John F. Best
Los Angeles-based performer, educator and composer / arranger John Best is currently the Music Arranger for the University of Houston Cougar Marching Band and Pit Instructor and Arranger at The Woodlands High School in Texas. Although native to Houston, his musical tastes are as diverse and exotic as the locations he has performed and studied. After studying in the Bluegrass, the Arizona desert and the arctic cold of Northern Sweden, John has emerged as a virtuoso percussionist and versatile educator. He travels the globe as a musician and educator and has performed as a soloist and clinician in the United States, Austria, Germany, Sweden, and Australia.
John’s 14 years of experience as an educator extend across both secondary schools and universities and include wind, jazz, percussion and marching ensembles, private lessons and university courses. He has recently returned as the Pit Instructor at The Woodlands High School in Texas. Previously he was the Instrumental Music Director at Royal High School in Simi Valley, California, teaching 3 wind ensembles, a marching band and two jazz ensembles. He also spent two years as the Percussion Area Coordinator at Sam Houston State University, and has also worked as an Affiliate Artist at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. In 2005-2006, he was the Jazz Band Director and Percussion Instructor at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, TX. John has also taught courses in North Harris Montgomery County Community College District (TX), He has taught as a private music instructor in the Spring, Cypress-Fairbanks and Conroe independent school districts in Texas. In May 2004, he was invited to be the guest artist and clinician for the Temple High School Percussion Ensemble Concert in Temple, TX. Over the last 14 years, he has been a percussion clinician at numerous high schools and band camps in Arizona, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas.
John continues his musical craftsmanship both as a concert percussionist on the stage and as a vibraphonist in jazz venues. He enjoys a diverse array of performance opportunities. Groups he has performed with include Global Percussion Network (Stockholm, Sweden), Percussion One (Houston, TX), Orchestra X (Houston TX), the Arizona Opera (Phoenix/Tucson, AZ), Erik Westberg’s Vokalensemble (Piteå, Sweden), the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra (Lexington, KY), the AIMS Festival Orchestra (Graz, Austria), the Gerald Blakeman Quartet (Houston), John Best Trio (Houston), and the rock-exotica band Clouseaux (Houston). He has performed as a featured soloist at such venues as the 2000 World Expo in Hannover, Germany, the 2001 Melbourne International Percussion Festival in Australia as well as various appearances at Percussive Arts Society international conventions. His success at competitions began at the University of Kentucky, where he won the prestigious Lewis Award Scholarship. His skills at the marimba allowed him to win the 1996 Concerto Competition at the school. He also won 1st place in the 1998 PAS International Solo Timpani Contest in Orlando, FL.
As a composer and arranger, John has written arrangements and original compositions for marching bands, solo percussion compositions and works for chamber ensembles and jazz combos. His clients have included University of Houston Cougar Marching Band (TX), The Woodlands High School (TX), Dekaney High School (TX), Royal High School (CA), Clear Lake High School (TX), North Hardin High School (KY), and Flushing High School (MI).
During his studies in Sweden, John began to develop a unique method of utilizing professional audio technology in an educational framework. He has since extended this method for all musicians to enhance individual practice routines and aid the teacher during private lessons. He presented part of his methods of using digital delay at the 2001 Percussive Arts Society Convention in Nashville, TN. In October 2001, John was a featured artist, clinician and judge at the Melbourne International Percussion Festival in Melbourne, Australia, where he shared more of his ideas for incorporating technology into one’s practice routine and performed two solo etudes from The Delay Factor, a set of 10 improvisational etudes he has composed for vibraphone and digital delay.
John Best uses Vic Firth mallets and sticks. He serves on the Music Technology Committee for the Percussive Arts Society.
John graduated Spring High School in 1994 and received a Bachelor's degree in Music Performance from the University of Kentucky in 1999. John then continued graduate studies at the University of Arizona. He completed a Masters in Percussion Performance from Musikhögskolan i Piteå, Sweden in 2002 where he also studied in a studio musician's program. His main teachers have included: Graduate School: Anders Åstrand, Gary Cook and Norman Weinberg; Bachelor’s: James Campbell and Dan Moore; and Secondary: Lamar Burkhalter and Gregg Rinehart.