Gary Smith received his B.A. degree from Butler University and his M.A. degree from Ball State University. He started his career as Director of Bands at Northside High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1964–68. Following, he became the Director of Bands at Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana, from 1968–72. Next, Gary was hired as Assistant Director of Bands and Marching Band Director from 1972–76 at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.
From 1976–1998 and again in 2004, Gary was the Associate Director of Bands at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where he conducted the nationally renown Marching Illini, Basketball Band, and Symphonic Band II. He also taught marching band procedures, and band arranging in the School of Music.
In 1988 Gary was elected to be a member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. In 2015, he was elected to serve as the president in 2018. In addition, he is a member of Phi Beta Mu, Phi Mu Alpha, and Kappa Kappa Psi music honorary fraternities, and participates in the College Band Director’s National Association, National Band Association, and the Florida Music Educators Association.
In 2005, he assisted with the production of the Orange Bowl Halftime. In 2007, Gary served as co-director of the Oklahoma Centennial All State Marching Band, which was featured during the 2007 Rose Bowl Parade opening ceremonies. In 2015, Gary designed and produced the Singapore Youth Honor Marching Band for the finale performance for Singapore’s 50th Anniversary of Independence Youth Celebration.
Gary is the former owner of the Smith Walbridge Clinics, a summer camp for drum majors, colorguard, marching percussion, marching band student leaders, and band directors, where he continues to serve as a clinician. Since 1949, these clinics have attracted thousands of high school and college students from across the United States, and several foreign countries.
Presently, he serves as the producer of the annual Disney Thanksgiving Parade of Bands held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. Since 1987, he has also served as the coordinator of the band festivities for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. In addition, he is the conductor of the Bonita Springs Concert Band in Bonita Springs, FL. Alongside this, he is an adjunct faculty member at the Florida Gulf Coast University, where he teaches marching band methodology.
Over his entire career, Gary has been hired as a consultant, guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States, Singapore, China, Australia, Japan, Canada, Ireland, and France. His self-published textbook, The System–Marching Band Methods, was acquired by the music publishing company GIA Publications, Inc., in 2016.