David Whitman

headshot of David Whitman

Lecturer, Percussion Methods



Primary Email: [email protected]


David Whitman is an internationally renowned recording artist, and one of Southern California’s preeminent percussionists. Praised for his versatility and musicianship, he possesses a high level of skill across a broad range of percussion styles and ensemble situations. Critics provide affirmation ; “His spirit echoes the playing of Art Blakey,” and “his goal of capturing the high standards of … prestigious jazz labels is dazzlingly achieved,” with playing that is hailed as “swinging,” “mesmerizing,” and “invigorating,” with “mesmerizing brushwork,” “youthful exuberance,” and “deft technical skill.”

Dr. Whitman holds a B.A. in Music from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, a M.M. in Percussion Performance and Pedagogy from Kansas State University, and a D.M.A. in Percussion Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Southern Mississippi. He has been a member of the music faculty at San Diego State University since 2011. Since then he has also served as Adjunct Percussion Faculty at San Diego Christian College, and six years teaching percussion and music production at Guajome Park Academy, where he served for three years in an instructional leadership role as the arts and technology department head. He has presented and performed at regional, state, and national conventions and guest cliniced, instructed, and/or arranged for dozens of high school and college drumlines and ensembles.

Dr. Whitman was the Jazz Band Director at the University of Wisconsin-Stout during the 2004-2005 academic year, and as a teaching assistant he was responsible for big band jazz ensemble (UWEC), latin jazz ensemble (KSU), drum line (KSU, USM), percussion ensemble (KSU, USM), applied percussion lessons (KSU,USM), percussion methods (KSU, USM), basketball athletic bands (USM). In 2013 Dr. Whitman taught and performed in a brief residency at Kyushu Lutheran College in Japan. Additionally, he has been a contributing author to Percussive Notes (the only peer reviewed journal for percussion) and has published musical arrangements/compositions with GPG Music and Really Good Music, and is working on a book contract for a large publisher in Nashville. He has served as an adjudicator for the International ENKOR competitions since 2014—-a series of international competitions held virtually for many categories of solo and chamber performance.

Dr. Whitman performed on the jazz big band recording Things to Come while a student at UWEC, which was nominated for a GRAMMY. His 2016 jazz album Oh, Clara! received **Best Album: Jazz Instrumental** at the 2018 Independent Music Awards (held at the Lincoln Center), as well as a Best Producer nomination. In 2020, his jazz album Soul Flow received nominations for Best Blues Song (“Shuffle Blues”), Best Jazz Song (“With Love”), and Best Producer (David Whitman and Chris Montgomery). It also received Silver Medallion recognition in the Global Music Awards in the categories of Composition, Jazz, Album, and Sound Engineering. His most recent album Oh, Hugo!, is now out on Ropeadope Records and has won a handful of international awards and recognitions (including Global Music Awards).

A REMO artist/educator, David has, so far, performed professionally (or recorded his own music) with Johnny Mathis, Itzhak Perlman, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Pete Townshend, Geoffrey Keezer, The Who, Bernadette Peters, Ledisi, Roger Nierenberg, John Wooton, Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra, Chippewa Valley Symphony, Meridian Symphony Orchestra, California Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Lyric Opera, Carnival Cruise Lines, San Diego Winds, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Opera, San Diego City Ballet, and has regularly been the percussionist at the San Diego Civic Theater for Broadway tours, and a host of other ensembles and artists.

He has received special recognition for “outstanding contribution to the Kansas State University Symphony Band and Marching Band,” and is a member of the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the National Music Honor Society of Pi Kappa Lambda, Golden Key International Honor Society, and The National Scholars Honor Society. He is also a member of the Percussive Arts Society and Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity, and an honorary member of the Junior National Young Leaders Conference, to which he has nominated and sent many students.

His most recent solo work, “Hope,” premiered at the April 2021 Ropeadope Records Music and Arts Festival, and is a work about depression and struggle, as much as hope and light. In 2020 he composed “FAIR WAYNE” in response to the 2020 Supreme Court decision to deny Fair Wayne Bryant’s request for review of his sentencing. In December 2019, The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire awarded David The President’s Award—-a highly scrutinized award for success in the chosen field and the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an alumnus of the school. In the 2021-2022 season he world premiered two major new Broadway musicals (Bhangin’ It, and Witnesses) as well as a new opera by Gabriela Lena Frank. Matthew Campbell dedicated an advanced solo for drum set and sampler pads to David, and they are currently collaborating on the recording. David resides in southern California with his wife and two children.