His high marks as a musician include concerts at Watergate, Capitol Steps, White House, State Department, Kennedy Center, and DAR Constitution Hall. He performed “Happy Birthday” to former President Dwight Eisenhower while he was recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Now Delray Beach resident Garwood Whaley is inducted into this year’s Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. He will join many luminaries, including Michael Colgrass (Pulitzer Prize), his former professors of Juilliard Saul Goodman and Morris Goldenberg, and Ringo Starr, among others.
“This is a once in a lifetime award that I am both honored and proud of,” said the 78-year-old. “I learned early on that it is important to set short and long term goals to achieve a level of excellence. If you are honest as a musician, you never really achieve excellence.
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Whaley graduated from The Juilliard School and the Catholic University of America, where he earned both an MA in Music and a Doctorate in Musical Arts 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 assistant professor of music at the Catholic University of America, past two-term president of the Percussive Arts Society, former music program coordinator instrumental for the Diocese of Arlington. Schools and President and Founder of Meredith Music Publications.
Whaley, who got into music because he wanted to be a rock’n’roll drummer, wrote his first book in 1965 and since then has sold over 500,000 copies of his books around the world. Among his best-selling titles, he is the author of “Basics in Rhythm and Primary Handbook for Snare Drum”.
“Many of the musical elements found in my works, now used around the world, are a direct result of my training with Saul Goodman as a student at The Juilliard School,” said Whaley. “After 40 years as a publisher, I am still excited about every new publication.”
He has also received numerous awards in music and music education, including the 2004 Alumni Achievement Award in Education from Catholic University and the prestigious Music Industry Award 2011 from the Midwest Clinic. For five years, he received an Arts Fellowship from the Washington Post Newspaper’s Educational Foundation for his “commissioned work and composer in school project.”
“So many things in my life fell into place even though I hadn’t planned them,” Whaley said. “Perhaps the most important thing was ending up in the US Army orchestra at the height of the Vietnam War. Thanks to Uncle Sam, I was able to get a master’s and a doctorate in music and in music education while playing with a great musical ensemble. I’m a lucky guy. “
Whaley has lived in Delray with Adele, his wife for 55 years. They have two children, their son Gar Whaley III and their daughter Meredith Whaley Ramey.
Who is your hero?
My Juilliard teacher, Saul Goodman, who was the world famous principal timpanist of the New York Philharmonic. New York Times music critic Harold Schonberg has dubbed him “the Heifetz of the timpani.” His career in the orchestra lasted 46 years.
What is your favorite movie?
“Gift of the Magi”.
What are your hobbies?
Scuba diving and training.
What do you do to get away from it all or take a break?
Exercise, read, go to the beach, and travel, especially in the Keys or New York.
What is your favorite book and why?
I cannot name just one. But any book by David McCullough because he does such studious research and brings history to life.
If you could meet one person in the story, who would it be and why?
Arturo Toscanini because he was the most remarkable and competent conductor of the twentieth century. I would like to discuss his interpretation of the many musical masterpieces he has conducted.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
This isn’t really advice I got, but this is what I’m trying to experience:
“Do not go where the path may lead, go where there is no path and leave a mark.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Standing at the altar, watching my bride-to-be walking down the aisle during our wedding. It is still a vivid and blessed memory after 55 years.