Jack of musical trades prepares to teach

Kendall Aronson, Campus Carrier Asst Arts & Living Editor

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Senior Conor Wheeler plays piano. Wheeler has been playing piano for 15 years. 

Like many students at Berry, senior Conor Wheeler is spread thin. Despite balancing academics, athletics, singing and practicing three instruments, classmates and professors describe him as the definition of calm. In Phi Mu Alpha, Berry’s men’s music fraternity,  they call him Lebowski, based on the character in “The Big Lebowski.” 

“He’s a very talented musician,” Kris Carlisle, associate professor of music, said. “He’s very funny, and he has a very dry sense of humor and so do I, and so I enjoy that a lot.”

Conor Wheeler is a senior music education major. He plays french horn, piano, trumpet and is involved in band, orchestra and chorus at Berry. He has been in the a cappella group on campus, Berry Voices, and played piano for the theater production of “Cabaret.” On top of that he’s on the rowing team.

Carlisle has taught Wheeler in Music Theory, which music students take for multiple years, and has worked with Wheeler as his piano instructor for the past four years. Carlisle has seen Wheeler develop a lot over the years as both a student and a person, and has seen his interests shift from performance to teaching. 

Wheeler would like to eventually teach high school chorus, but he is looking at going to graduate school next year, ideally at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He will likely major in piano performance.

“I started taking piano lessons when I was in first grade,” Wheeler said. “Then when I got into middle school I started playing trumpet in the band.” 

He currently works as tutor for music theory and a student teacher in Cartersville and as a student assistant for Stefanie Cash, assistant professor of music and director of music education. In addition to that, he normally practices at least 10 to 12 hours per week. 

Paul Neal is an associate professor of music and director of choral activities at Berry. He has taught Wheeler in choir, Berry Voices and conducting. Neal says that he has seen him grow as a singer over the years. 

“I’ve really seen him blossom as a leader in the choir,” Neal said.

Neal says Wheeler often helps others who are struggling with their own parts in the choir, and he is a strong vocal presence as well.

“Conor is a very calm soul,” Neal said. “It’s really great to have someone like that when a lot of musicians are really high strung.”

Wheeler enjoys the close relationships he’s been able to develop with the faculty at Berry. 

“They’re all really great resources for music, as well as general life advice,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler loves music, and it has made a large impact on his life, and he hopes to keep piano performance and teaching in his life.

“Music has been a very large part of my life so far,” Wheeler said. “So being able to work with it and have it grow with me has been a really fun and exciting experience.”

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