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1/23/2013 2:52:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Cashmere native plays percussion in inaugural parade
Kacie Thrift
Staff Writer

Sgt. First Class Glenn Gurnard has his hometown Cashmere to thank for a large part of his success as a musician.

A graduate of the class of 1975, Gurnard was a member of the Cashmere High School band, directed by teacher Larry Johnson. One year, Johnson told Gurnard about a band camp at Eastern Washington University. Gurnard applied and was accepted into the camp and given a scholarship by the Cashmere Boosters.

According to Gurnard, the band camp was the key in getting to where he is today in his career, a member of the United States Army Band, "Pershing's Own."

"Mr. Johnson was my biggest advocate as far as teachers go," he said. "This music camp really set me up on my way in pursuing a career in music."

While attending the camp at EWU, Gurnard made contacts to begin assembling his career and to help him find the path to becoming a professional musician. Gurnard's experience at the music camp led him to study music at EWU after high school.

On Jan. 21, 2013, the Cashmere native percussionist marched in the 57th presidential inaugural parade. Gurnard, who now lives in Ashburn, Va., has been performing in either the inaugural parade or ball since he joined "Pershing's Own" in 1994.

Music is more than a career for Gurnard; it's a way of life.

"There is something about the way I am wired that I am very sensitive to sounds and to particular quality of sounds. Whether it be cello, piano or flute, there is something that has always captured me. Listening to various sounds and combinations of sounds, I find very enjoyable," Gurnard said. "That's probably the most enjoyable part of being a musical artist is the various colors of sound that can be combined to produce a successful performance."

While growing up in Cashmere, Gurnard lived in a house on his family's orchard at the end of Tigner Road. Awhile back, Gurnard's father passed away and he came back to Cashmere to gather all of his father's possessions. When Gurnard was going through old farming equipment, he found old mower blades that he now uses as a musical instrument.

"As a percussionist, if I go through a hardware store often rather than looking for what I need I will also pick up various things to hear what they sound like," Gurnard said. "When I found these big orchard mower blades I picked them up I hit them. There was something about the age when it was made. It was an exceptional quality. The sound, it was just pure. When comparing the two sounds it was a perfect fourth."

Gurnard explained on a musical scale there are intervals so if you are playing a musical scale in the key of C, the fourth note up is F, and so the interval between two notes is a fourth, called a perfect fourth.

Everyday for Gurnard is surrounded by music. He practices around two-to-four hours a day, rehearses with the band, and provides musical support for various Army funerals at Arlington Cemetery.

Gurnard said the opportunity to perform at the presidential inaugural parade is an honor, but it's also a lot of work. The week before the parade the band rehearses on the street at 2 a.m. On the day of the parade the band started at 4:45 a.m. with another rehearsal then transported to Andrew's Air Force Base to cover security procedures. After the three hours of safety procedures, the band was transported to the staging area where they listened to open remarks and watched the speech.

When the President was ready, the band started marching with the President and his entourage following.

"I focus on the job at hand and make sure what I do is excellent. When you are a part of the parade you are a member of a great big event," Gurnard said. "It's exciting to be a part of it but when crunch time comes its like when the Bulldogs take the field Friday night. You are excited but it's time to focus and whether it's Moe Roberts making the play on the field or me making the play at the parade you have to keep your excitement under wraps until the job is done."

Gurnard said as exciting as the parade can be, he enjoys performing at the inaugural balls because the band gets to perform for the president and first lady's dance. He said after performing for the first dance of George and Laura Bush, the President personally thanked him.

Even though Gurnard is living across the country in Virginia and playing in the U.S. Army Band, Cashmere is still his hometown. He said his encouragement for his teacher Johnson pushed him to pursuer his career and without Johnson he wouldn't be where he is now.

"We all have those people in our lives that made the difference to pursue our dreams we have. Often it goes back to the high school teachers who took a few moments to show encouragement," Gurnard said. "Who would have expected someone from Cashmere, who grew up in an apple orchard, would be where I am today. It's truly an honor."

Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or

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