Cole Williams is a composer, arranger, and educator from Guthrie, Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Music in Music Performance degree from the University of Arkansas. Cole is the Adjunct Professor of Percussion at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, where he works with the Sound of the Golden Hurricane Marching Band, directs the TU Percussion Ensemble, teaches private lessons, and instructs a percussion methods class for music education majors.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a percussionist and educator, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Cole Williams: I would probably be working in the music industry as a sales professional. I love interacting with people, so I feel like it would be a good fit for my personality. I spent eight years in retail while in high school/undergrad, so I am very used to that work environment.
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?
CW: As a performer, I have had the opportunity to work with a few semi-professional regional orchestras. When doing children's concerts, it is always a toss-up on what instruments may be provided, and you never know what is going to happen: timpani pedals don't work, mallet instruments missing chunks of keys, bass drums held up by bungee cords, etc. Not to mention, I've had to perform off-stage more times than I can count, due to lack of space!
R!S: What's one thing about you that your colleagues or students would unanimously proclaim?
CW: I think most of my students and colleagues would say that I try to teach every aspect of music education through the lens of an educator. Whether or not my students are going into education, I still believe that opportunities will present themselves in that realm, and they will need to be trained for it. Instead of focusing on how to play something, I often ask my students, "How would you teach this?" In addition to this, I'm sure there are a few phrases that my students could use to make plenty of quality memes about me.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
CW: My favorite percussion instrument will always be marimba. Even as an avid rudimental drummer, and someone who spent years of his life focusing on marching percussion, I still find myself drawn to the warmth and diversity of the marimba. It is a lovely escape just to spend time in front of the instrument and explore its timbres. As a composer and arranger, I find myself spending a lot of time by the marimba to hack out melodies and chord structures before sitting down at the computer to write a single note.
R!S: Where did you grow up, and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
CW: I grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, which is a small town about 30 miles north of Oklahoma City. I am the son of an educator, and music has always been in my life. Active both in choir and band, I always knew music education would play a role in my professional career. While I did not end up becoming a band director, music education is always the basis of my career, whether it is through my marching band arrangements throughout the country, a clinic setting, or a one-on-one lesson.