RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • 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!

  • PAS Profile : Alison Mitchell

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Aug 01, 2019

    Alison Mitchell
    Alison Mitchell graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern State University in Louisiana with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. During her time at NSULA, she was an active performer in a variety of ensembles, including the Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band, the Wind Symphony & Wind Ensemble, the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra, and the NSU Percussion Ensemble. Upon graduating in 2016, she served as the Assistant Director of Percussion for the Rockwall High School cluster in Rockwall, Texas, where she stayed for two years before accepting an internship with PAS. She later accepted a full-time position with PAS as the Programs Coordinator, where she works on programs such as Group Memberships, Days of Percussion, Competitions, Scholarships, and PASIC.Alison Mitchell

    Rhythm!Scene: How did you get started in percussion?
    Alison Mitchell: Honestly, percussion was never my first choice; I wanted to play the clarinet like my older brother. However, someone had jokingly told me that I wouldn’t make a very good percussionist. I was an extremely competitive kid, so in my eyes this was a challenge. As a result, I ended up testing on both clarinet and percussion. Looking back, I’m really glad I was placed in percussion, considering I wouldn’t be where I am today otherwise, and also because I still cannot produce a great sound on clarinet no matter how hard I try.

    R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
    AM: For me, it depends on the setting. Snare is my favorite marching instrument, considering I marched snare for eight years. In a concert setting I really enjoyed playing bass drum or chimes, probably because I ended up with a lot of fun parts for these instruments.

    R!S: Who was your percussion idol growing up?
    AM: I have always admired Keiko Abe and Evelyn Glennie. Both of these women have accomplished so much and are truly inspiring.

    R!S: What was one of your most memorable performances as a student percussionist?
    AM: Playing “Crown of Thorns” for the last time on Family Day at NSU. We had just performed it at our percussion ensemble concert that same week, but we were not ready to be done with it. We managed to convince our director, Mr. Ken Green, to let us perform it one more time. It was an extremely emotional performance for all involved, as it is such a fantastic piece and we put so much work into it. 

    R!S: Who were key or memorable teachers in your musical education?
    AM: My high school band directors, Jeff DuBose and Jeff Johnson, had a large impact on me as both a musician and person. They pushed me to be the best version of myself and provided me with opportunities to grow. In addition, the Creative and Performing Arts faculty at NSULA is full of professors I admire and look up to, including Dr. Oliver Molina, Assistant Professor of Music. I can truly say that I would not be where I am without the support and guidance of Dr. Molina.

    R!S: What sort of music activities are part of your job—performing, teaching, composing, recording, engineering, other?
    AM: Every now and then I have the opportunity to lead tours in the museum, Rhythm! Discovery Center. On tours, I’m able to teach kids a little about some of the instruments we have in the museum, as well as lead them in a drum circle. 

    R!S: What was your introduction to PAS?
    AM: I had briefly heard about PAS in high school, but it wasn’t until I started at NSU that I learned what PAS was from my percussion professor. He encouraged us to go to PASIC, and my first PASIC was all it took for me to be hooked.

    R!S: What is one thing you wish all student percussionists knew about PAS?
    AM: There are so many benefits to being a member of PAS that I never even knew about as a student. By being a member of PAS, you have access to a variety of scholarships, competitions, educational resources, and valuable networking opportunities. I highly encourage student percussionists who wish to stay in this field to get involved with PAS as much as possible and reap all of the benefits that you can. You only get out as much as you put in.

    R!S: What’s the first section you read in a new issue of Percussive Notes or Rhythm! Scene?
    AM: I wouldn’t say that there is a specific first section that I read; I browse, and if there is something that catches my eye, then that is what I read.

    R!S: What is your most prized percussion-related souvenir?
    AM: All of the memorabilia I have received from percussion students I have taught over the last couple of years. I’ve kept and cherished every little thing that my former students have given me, aside from the large number of Whataburger ketchup packets that they loved to bring me after finding out about my Whataburger obsession.

    Alison MitchellR!S: If you aren’t playing, teaching percussion, working, or volunteering for PAS, what are you doing?
    AM: In my spare time, I’m either playing a game on my Xbox One or Nintendo Switch, watching something on Netflix or Hulu such as The Office or Bones, or playing with my 2.5-year-old Boston Terrier, Charlie. On occasion, I’ll also get hooked on a series of books that I typically can’t put down until I have finished them all.

    R!S: What music or station is playing when you turn on your car?
    AM: I use Spotify a lot, so it can vary depending on my mood. Some artists that I play a lot include Panic! At the Disco, Taylor Swift, John Mayer, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, The Smiths, blink-182…

    R!S: What’s the first app you open on your phone or first program you start on your computer each morning?
    AM: Lately I have been opening Facebook first thing on my phone in order to look at my memories. I really enjoy looking back on my memories because it reminds me of how far I have come, both personally and professionally, and pushes me to continue to better myself. Once I settle down at my computer, I typically check my email first thing.

    R!S: If you could tell your 18-year-old self one piece of musical advice, what would it be?
    AM: You’re not going to play anything perfectly, but you can play it to the best of your ability and be proud of that—if you’ve put the work in, of course.

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