Bill Dempsey began playing music when he was 9 years old. His first instrument is trombone. He began playing professionally when he was still in Junior High School. As a trombonist he has performed classical music and jazz in bands and orchestras most notably for the President of the United States. He has a B.A. in Music Education from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in New Jersey. While still in college he began playing guitar. He started teaching music in the public schools in 1973. Since then he has taught music to every age group from pre-schoolers to senior citizens in groups and privately.
In 1988 Bill moved to California and began working at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, Ca. For 5 years he lived, worked, and sailed onboard the Brig Pilgrim. During that time he developed his skills as a modern day shanty man. He was involved in booking, performing, and MCing the Tall Ships Festival there for 26 years. While working at O.I. he was involved in the Outdoor Science program and contributed many of his songs about animals and the environment.
Bill has continued to expand musically over the years. Starting with guitar while still in college he has added 5 string banjo, dulcimer, harmonica, concertina, tin whistle, ukulele, etc. Through his teaching he has learned recorder, violin, flute, clarinet, sax, trumpet, baritone horn, and percussion. In 2016 he retired from full time public school teaching after over 20 years in the Santa Ana Public Schools. He continues teaching privately and performing.
The legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90. "Because I think I'm making progress" he replied.