Conductor, 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! Scene: How 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.
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?
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.