Since 2016, Dr. Keith Talley has served as the chairman for Missouri Southern’s music department.

However, this was not the start of his career here at Southern. Before pursuing his advanced degrees at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Michigan State University, Talley was first a music education major at Southern.

Before starting his career as an educator at Southern, Talley spent 10 years at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, where he served as the chairman for the music department and directed the school’s jazz band.

Looking back on his days as an undergraduate, Talley remarked on the department’s growth.

“At [that] time the department was about half the size it is now,” Talley said, adding there were approximately 40 to 50 students in the department. It has now grown to approximately 100 enrolled students.

Music has always been a passion for Talley. He plays six different instruments.

While he considers himself a saxophonist, he is also proficient with the clarinet, flute, oboe, bassoon and the piano.

“Music is a calling something that you’re drawn to,” Talley said, adding this sense of purpose is why he chose to pursue teaching music as his career.

Talley believes that he has found his calling as an educator. He believes teaching others how to play instruments and make music is the best job he could have. He has no plans to stop living his dream any time soon.

Talley has many goals for the music department. One is having the music program accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. He believes this accreditation will help to set Missouri Southern apart from other area schools, showcasing what the University has available.

“That when people think of a great music program they think of us,” Talley said.

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