Gwendolyn Burgett Thrasher grew up in St. Louis, Mo. and always dreamt of being a musician. When she was two years old she started playing the violin and piano with the encouragement of her mother. In fifth grade she started the flute in band. “I got bored with it and when there was an opportunity to play percussion I was the first to jump for that chance,” said Thrasher. Thrasher attended Interlochen for high school and became passionate about percussion. She decided to major in percussion and went to school at Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and Yale School of Music.
“My decision to become a professor and percussion performer was influenced by my music teachers at Peabody and Yale,” Thrasher said. “I’m so glad I am on this career path. Teaching gives me the freedom to play a lot of performances, solo recitals, chamber music and orchestral playing.”
As a professor, Thrasher also runs the percussion studio. “I do everything from teaching private lessons and percussion ensembles to getting undergrads into good graduate schools and helping people get the careers they want.”
Thrasher was recently made principal percussionist for the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. “I am very excited to start as principal percussionist the first week of December. I get to get the music, figure out instruments, assign parts and play a bigger part in a piece of music.”
Once a month, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra puts on a concert. Concerts are held at the Wharton Center the majority of the time. The orchestra performs all types of music such as classical works, chamber concerts, jazz, movie music and pop concerts. This year, on Dec. 12, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra will put on their Holiday Pops concert. “It is an awesome piece and I am so excited to play in it, and then our big masterworks piece, Pines of Rome in January,” said Thrasher.
In the future, Thrasher hopes to raise a family. “At this point everything is going really well and I enjoy teaching and playing, but I hope that I will be able to figure out how to keep a balance,” Thrasher said. “I’m going to have to figure out how to keep a career and raise a family and still get to do all of my favorite things.”
Thrasher got her job as a professor at the age of 24 so she is still learning how to manage her time and get some in there for herself. “I was so lucky to get the job so young, but I have realized recently that I need more time to take care of myself,” says Thrasher. “And I think everyone needs to focus on themselves more. Take time to sleep, exercise and make good meals. When you do this everything else will seem easier and get done in a more efficient manner. If you get too busy you may miss out on what’s going on in life. Slow down for one second and realize the smaller things in life. When you do that, you will find happiness.”