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John Willmarth


John Willmarth is an active performer, composer, author, and educator in the central Kentucky area. A versatile percussionist, Willmarth is experienced in many areas of percussion including concert, marching, and world percussion.

A multi-faceted educator, Willmarth works with musicians that range from beginners to advanced university students. At Jesse Clarke Middle School he tutors young percussionists on a weekly basis. He serves as Director of Percussion and Director of Jazz at Lafayette High School. At the University of Kentucky, he is an adjunct faculty member specializing in drumset studies. In addition, Willmarth maintains a private teaching studio at the Don Wilson Music Company in Lexington. As a marching percussion consultant and clinician, he has worked with high schools across the Midwest as well as for Bands of America, The Yamaha Corporation of America, and the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts.

As a freelance percussionist, Willmarth maintains a busy performance schedule. He holds the drumset chair in the Dimartino/Osland Jazz Orchestra, The Raleigh Dailey Trio, and the University of Kentucky Faculty Jazz Quartet. In addition, he is a regular percussionist for the Paragon Music Theatre Company, a member of the Lexington Brass Band, and has performed with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2005, Willmarth and fellow percussionist Jim Corcoran formed the Tandem Percussion Duo. The group is dedicated to exposing kids to percussion through school and community performances. Willmarth is a former member of the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps where, in 1995, he helped to lead the corps to its second DCI title as section leader of the drumline.

An emerging composer, Willmarth received 2nd place honors in the 2006 Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest for his piece for solo timpani, “Bushido: The Way of the Warrior.” An experienced arranger, he has written marching percussion books for high schools across Kentucky as well as The University of Kentucky and the University of Iowa. His percussion compositions and arrangements are published by Innovative Percussion and Drop6 Media, Inc. As an author, Willmarth has contributed articles to Percussive Notes and Bluegrass Music News.

Willmarth earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Kentucky under the tutelage of James Campbell. At the University of Iowa, he completed a master’s degree in percussion performance where he studied with Dan Moore and James Dreier. As a teaching assistant in the jazz area, he assisted John Rapson with classes in Jazz History and Jazz Improvisation. Willmarth is a member of the Percussive Arts Society and the International Association of Jazz Educators and an artist with Yamaha, Innovative Percussion and Evans Drumheads.

Copyright 2005 Cumberland College Drumline