Michael Waldrop is arguably one of the most diverse percussionists in the world. He is comfortable in a jazz or commercial music setting as a drumset player and he is equally at home in a classical orchestral setting. He is a virtuoso marimbist, whether performing his own music, or that of other composers. Michael is also adept at hand drumming, having studied with some of the greatest hand percussionists in the world. He is proficient on the tar as well as conga drums. In addition to these impressive performance skills, Waldrop is a skilled composer in both the jazz and percussion idioms. His compositions are published by Drop6 Media. He was educated at the University of North Texas receiving both his BM in Percussion Performance and completing his DMA in Percussion Performance in 1999. He was the drummer for the renowned One Oâ€™Clock band in 1994 and can be heard on three CDâ€™s with the group: Lab 94, Standard Time and Fifty Years. He is currently the professor of percussion at Eastern Washington Unversity and has held similar positions prior to this at the University of Toledo, University of Memphis and Mesa State College in Colorado.
Waldropâ€™s musical beginnings were typical, he grew up listening to the radio and popular music and showed an aptitude for drumming along with the music, so his parents bought him a small drumset and he started studying in school and later privately. His musical education progressed rapidly when he moved from the Atlanta area to Ithaca, NY in the 70â€™s. He had the good fortune to study and perform with some terrific musicians and percussionists in that area including Ithaca College percussion professors Bill Youhass and Gordon Stout. Waldrop also had the good fortune to perform with renowned guitarist David Torn (composed and performed music for the movie Traffic) at the young age of 18. He was playing professionally in upstate NY by the age of 17. After high school it was off to the University of North Texas.
The UNT experience was invaluable in terms of gaining essential skills as a performer and also being exposed to a wide variety of music, ranging from 20th century contemporary classical music, avant garde jazz and especially big band performance. Waldrop performed with many fantastic artists at UNT; while there he was a member of the Dan Haerle Quartet, The Zebras (with pianist Michael Cain), Inner City recording artists Condor, the Bob Belden Quartet and the Jay Saunders Group. He studied with many great teachers while there including Robert Schietroma, Ron Fink, Ed Soph, Henry Okstel, Kal Cherry, Michael Carney, and Greg Bissonette.