Michael Varner

Michael Varner's Biography

Prior to his retirement, Dr. Michael Varner served as Director of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington for 36 years. Previous to that positon, he was Director of Percussion at Western Michigan University, and he taught percussion and world music at the university level for a total of 40 years. Dr. Varner holds a degree in music education from Bowling Green State University, a master's degree in performance from the University of Michigan and a doctoral degree in performance from the University of North Texas. In his retirement, Dr. Varner stays very active by adjudicating percussion, teaching private lessons, accepting commissions for compositions, giving clinics and performing recitals.

Dr. Varner draws from over 40 years of experience performing new and time-honored repertoire to the highest standards. In 2014, he released his CD reVelations, featuring his own compositions. He has been a featured performer at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC).

In addition, Dr. Varner has been invited to present percussion clinics in virtually every state, Europe and Japan as well as at National Association for Music Education Conferences, The Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conferences, Texas Music Educators Association Conventions and Texas Bandmasters Association Conventions. He is very active nationally, adjudicating solo and ensemble events.

Dr. Varner is active in composing solo and percussion ensemble repertoire that is often performed nationally and internationally. He accepts commissions regularly for his unique compositions, and his works have been performed at PASIC. He serves a member of the Percussive Arts Society's Composition Committee.

He has performed chamber music and done studio work in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and he has appeared with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and East Texas Symphony Orchestra. During his time in Michigan, Dr. Varner was Principal Percussionist with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and Principal Timpanist with the Kalamazoo Chamber Orchestra.

Dr. Varner has long been active nationally in the field of marching percussion adjudicating and clinic presentation. Under his guidance, the UT Arlington drum line was nationally recognized, performing at numerous marching exhibitions, including Percussive Arts Society international competitions. He has worked with renowned drum and bugle corps, including the DCI World Champion Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps and the Glassmen Drum & Bugle Corps.

Dr. Varner's interest in world music led to a sabbatical in Nigeria and study abroad classes in Ghana. His article "Skin that Speaks" was published in Percussive Notes, and he received a grant to accept an invitation from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria for teaching and research.

During his time at UT Arlington, he was the only music faculty member to be a member of the Honors College faculty, and he was chosen as the Honors College Faculty Member of the Year.

Dr. Varner is proud to be an artist for Yamaha Musical Instruments, Remo World Percussion, Vic Firth Mallets and Sabian Cymbals.

Michael Varner's Gear