Hometown: Canton, Ohio
High School valedictorian, Louisville (Ohio) Class of 1976
Bachelor of music in piano performance, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Master of music in piano performance, The Ohio State University
Doctor of musical arts in piano performance and literature – Began at Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y., finished at The Ohio State University
Postdoctoral study, Indiana University, Music Academy of the West, Blossom Festival School and New York City
When did you begin at Wesleyan?
“Fall 1984 – Wesleyan was my first full-time college teaching position, as I had just finished my doctorate in June 1984.”
What stands out in your memories from your first year at Wesleyan?
“I was so young! It was strange being a professor and not a student! My office and classrooms were up on the fourth floor of the Administration Building, as that was where music used to be. I used to climb those stairs several times each day, as there was no elevator then!”
You are very well-established and well-known around the country and in many places in the world. Obviously, Wesleyan means something very special to you. Why did you choose to stay here? You must have had many opportunities over the years.
“Thank you! Yes, I have had opportunities to go elsewhere, but I love Wesleyan and Owensboro. I love the variety of what I do here, a combination of teaching a variety of music courses and subjects, performing, chamber music, and music program administrative duties. I would be bored if I only taught one subject. I also love being active in the musical life of our community, and I am heavily involved with the symphony, RiverPark, school programs, assisted care facilities, many varied gigs, Settle Memorial United Methodist Church, etc. I feel ‘needed’ in Owensboro.”
What do you love most about campus?
“The students are so kind and friendly and wonderful. I also enjoy my colleagues and making music all day.”
What are your hopes for Wesleyan and the music department in the near future?
“I love Wesleyan, as I have spent my entire adult life here. So I am quite invested in its success. It is a great school! I hope we can increase our enrollment and continue to get wonderful donations to ensure even more growth and success. I also love the service our students do in the community. I encourage my piano students to do that with our ‘Panther Pianists’ program, where each week we go to various assisted care centers and share music and smiles.”
What lessons from your parents do you still live by today?
“My Mom and Dad gave me incredible gifts; a Christian faith and the opportunity for piano lessons. My family, religion and the piano have been the three constants in my life, and all are very important to me. I cannot imagine living without my faith. I have played the piano since age six and celebrated my fiftieth anniversary with it a year ago! I talk with my folks on the phone every day. They are 86 and mean the world to me.”
What are some items on your bucket list?
“Ha! A Harvard study years ago found that the average age for pianists was 56. So, when I got near 56 years old, I set out to finish my “bucket list” and did. It was mostly traveling, and I have been blessed to go to four continents, walk on the Great Wall of China, see the Olympic torch passed in Beijing, cruise the Danube River, see Bach and Beethoven’s graves, go on a singing gondola ride in Venice, go to top of Eiffel Tower at night, etc. I don’t know that I have any more bucket list items and usually am happy with whatever the day brings.”
What were you like in high school?
“A nerd. I studied hard so that I could get scholarships to college and practiced the piano a lot. I was also very active in National Forensic League, pianist for my church, accompanist for high school choir, debate club, Bible Club and National Honor Society. My high school inducted me into their “Wall of Fame” several years ago, and it was fun to go back and visit. I loved algebra and won statewide awards for algebra in the state of Ohio. When I retire, I’d like to take an algebra class again.”
Tell us about a mentor(s) who has guided you.
“I have been blessed with many wonderful mentors: my folks, several piano teachers and musicians, some great colleagues. I don’t want to name specific people, because so many people have been so fabulous. I wouldn’t want to hurt feelings by leaving anyone out, but scores of people have been incredible in mentoring me.”
How do you like to spend a Saturday afternoon?
“Practicing the piano, taking a nap, reading a good novel and eating pretzels and Diet Pepsi.”
The obvious question – what musical piece(s) is your favorite – to perform or to enjoy someone else performing?
“Of course, I have to be the performer! “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin, for piano and orchestra. It has become one of my ‘signature pieces.’”
Tell us about your role and responsibilities at Settle Memorial and what those duties mean to you.
“I am the music director of the traditional services. I conduct the choir, men’s and women’s ensembles, handbell choir and assist with special music and other miscellaneous music stuff. I would attend church anyway, so enjoy helping the music and aiding in a blessed worship experience for the congregation. I also like to integrate Kentucky Wesleyan with Settle, like inviting the choir and band to participate in worship services, music student interns, joint concerts for special events, etc.”
Tell us about your favorites!
Food – “Pork roast, German food (I love carbs like noodles), maraschino cherries, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!”
Vacation spot – “My folks’ home in Canton, Ohio, Hong Kong, Paris, Pittsburgh (My family always had fun day trips there every summer!), New York, Prague
Book – “The Bible; I have read it through many times and love, love, love It!”
Movie – “The Sound of Music”
You are inviting five people to dinner. Who (living, dead, fictional) would you invite to ensure an interesting and fun evening for you?
“Bach, perhaps my favorite composer, as his music is searingly beautiful.
Beethoven, who composed some of the most passionate and transforming music after he lost his hearing and had to only imagine it in his head and write it down.
The disciple Peter, because we both love Jesus but sometimes mess it up, and I would love to hear about all of his personal travels with Jesus, as well as his later discipleship and martyrdom.
Clara Schumann, an important pianist of the 19th century who was one of the first important women in music! She was also the first pianist to play from memory, which became a tradition. What was she thinking? Ha!
Clark Gable, as he would certainly make my dining room look gorgeous.”
What is something people at Wesleyan don’t know about you?
“I was The Ohio State University Pac-Man champion for two weeks in a row in 1984!”
Thank you for your time, Dr. Earle, and for all you do for Kentucky Wesleyan and the community.