Hayley Varhol


Still kinda bummed she gave her awesome hat to Adam for the photo shoot.

I grew up in Bristol, CT and got my first instrument (flute) in fourth grade, my second (trombone) in ninth grade, my third (saxophone) in tenth grade, and my baritone I got in… roughly twenty-fourth grade. That’s right—I’ve been in school that long, because I’m a teacher. I love teaching music, because you never, ever stop learning new things or meeting new people. Also, when you’re surrounded by teenagers, every day is uniquely challenging and entertaining. I especially enjoy flummoxing the young’ns with terrible puns.

My weirdest musical influence is probably the large amount of Revolutionary War Era music I heard growing up, even wombside. My dad plays snare drum in a fife and drum corps, and summer weekends were spent at parades that ended in “musters,” or jam sessions in dusty baseball fields full of tents and people in various states of undress (understandable in summertime, considering the fashions of 1776). I fell asleep most nights to the folksongs of Priscilla Herdman, and did my chores to the Beatles, or bluegrass, or big band music.

I knew in high school that I wanted to be a band director, so I went to Temple University to earn a BM in Music Education while studying bass trombone with Tyrone Breuninger (badass dude who played with the Philadelphia Orchestra for 30+ years). After a year of long-term sub jobs, I landed at William Penn Charter School and taught symphonic band, jazz band, chamber ensembles, pit orchestra, and group lessons. In 2011, I became a Master of Music Education at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago.

I am passionate about the way music brings people together, which is why I’ve been a member of over 20 different ensembles in my 15+ years in the Philadelphia area. Big bands, symphony orchestras, wind ensembles, brass quintets, jazz combos, Irish folk, salsa, polka… like a frenzied Happy Meal toy enthusiast, I want to collect them all! I was also a founding member and Artistic Director of the newly-revived Philadelphia Freedom Band, a community ensemble dedicated to LGBTQ advocacy.

WPO happened to me almost by accident, and I’m SO glad it did. I was watching the band play in the spring of 2012, and at the break I found Adam to say hello and give props to the band. He told me I should sit in sometime, I did, and many of my happiest days since then have been spent making music with these wonderful people.