K-State graduation year: May 1971
Degree: BS Music
Other degree received: M.M. Master of Music from Texas in 1972 and Doctor of Musical Arts 1979 from The University of Texas-Austin
Current employer: Kansas State University
Position: Distinguished Professor of Music
Describe the process of choosing your major.
I loved the cello from the first time I picked it up at the end of 4th grade. I admired my cello teacher for twelve years, Warren Walker, who was the cello professor at K-State 1948-1987. I took over his position in 1987 when he retired. I think it was in 8th or 9th grade when I decided that I wanted to be a college professor in music. My father was a professor of education at K-State 1954-1982, so that also influenced my decision to become a University Professor. I also got a lot of positive feedback in junior and senior high school about my playing abilities.
- Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
- K-State Orchestra
I taught at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, played in the Denver Symphony (now Colorado Symphony), and taught at the University of Evansville prior to teaching at K-State.
My first job began in 1973 at the end of my Master’s. I applied to several universities, and I took two orchestra auditions before securing the job at the University of Wisconsin—Parkside, a rather new school at the time. A cello teacher at The University of Texas—Austin was helpful with the process.
In the spring, I teach cello and bass lessons, and in the fall I also teach one section of Music Theory I (MWF) and Beginning String Techniques to Music Education majors. The fall load is rather heavy. In addition, I teach 7-9 pre-college cello students at my one-room schoolhouse in the country, usually in the mid- to late afternoon. I’ve taught pre-college students for over forty years.
I really like being around students. I enjoy mentoring them in private lessons, and their youthful attitude keeps me young. In fact, I chose to ride the bus with the K-State Wind Ensemble students to NYC when we are performing in Carnegie Hall on April 7 (I’m the cello soloist on one piece.)
Dealing with the public on occasions when information is interpreted differently.
Practice a lot as a youngster because you won’t have more time once you’re out of school. Have a wide range of interests because those influence your being well rounded as a musician and as a person. I told a high school student just the other day that I’d go crazy if all I ever did was tied to music. (I love history, serving in my church, and yardwork.)
My three degrees, certainly. I also played in several different orchestras growing up and in my career, which has greatly influenced my conducting capabilities and knowledge of the orchestral repertoire.
I tell my students they have no idea what kind of things they will be doing in their music careers, and that some of them will not stay in music. I tell them that I had NO idea I would be a conductor when I graduated, and yet that is one of the most important aspects of my career. I have conducted the university orchestra at every college job I’ve had, and I also conducted the youth Gold Orchestra in Manhattan for 27 years until I retired from it in 2015.
I enjoyed my employment at both the University of Evansville and Kansas State University.
Living in Paris for seven weeks as part of a K-State Study Abroad Program in the Summer of 1968. That trip and a total of 13 European trips had a profound impact on my teaching and my personal life.
Warren Walker, cello professor at K-State 1948-1987. Also, Paul Roby, K-State Orchestra conductor.
College can’t possibly teach you everything you need to know before holding a job. On-the-job training was just as valuable as anything I learned in college. Most of the seeds for their success or failure were already there in their personalities and ability to be self-starters.