Jimi Hendrix Experience], Bobby Colomby [Blood, Sweat & Tears], and of course Buddy Rich were influential, but Joe was number one. My grandparents lived with us, and I spent a lot of time at their business, and there was jazz and “easy listening” music on all the time, so my ears were conditioned to not only what I was hearing on the radio and playing, but also by what my family listened to. 

    R!SWhat is your favorite percussion instrument and why?

    RB: I suppose that the drum set would be my favorite due to the fact that it is where I began and where I spend most of my time today, and probably what I’m most noted for as a performer. 

    R!SWhat sort of music activities are part of your job—performing, teaching, composing, recording, engineering, other?

    RB: I’m in my 42nd year as Professor of Percussion at Capital University, where I am one of three percussion instructors. I am most proud of this, as we have some truly outstanding alumni in every facet of the business, and I am so pleased that I have kept a close bond with many of my students. I have been performing with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra since 1980, and have developed a niche as an active orchestral drum set player. I actually enjoy doing this sort of playing and touring, and find the prospect of trying to get an orchestra to “swing” is a worthwhile challenge. I have written articles, chapters, and books, and produced various video resources. As an administrator, I’ve been a department chair and also an executive director, serving 11 years at the helm of the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus, where I functioned in the same role as the ED of an orchestra or opera company, with a full staff. I have a musical contracting firm, RBMusic, where I hire for Broadway shows and other one-off orchestra and show dates. I do some arts consulting on occasion, and I’m still on the board of the Jazz Education Network (JEN). In my past life I was President of PAS, Vice-President of JEN, and Vice-President of Columbus Percussion. 

    R!SWhat was your introduction to PAS?

    RB: I can’t remember exactly when I joined, but I am sure it was early in my high school years, around 1970 or ’71. I was always looking to find reading material that I could slip inside a book in class, like I did with the famous 1966 Ludwig catalog, so anything I could read about drums and percussion, I was going to obtain and pay more attention to that than anything else at the time. 

    R!SWhat is one thing you wish all student percussionists knew about PAS?

    RB: I wish that young folks would look to the resources of the PAS archives either first or certainly in conjunction with a random Google search. In some ways, cursory knowledge is too easy to obtain these days. Digging for information opens up other paths you never knew existed. 

    R!SWhat's the first section you read in a new issue of Percussive Notes or Rhythm! Scene?

    RB: Probably the reviews.

    R!SWhat is your most prized percussion-related souvenir?

    RB: I have a personal note of thanks from Terry Gibbs after having played a series of concerts and shows with him. It was very specific in his compliments, and it is on his personal stationary. While we have worked together since and, fortunately, he is still kicking and on Facebook, getting something like this was very gratifying to me. Performing his “Dream Band” book with Terry in front while I was taking the “role” of Mel Lewis was like playing Beethoven with George Szell conducting. 

    R!SIf you aren't playing or teaching percussion, what are you doing?

    RB: I am fortunate to live on a very picturesque piece of property that backs up to a reserve, so simply listening to music, reading, or doing other sorts of work and staring outside is very therapeutic. I’m also a hockey and soccer fan, so having season tickets to our NHL and MLS teams also occupies time, and I find it to be a valuable diversion and a wonderful way to connect with my family.

    R!SWhat music or station is playing when you turn on your car?

    RB: Probably the Sirius jazz station or NHL Network. I have to be honest on that question. 

    R!SWhat's the first app you open on your phone or first program you start on your computer each morning?

    RB: Given the world’s situation, it would be CNN. Having a sense of the world order is beneficial in many ways. It’s easy to check out, but you will ultimately pay a price for a lack of awareness. 

    R!SIf you could tell your 18-year-old self one piece of musical advice, what would it be?

    RB: Use every minute you can to develop your craft, as you’ll never have any more time at your disposal to develop your skills, especially on piano.

  • 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.

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