We had the good fortune of connecting with Thomas Palmatier and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Thomas, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was raised in Upstate New York and participated in band, chorus, and orchestra throughout my school years. I then attended the Crane School of Music for my undergraduate degree and Truman University in Missouri for a graduate degree. I enlisted in the U.S. Army as a musician in 1977. Of course, I never dreamt that I would serve for over 37 years, travel to 56 countries including six combat zones, and would eventually be the senior director of music in the U.S. Armed Forces. After retiring from the Army, I was able to devote my energies to being a music educator, to spend time teaching young people, and to hopefully help develop and mentor up and comers in the profession. I established THP Music Consultants, LLC and have concentrated on producing free products for music educators in addition to working as a conductor and clinician.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
There are musicians and conductors who have fabulous natural gifts. Some of those gifts include being able to move gracefully, have photographic memories, or have perfect pitch. I have none of those! I was always a good but not world-class performer but, recognizing that, I decided not to be outworked. I took every opportunity to learn and to improve on the many things I wasn’t good at. I was fortunate to lead some of the finest musicians in the world at The U.S. Army Band and The U.S. Army Field Band. Since moving to Colorado I have been energized by working with young people, including kindergartners! At the highest professional levels, it’s easy to become too focused on fixing every error. For a five year old, music is just pure joy and it’s refreshing to be reminded of that. Something that has been a big part of my new profession is writing for publications for music educators. I write a monthly column for School Band and Orchestra magazine and the challenge of selecting topics, research, drafting, and polishing those articles help keep me sharp.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well scenery and nature are such big things about the area, especially in Evergreen where I live. I always take visitors up to Mount Evans so they can see the transition from evergreens to aspens and then arctic tundra. I’ve been pretty busy since moving here, and of course, much of that has been during lockdown. However, there are lots of cool little place to eat in Evergreen. The Keys on the Green, Willow Creek, Lariat Lodge, and The Bistro at Marshdale are some of my favorites. I also love downtown Golden.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many! The music teachers in my school growing up would have to be at the top of the list. Representing that group would be Anthony Maiello. He is a world-famous conductor and teacher but his first teaching job was as my fifth-grade band director. He was later my college music teacher at the Crane School, and when I was Associate Bandmaster of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” he was my conducting teacher. He is still a dear friend and a valuable mentor.