Stewart began playing drums and orchestral percussion professionally when still a teenager, most notably with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the orchestras of the National Ballet of Canada and the Canadian Opera Company. He has recorded for CBC radio and television, backed headliners at Royal York’s Imperial Room, performed musicals at the Stratford Festival, Petrolia’s Victoria Playhouse and Toronto’s O’Keefe – now the Sony – Centre, and was a member of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Maracaibo in Venezuela and the orchestra of the Festival de Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy.
Stewart began studying drums, jazz vibraphone and percussion in Toronto, and continued his musical education in New York City with vibraphonist David Friedman. After attending the Institute of Advanced Musical Studies in Montreux, Switzerland, he studied percussion with Elden C. “Buster” Bailey at the Juilliard School, where he received his Bachelor and Master Degrees in Percussion.
Along with performing, Stewart has had a lifelong involvement in percussion education. He has taught drums, percussion and jazz vibraphone privately throughout his career and in 1987 received his Ontario teaching certificate. He subsequently taught junior high school and high school band programs for several years. Today, Stewart teaches percussion and directs the percussion ensemble at Crescent School in Toronto and teaches privately from his studio.
An interest in writing led Stewart to journalism studies at Toronto’s Ryerson University. His numerous feature articles on music and the arts have appeared in many of Canada’s leading periodicals, including the National Post, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Toronto Life magazine, Homemaker’s magazine, Performance magazine, and the Performance magazines for Roy Thomson Hall/Massey Hall, the Toronto Symphony and the Hummingbird Centre. A number of his articles appear on this site.
Stewart’s decades of experience as a percussionist, teacher and writer came together in the development of his new book, The Band Teacher’s Percussion Guide: Insights into Playing and Teaching Percussion (Oxford University Press).
The online version of Stewart’s The Band Teacher’s Percussion Guide: Insights into Playing and Teaching Percussion first appeared in 2007. A series of articles designed specifically to address the needs and answer the questions of band directors, the Website’s success led to the greatly expanded and much more comprehensive publication of the same name, released in March 2017.