Lesson 11/21

 Artist Spotlight with Garwood Whaley

From his earliest days of studying drums and percussion, Garwood (Gar) Whaley has been surrounded by talented and accomplished musicians. His earliest teachers hailed from Juilliard and the West Point Band, so it's no wonder that developing a solid background in performance AND education would become the hallmark of his successful legacy in music. Of course, adding Morris Goldenberg and Saul Goodman (while studying at Juilliard himself) to the list didn't hurt his chances at success!

That doesn't mean that Gar hasn't suffered setbacks – as we all have. Being "next in line" for Saul's recommendation for a professional orchestra job was sidetracked with a draft notice from Uncle Sam. An early decision to sell the rights to his first method books prevented him from reaping the financial rewards from their hugely popular success. But each time, life's twists and turns became a blessing for Gar. Instead of a symphony gig, he landed a spot with the U.S. Army Band ("Pershing's Own") and was able to complete his Masters and Doctorate degrees from The Catholic University of America. In fact, selling the rights to his first books spurred him to start his own music publishing company.

Along the way, teaching privately and providing instrumental music education to thousands of students in Catholic Schools in Northern Virginia demonstrated to Gar that there were opportunities to help students around the world by creating much needed educational materials. This simple opportunity eventually resulted in his authorship of 30+ books that have sold over 400,000 copies. With the addition of numerous publications from like-minded friends and colleagues to his catalog, Gar managed to create a full library of resources to aid the percussion instructor and band director.

In addition to the many awards he's received, the Percussive Arts Society recently inducted Whaley into the P.A.S. Hall of Fame. It is an honor that's the culmination of a lifetime of following his passion – to create music and to help students and teachers in the process.


Keith Aleo sits down with Garwood to talk about his path from student to performer, educator to author, as well as his 50+ years as a highly successful music publisher.


Garwood Whaley received degrees from the Juilliard School – where he studied with Morris Goldenberg and Saul Goodman as a scholarship student – and The Catholic University of America where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree while performing with the United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own.” He is conductor emeritus of the Bishop Ireton Symphonic Wind Ensemble in Alexandria, Virginia, former adjunct professor of music at The Catholic University of America, two-term past president of the Percussive Arts Society, former curriculum coordinator of instrumental music for the Diocese of Arlington Schools and president and founder of Meredith Music Publications. As director of Meredith Music, he has been responsible for the publication of some of the most exceptional performance and educational materials available today. More than 400 composers and authors are included in the Meredith catalog.

Gar wrote his first book in 1965 and since then has become one of the best known and best selling writers of percussion method books of all time with more than 400,000 copies of his books sold worldwide. In 1998, Bishop Ireton High School named its new performance hall the “Garwood Whaley Auditorium” in recognition of his long-term contributions to the school’s fine arts program. His charities, both personal and corporate—through Meredith Music Publications—have provided thousands of dollars to individuals and organizations that promote music and provide music education opportunities. He lives with his wife Adele in Delray Beach, Florida. Gar’s hobbies include scuba diving and working out at Crossfit Delray Beach.