Don Gardo graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta where he studied with members of the Atlanta Symphony, retired principal trombonist Harry Maddox and tubist Michael Moore. His most influential teachers include members of the Chicago Symphony: Charles Vernon, Edward Kleinhammer, and most importantly, Arnold Jacobs. While still attending GSU, Don performed with the Atlanta Symphony, Savannah Symphony, and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Charleston, South Carolina and Spoleto, Italy.
Playing with the Atlanta Symphony took him on a Northeast tour performing Berlioz's "Requiem" in the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and Carnegie Hall in NYC. He also started doing freelance work in Atlanta, performing in orchestras for the American Ballet Theater, Henry Mancini, Doc Severinson, Peter Nero, Bob Hope, Ray Charles, and various touring Broadway musicals. Don started teaching private trombone lessons while in college and has continued to do so since then, accumulating almost 30 years of teaching experience.
One of his original students recently won the Principal Trombone position in the Utah Symphony Orchestra. Upon graduation from college, he continued performing with the Atlanta and Savannah orchestras, the Ritz Carlton Jazz Orchestra, the Colorado Philharmonic, and he eventually won the principal trombone job with the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Opera Orchestra. Recordings include two holiday big band CDs with the Ritz Carlton Orchestra, Respighi's "The Pines of Rome" and Boito's "Prologue to Mephistopheles" with the Atlanta Symphony, Robert Shaw, conducting.
Most recently and before moving back to the Atlanta area from Pittsburgh, Don performed with the Trinity Jazz Orchestra, Edgewood Symphony Orchestra and the North Pittsburgh Philharmonic. In 2004, with over 30 years playing and teaching experience, Don performed with members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in their community outreach "Side by Side" program. Don’s musical teaching philosophy can best be described as “Wind and Song”. The art of making music is of utmost importance. As long as the student has the product, or the story he/she is telling as the main thought process, the bodily functions necessary to produce the sound will respond accordingly.