Norm Peth, one of the most admired and influential drum instructors in the four decades following World War II passed away Friday, July 10 at age 95.
A member of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame since his induction in 1997, he was also certified as a master drummer by the International Association of Traditional Drummers (IATD). He was the first recipient of the IATD’s John Sterling Pratt Prestige Award, bestowed earlier this year on January 13, 2020.
John Pratt, a prolific percussion composer and a former student Norm Peth, also passed away earlier this year.
Norm Peth’s performances ranged from theatre and club stages to the drum corps contest field. Many of his students became top musicians performing around the world from Las Vegas to Singapore. He played drums professionally with the Jerry Wald Orchestra and many other groups during the Big Band era, working for and with many of the great jazz drummers of the day. Over the years, he was involved with 114 different music groups ranging from street parade corps to big field competition drum and bugle corps.
A list of his students is a virtual “who’s who” of high achievers in drumming. In addition to teaching drum and bugle corps percussion sections, he had students that later played with and taught the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and West Point Hellcats drum lines. Other students became high school and college teachers and professional drummers.
Some of his students went on to become members or instructors of such well-known drum and bugle corps as the Seneca Chiefs, Rochester Grey Knights, Tri-County Incorporated, Geneva Appleknockers, Syracuse Brigadiers, Interstatesmen.
He made contributions in every area of drum and bugle corps activity: playing, instructing, organizing and adjudicating, mainly in western New York. He was a judge for the All American Drum and Bugle Corps and Band Association, more commonly known as “The All American,” who judged many American Legion events as well as New York/Canadian Association contests and the New York/Canadian Individuals
He became widely known in the late 1940s as the drum instructor for the Seneca Chiefs Senior Drum and Bugle Corps of Seneca Falls, New York. Under his instruction, the Seneca Chiefs drum quartet won the New York/Canadian ensemble championship for three straight years, from 1963 through 1965.
He retired from drum corps activity more than 30 years ago, moving from western New York to enjoy the sunny climate of Florida. During his retirement he continued to play with various nightclub groups and, occasionally, live theatre bands.