This week the Percussive Arts Society will present their Lifetime Achievement Award in Education to my former teacher, Garwood Whaley. Since I can't be there in person to celebrate I wanted to share a few thoughts and express my sincerest gratitude to Dr. Whaley for the profound influence he has had on me and for all that he has given to percussion and music education.
Most people have heard about the "Mozart Effect" or something along the lines of "music makes you smarter" ... but when I think of Dr. Whaley I can't help but think that it is not just the music that makes you smarter, it is also the process of learning music from an intelligent, talented, motivated, passionate, and dedicated music teacher.
Dr. Whaley first met me when I was a 13-year old percussionist in his Junior High Honor Band in Alexandria, Virginia. Later, I attended Bishop Ireton High School where I played in his symphonic wind ensemble and performed on three world premieres of commissioned works including the Concerto for Percusion and Band by Robert Jager.
The Ireton Wind Ensemble was a model of organization. There were section leaders, band officers, equipment managers, tour managers, and parent volunteers. Dr. Whaley knew how to delegate and how to get things done. On the podium he was demanding and made us all try our best. On the tour bus, he entertained us by making up stories using members of the band as charatcers.
It is hard to imagine where my life would be now had it not been for the guidance, support and continued mentorship Dr. Whaley has given me over the past 35 years.
Cheers to you Dr. Whaley on a much deserved honor!