Robert Conger is a professor in the Department of Music, a career he feels was destiny.
“I love music and have loved it with a passion since I was a young child. I could not see myself doing anything other than music,” he says.
His academic areas of interest are music education, jazz and trombone. He teaches lessons on trombone and euphonium, conducts both Southeast jazz ensembles, loves concert band, teaching music education courses and conducting for music majors.
Robert is a native of Wilkes Barre, Pa., but he grew up in Haddonfield, N.J., and Falls Church, Va. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from East Carolina University, Master’s of Music in music theory and composition from Northwestern University and his doctorate in musical arts in trombone performance from North Texas State University.
Robert began his career as a substitute teacher in Champaign Illinois, but after a year, he moved to North Carolina and began teaching in Hartsville, S.C.
“I team-taught in a band program with a terrific teacher who swiftly became my teaching mentor. I learned a lot in the three years I taught with him and grew very fond of teaching young students,” he says.
Southeast gives him the opportunity to do the two things he loves, which are play music and teach students. He plays trombone in the Paducah Symphony as well as the Southeast faculty brass quintet and the Jazz Sultans.
“Teaching music educators how to teach intrigues me. It is my way to give back to the education profession. I also love playing trombone, and this job affords me the opportunity to play a lot, “he says.
“I have loads of favorite moments at Southeast, but my favorite was in 2008 when I accompanied the Studio Jazz Band and the Golden Eagles to Scotland for the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. We had an absolutely fabulous time learning about another culture as well as making music. The Scots were simply wild about our music as were the people from many nations who attended the Tattoo,” he says.
“I am fairly laid back in the classroom but expect a lot out of my students. I am a very student-oriented individual which means simply that I am willing to do whatever it takes to help them on their road. I am here because of them, not the other way around, so I am very aware of that point and work hard to help them succeed,” he says.
Robert has been teaching at Southeast since the fall of 2004 and he offers this advice to students:
“Every failure is an opportunity in disguise. Keep on trying to succeed no matter what and eventually you will. Also enjoy what you do. This time in college is a special time, don’t waste it on the wrong things, but spend it on the important things such as making lifelong friends and learning.
In his spare time, Robert enjoys golfing and playing chess. He also enjoys traveling with his wife Kelly and playing with his dogs, Satchmo and Pippy.