Nancy Buckingham Garlick was soloing as a clarinetist with orchestras in Westchester County, New York, while still in high school. She earned music degrees at the Crane School of Music, NYSU at Potsdam, the Manhattan School of Music (during which time she played with the Opera Orchestra of New York), and a DMA from Catholic University. Further studies include work at Écoles Américaines des Beaux Arts, in Fontainebleau, France, with Mlle. Nadia Boulanger, and the Tanglewood Music Festival, where she played under Leonard Bernstein.

In 1971 she was appointed principal clarinet of the New Haven Symphony and in 1973 appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Later she began teaching at The College of Wooster (Ohio) and soon was appointed music director of The Wooster Symphony Orchestra. In 1983 she performed at Carnegie Recital Hall with the Wooster Trio.

In 1985 Garlick joined the faculty of the University of Virginia and served as director of the McIntire Chamber Music Series. During this time she also served as principal clarinetist of the Charlottesville University Symphony, the Pennsylvania Sinfonia, and the Ash Lawn Opera.

As a result of teaching a graduate course on music in Shakespeare, Garlick began an intense study of early music and recorder performance. She has participated in the Amherst Early Music Festival for several seasons and performed in many masterclasses for internationally renowned recorderists. She currently studies with Gwen Roberts. Garlick has played with an American group in Cornwall, England; Gilleleje, Denmark; and most recently, Dundee, Scotland. Currently she teaches clarinet and recorder and is a member of The Wild Geese, a Baroque ensemble, and The Crozet Recorder Quartet.