John Willmarth is the Director of Steel Bands at Summerville High School. One of the largest high school groups of it's kind, the program boasts 6 bands with over
120 students participating each year. In addition, he consults with various percussion sections in the district including Summerville and Ashley Ridge High Schools and is a faculty member for
GATEWAY, a Dorchester School District Two program that nurtures gifted and talented elementary and middle school students in the arts. He has previously served as an adjunct faculty member at the
University of Kentucky, percussion instructor at Centre College, and as Director of Percussion at McKinney High School in McKinney, TX and Lafayette High School in Lexington, KY. As a percussion
consultant and clinician, he has worked with high school programs across the country as well as for Bands of America, The Yamaha Corporation of America, and the Kentucky Governor’s School for the
An active performer, Mr. Willmarth is currently the drummer for the "Word and Table" contemporary worship services at Bethany United Methodist Church. In addition, he performs regularly as a steel pan soloist with backing tracks. He has extensive experience as a jazz musician, having previously held the drumset chair in the Dimartino/Osland Jazz Orchestra, University of Kentucky Faculty Jazztet, and the Raleigh Dailey Trio. A former member of the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, he was a part of three Drum Corps International High Percussion trophies and two DCI World Championship titles.
An active composer, Mr. Willmarth's compositions have been performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) and the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. In 2006, he received 2nd place honors in the Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest for his solo timpani piece, Bushido: The Way of the Warrior. An experienced arranger, he has written marching percussion books for numerous high schools as well as The University of Kentucky, the University of Iowa, and Charleston Southern University. His percussion compositions and arrangements are published by Innovative Percussion, Row-Loff Productions, and Tapspace Publications. As an author, he has contributed articles to Percussive Notes and Bluegrass Music News.
Mr. Willmarth earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Kentucky under the tutelage of James Campbell and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa in percussion performance where he studied with Dan Moore, James Dreier and John Rapson. He is a member of the Percussive Arts Society, the National Society of Steel Band Educators, and an artist with Innovative Percussion, Evans Drumheads and the Yamaha Corporation of America.