Richard  Cole

Richard Cole

Associate Professor - Music History, Multimedia

Richard Cole taught in public schools for many years before joining the faculty at Virginia Tech in 1971. At Virginia Tech he has served as Chairman of the Music Program and as Associate Head of the Department of Music.  He currently teaches Music History with an emphasis on American Music.

Contact Me

(540) 231-6116
242-E Squires (0138)
290 College Avenue
Blacksburg, VA 24061


Areas of Expertise

  • Music History and Literature
  • Research/Production: Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
  • Teaching Areas: Piano, American Music, & General Music

Education & Training

  • M.A., Indiana State University
  • B.S., Indiana State University

Who has most influenced you? Why? 

Three of my piano teachers were very influential in my decision to pursue the arts. Earliest was Miss Johnson, my piano teacher in the early 1940s. My brother and I studied with her and were privileged to go with her to hear the Chicago Symphony (conducted by Frederick Stock) at Symphony Hall, Chicago. These experiences probably fostered my love for piano and orchestral music. The second teacher was Floyd Robbins in Lincoln, Nebraska. I would ride the trolly into town to take my lesson every Saturday morning. He introduced me to Chopin, who remains a life-long favorite of mine. My third teacher was Vivien Bard, with whom I studied for five years during my college years at Indiana State University. She taught me many techniques she had learned as a student of Joseph Levine. All three of these teachers were completely dedicated to music and to teaching, and instilled in me a love for the same things.

Of course I had other piano teachers for shorter periods of time who also influenced me. I grew up in an art-centered family where my grandparents, parents, siblings, children and grandchildren, uncles, aunts, and cousins all participated in the arts of one kind or the other. So pursuing a life in the arts was almost a given. If I had a 'do-over', would I do it again?  Of course I would! What else is there?

What do you most enjoy about your work?

There is always something new in the arts, something to be discovered, a new color, timbre, combination, something to learn. There is always a new dedicated student willing to learn and explore.

What is your favorite place on campus? Why?

My favorite place? Probably my office/studio. I have had eight (8) different offices on campus: War Memorial Gym, PAB, Patton, Lane, and Squires. Squires is the best but not perfect. It is small, but I do have almost everything needed to work, prepare, listen, consult, have a cup of coffee, meet with students and faculty.

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