Ginny Armstrong received Bachelor of Music in Education and Master of Music in Performance degrees from West Virginia University, and she completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Iowa. Before the pandemic she was serving as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Iowa, where she instructed a course in percussion for music therapists and educators. She also directs PanIC, a steel band for adults in the community, directs and performs with the Pandelirium Steel Band, and is a member of the PAS Diversity Alliance. Ginny has also served as president of the Iowa PAS Chapter.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a percussionist and educator, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Virginia Armstrong: I could see myself doing something in interior design or decorating. My mother was a seamstress and owned a custom window-treatment business, and I would help her on some projects. I have always loved working with color and decorating.
R!S: As a freelance artist, what's one of the weirdest gigs you've taken or oddest jobs you've had outside the industry?
VA: I have a lot of stories of being on gigs that got weird, but didn't necessarily start out that way. One of the weirdest jobs I had was working a few weeks at a dry cleaner while the store I worked at in Nashville was being remodeled. There was a really weird cross-section of folks who worked there as well the customers and their stories.
R!S: What's one thing about you that your colleagues or students would unanimously proclaim?
VA: I think (hope) most would say I am pretty laid back and have a good sense of humor. I take what I do seriously, but I try not to take myself too seriously.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
VA: While most of my gigging work is on steel pans, my favorite instrument is the marimba. I played clarinet and organ until high school, but when I started playing percussion the marimba just felt right, and the sound just spoke to me.
R!S: Where did you grow up and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
VA: I grew up in West Virginia. It was a fairly normal town except for the first week of October when we put on the Mountain State Forest Festival. It was, and still is, a huge event with a carnival, two parades, and a coronation of a queen that included 40 princesses from around the state. It was attended by two United States Presidents and numerous other elected officials while I was a kid. My mother sewed costumes for it, and I was in the "royal court" twice.