Bob Ward - Bass Trombone
My name is Bob Ward and I have been playing the bass trombone in the Grand Rapids Symphony since the fall of 1980, making this my 40th year in this amazing orchestra! I am a native of West Michigan, growing up in a small town near Kalamazoo. I come from a musical family, my mother was a vocal music major in college and played organ and sang beautiful solos at our Church.Three of my sisters are also accomplished in music and have played in orchestras and taught
music as a career. I attended Michigan State University earning my B.M. and M.M. in Music Education and Performance and I was extremely fortunate to win my position in the GRS right after I graduated. I started as a per-service musician until my position converted to full-time in 1999.
In 1986 I was hired by the Grand Rapids Public Schools to teach beginning instrumental music, then directing the middle and high school string orchestra at City High Middle School. That’s right, teaching STRINGS... and I absolutely loved it! I learned the pedagogy from textbooks and was taught to play each of the instruments in group lessons. But, I credit my wonderful string playing colleagues here in the GRS for my greatest successes! I learned the most by just
sitting in my chair in the back of the orchestra, observing and listening to all of you performing great music while I was counting measures rest. Then, picking your brains with questions and ideas about sound production, bowings, fingerings, shifting, and all kinds of string techniques. It was also a thrill for me to conduct a string ensemble, to share my musical Knowledge with young students, and to get them excited about performing classical music and attending GRS
concerts. I retired from teaching in 2012 and still miss teaching orchestra, but since then, I have been teaching lessons to trombone and euphonium students from the GR area, mostly at Rockford Schools, where I typically teach about 16 students per year.
In the summer of the year 2000 I joined the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, California formally led by Marin Alsop, now directed by Cristian Macelaru. The orchestra is made up of musicians from around the country and we perform together for 2 weeks every August, purely for the love of contemporary music and a modest salery. Most of the composers are also there, and we interact with them during and after rehearsals... Philip Glass, John Adams, Christopher Rouse just to name a few, and this year Wynton Marsalis! It is a stimulating musical environment and is some of the most challenging music I play all year, serving to “recharges my batteries” each year for the coming GRS season.
I have been married to my wife Nancy for 37 years and have four daughters ages 21, 23, 26, and 28. I also have a 13 year old dog, and two 18 year old cats. Besides music, my most loved avocation is backpacking in the wilderness, especially the mountain west, in particular the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2660 mile path in the wilderness stretching from the Mexican boarder in California, through Oregon, to the Canadian boarder in Washington, amid the tallest mountain ranges and rugged terrain in each State. I have currently completed over 1800 miles of the PCT over the past 4 years and plan to complete it next summer. If you are interested in reading my trail journals from 2017-19 and seeing lots of pictures, go to: