Dr. Michael Varner: Percussionist, Composer, and Educator

Dr. Michael Varner has been Director of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington for the past 35 years. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Bowling Green State University, a Master’s in Performance from The University of Michigan, and a Doctorate in Performance from The University of North Texas.  His Dissertation "An Examination of Davidi Maslanka's Marimba Concerti is available online and from the "Percussive Arts Society."

He draws from 40 years experience as a performer presenting repertoire from every musical style including Classical, Contemporary, Jazz, and World beat. He brings to each style of music an unequalled sensitivity and exuberance. He has performed chamber music and studio work in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area including the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. During his time in Michigan he was principal percussionist with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and Principal Timpanist with the Kalamazoo Chamber Orchestra.

He teaches all Percussion and world music courses at UTArlington and is a member of the Honor’s College Faculty, chosen recently as Honor’s faculty member of the Year.

He continues to be active nationally in the field of marching percussion adjudicating and presenting clinics. Under his guidance the UT Arlington drum line has been nationally recognized performing at numerous marching exhibitions including the 1982, 1988, 1993 and 2000, 2003, and 2008 Percussive Arts Societies International competitions. He has worked with renowned drum and bugle corps, including the DCI champion Chicago Cavaliers and the Toledo Glassmen.

He maintains an Artist relationship with Remo Heads and World Instruments, Vic Firth, Yamaha, and Sabian cymbals.

For more information please contact Dr. Varner at: mvarner@uta.edu.

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World Percussion

Varner’s interest in world music led to a sabbatical in Nigeria and “Study-Abroad” classes to Ghana. His article “Skin That Speaks” was published in the 2013 Percussive Notes Journal. In 2009 he received a Faculty Development Leave Grant to accept an invitation from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria to work with their faculty and students. His World Percussion Ensemble performs constantly. His presentation "Skin that Speaks: the Talking Drums of Nigeria" was given for the UTArlington Deans "Festival of Ideas" and the Texas Music educators State Convention. In 2015 "Skin that Speaks" was chosen to be on "TedX" presented internationally.



TedX Skin that Speaks

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Varner released his latest CD in 2014 called "reVelations" featuring his own compositions and many revolutionary works for percussion and Percussion Ensemble continually experiementing and showcasing new concepts and timbres. He accepts commissions from university and high schools across the United States. He publishes many of his own compositions and has released works through Southern Music, Studio Four, and Permus Publications. He hasover 20 compositions published internationally.





CD Review

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Doctor Varner draws from 40 years experience performing Percussion repertoire to the highest standards. He recently presented a series of lecture/recital tours throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Dr. Varner's performances included presentations on Japanese marimba compositions, and a demonstration of the development of solo marimba literature in the late 20th century. Excerpts from Dr. Varner's tour performances can be viewed and listened to by podcast at the Vic Firth Website.





Vic Firth Spotlight

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With a long history as an educator he has given presentations clinics in every state, Europe, and Japan. he has been invited to give Presentations for The Music Educators National Conference, Texas Music Educators Association, Texas and Lousiana Bandmasters Associations, State Percussive Arts Socieities days of percussion and the Midwest Band and Orchestra Convention.





Skin that Speaks Article