The Life of Peter J. LaRue

I was born a little north of here at a place where it seemed like it was always way hot in the summer, way cold in the winter. Childhood memories involved a lot of work and sweat, although I had a lot of friends [even though they were all four-legged, black and rather large].

When I was four-less than one score, my heart yearned for a motorcycle, as it turns out for that birthing day rather than the Honda I desired, an old, strangely shaped piece of brass came my way.

A few years later, at about the same time a little stubble began to appear on my chinny-chin-chin, I took the strangely shaped piece of brass and went to the big city, a place they called a conservatory where I thought I would learn more about green, growing things. As it turns out, that assumption was incorrect, but I sure did learn a lot [mostly about the joys of life that they had neglected to mention back home on the farm]. Even though at one point I tested the laws of gravity, the years in the big city were a downright delight.

Subsequent to those joyful years, I took the advice of Horace Greeley [just a few years late] and headed west. I found myself in a place where there were seemingly no trees, the terrain redefined flat, it was always windy, but there were surely a whole lot of really, really bright folks about. Although the place always struck me as pretty barren, there was a little white house on Michigan Avenue [acknowledging that I was genetically wired to dislike anything pertaining to Michigan, this was an exception] in which lived two wonderful people who changed my life. After a joyful year I returned to the land of my forbearers.

During the next four years, I spent an inordinate amount of time beating and abusing a large group of boy children and girl children as they tromped around a large field banging and blowing upon assorted apparati. My life was enhanced and enriched during these years by many wonderful folks, one in particular, a fine lady from Arab, Alabama – who first taught me about a religious sect who were very enthusiastic about water.

After these very good years, for absolutely no good reason, I decided to head west again and return to that barren land where the really, really smart people were. There, in the trenches with some really fine folks, they graciously added more letters after my name [which was now starting to get a bit cluttered] and I had to spend more than a bit of time explaining to my aging grandmother why I did not need to hire any nurses.

Because the really bright people in the prairie had honed my thought processes [to their way of thinking] I realized that I had developed the desire to eat. Shrewdly using the employment criteria of “mostly indoor work, no heavy lifting” my poor 4-cylinder Ford and I found ourselves in the land of the long-leaf pine. From a topological standpoint, I seemingly had gone from one extreme to the other and I quickly realized that I loved [and do to this day] that which was behind door number two.  There I met and worked with many great people, one especially … a tall, soft-spoken gent, who tried to get me to understand there were two shades of blue, one lighter, one darker, and he most-enthusiastically supported the latter over the former. While in this beautiful place, I waved that bizarre little stick around a bit and blew rather often on that strangely-shaped hunk of metal that long had been a part of my life. There were many good times, some bad times, and it became clear it was time to move on.

To this end, Blaze [trust me a step-up from the Ford] brought me to the Commonwealth where this really snappy institution adopted me. Upon arrival in this beautiful place, I was pleasantly surprised [and contrary to popularly-held belief] that most of the folks did indeed wear shoes and have teeth. It seemed like a winner to me [it was, is and hopefully always shall be]. And so here in the Bluegrass I have now found myself for the past twenty-one years [which shows an obvious lack of initiative on my part, don’t you think].

The great people, the incredible music-making … too numerous to remember, too important to forget. My “crowded-stage” is so chock-full of wonderful folks that it is no wonder I need a great deal of space around me as I wave that little stick around [plus I have a tendency to drip sweat on those faithful in my beloved “FRC” (aka Front Row Crew)]. I have been more blessed than I merit, way luckier than I deserve.

So Junior and I live [formerly without a cat] our semi-frenetic life at Shenandoah and cherish each and all. Maybe if I behave, I’ll have twenty-one more years of great experiences. I sure look forward to it. Thanks, Thanks & Thanks.

Most Warmly,
Pete(r)
February 2014

... or if you prefer something a bit more formal ...

Peter J. LaRue was raised on a farm in south central Ohio and received his undergraduate education at the Capital University Conservatory of Music (1979). His master's (1980) and doctoral (1986) degrees are from the University of Illinois, where he specialized in the study of instrumental music education, bands and the trombone. His teachers and mentors have included Paul Young, Richard Suddendorf, Robert Gray, Charles Leonhard and E. Wayne Pressley.

Dr. LaRue serves as Director of the Tiger Bands and Professor of Music at Georgetown College. From 1995-2017 LaRue also served as the Executive Director of Summer Programs and Camps [SP&C] at Georgetown College overseeing the growth, development and daily management of this extensive unit. Prior to his move to Kentucky in 1993, he served for seven years as Director of Bands at Mars Hill College in western North Carolina. Previous to this appointment, he was Director of Music for the Bloom Carroll local school district in central Ohio, where he directed the award winning “Marching Bulldog” band for four years. In the past, he has also served as low brass specialist with the Cavalier and Blue Knight Drum and Bugle Corps.

In addition to his duties at Georgetown College, from 1994 until 2014 LaRue served as the Music Director and Conductor of the Central Kentucky Concert Band in Lexington, Kentucky. He has adjudicated marching and concert band festivals in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Nevada, and serves as clinician/conductor throughout the southeast.

In 2005, LaRue received the prestigious Cawthorne Excellence in Teaching Award – the highest honor Georgetown College may bestow upon a faculty member. He also has received the Lindsey Apple Student Life Award [2010], the Milton “Shorty” Price – Tiger Athletics Hall of Fame Award [2010], the Rollie Graves Technology Award [2000] and was honored with the John Walker Manning Distinguished Mentor and Teacher Award in 1998. LaRue was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 2003.

From 2002-2004, LaRue served on the Board of Directors for KMEA [Kentucky Music Educators Association] and chaired the Public Relations and Advocacy Committee. In the past he has also served as both “Coordinator” of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Band [1997-1999] and “Co-Coordinator” [2001, 2003 & 2007] that performs each year at the KMEA In-Service Conference in Louisville. In 1998, LaRue was also made an honorary “Kentucky Colonel” by Governor Paul Patton. LaRue is an active author, being frequently published in state and regional periodicals and was honored in 2001 as he was selected to be a contributing author to the MENC text “Spotlight on Teaching Band”. Additionally, he has played trombone with several regional orchestras across the south, and from 1987-95 was a member of the Appalachian Brass Quintet with whom he performed regularly at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. LaRue continues to be an active performer on his beloved trombone across the Commonwealth.

LaRue served as the Faculty Advisor [High Pi] for the Georgetown College chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha for seven years and was named the Outstanding Fraternity Advisor in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. International study/performance trips have taken him abroad twice, where he has performed in both Europe and the former Soviet Union. 

August 2017