Pianists on campus reaching out
October 4, 2011
By Melissa Pinhal
Dr. Diane Earle, a professor at Kentucky Wesleyan for 28 years and a musician for 47 years, founded the Panther Pianists this summer. The Panther Pianists is a group of 24 young musicians here at KWC that perform at assisted-living centers for senior citizens on Thursdays, with more dates being planned.
The Panther Pianists was founded based on the love of music and love of sharing music. The group is completely voluntary and flexible; members are allowed to perform “whenever they feel ready, have time, and want to share,” said Dr. Earle. She feels that it’s important to gain supportive feedback and experience performing in front of a crowd instead of staying alone in a room practicing. “It’s rewarding for not only the musicians but also for the audiences.”
Sunny Lu, a junior who came to Kentucky Wesleyan from China to study music, has been playing the piano for 16 years, and is an active member of the Panther Pianists. In describing the overall vibe of the group she said, “I always hope they’ll love the music. I would love to play every time (there is a performance)." They perform different genres of music, from classical to contemporary.
Sometimes the musicians in the Panther Pianists even take requests from their audiences, playing completely impromptu. “That part is a lot of fun,” Dr. Earle smiled. “They’ll sometimes ask, and one of us usually knows it. If we don’t, we can usually play it by ear.” That shows the true talent each member possesses as well as each member’s dedication to putting on a truly enjoyable show for audiences.
One of the greatest things about performing in these centers is that it allows for vast interpretations of music. It’s a great opportunity, according to Earle, for her students to perform in low-pressure environments with friendly and appreciative listeners. Collin MacQuarrie, a senior Spanish major and Music minor who performed throughout the summer agreed with this statement, saying that the environment is “low-pressure and comfortable” and that he’s allowed “freedom” with his performances.
Josh Eaves, a senior Music Industry major and a pianist for 15 years, spoke enthusiastically about his favorite part of performing with the Panther Pianists: the freedom provided to him through the environment. “I love to share my interpretations of the music with them, and they’re always very friendly and accepting of it. It’s great for practice, and I plan to continue those performances in the future.”
Though this talented group currently only has dates at senior citizen centers, Dr. Earle said that they will perform anywhere they’re invited.