Born in Cleveland, Ohio Jerry Willard’s first teacher was his father, Jeff Willard, an accomplished guitarist in his own right. The guitar pedagogue, Sophocles Papas recognized Jerry's talent and invited him to study in Washington, D.C. Jerry Willard studied with guitarists, Richard Lurie and Alirio Diaz, who developed his musical and technical approach to the guitar. He also worked with violinist, Misha Mishakoff and cellist, Warren Downs who expanded his knowledge of musical interpretation.
Mr. Willard has performed at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York City. He has concertized extensively throughout Europe and The United States. Raymond Ericson of the New York Times wrote, "The recital was exemplary. Mr. Willard took lute in hand for some pieces by Adrian LeRoy and John Dowland and turned that normally pale-sounding predecessor of the guitar into a brilliant and vivid instrument. Back with the guitar, the performer played his own transcriptions of Bach's Lute Suite in E minor and five dances from Britten's Gloriana' plus Henze's attractive `Drei Tentos'. It was again the clarity of Mr. Willard's playing that gave special pleasure."
Willard is an accomplished player of all types of fretted instruments including the archlute, Renaissance lute, Baroque guitar, nineteenth century guitar, and modern guitar. Well known as an ensemble player, Mr. Willard has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, The New York Opera Company, The New York Consort of Viols, and The Queen’s Chamber Band.
Willard has published many publications for guitar including "The Complete Lute Music of J.S. Bach" and “The Complete Works of Gaspar Sanz” both available through Music Sales Corporation. Mr. Willard records for Lyrichord Discs. He has recorded music for arch-lute, Baroque Guitar and Renaissance lute. He has just finished a recording of opera potpourris by Giuliani and Mertz on a Lacote guitar made in Paris in 1820. Mr. Willard resides in New York City and is on the faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.