“Dr. Don Odom dreamed of the day his students and faculty would be playing Steinway pianos,” said Sally Coveleskie, national director of higher education for Steinway & Sons, Inc. in New York. “He worked tirelessly to keep that vision alive, knowing that by achieving it, he would leave a legacy that would offer pianists at William Carey University tools that would allow them to become the best they can be . . . making the world, especially their corner of the world, a better place for all.”
The All-Steinway School designation means William Carey University has made a commitment to excellence by providing students and faculty members with the best instruments possible for the study of music.
“The All-Steinway status is another step in Carey's quest for quality,” said WCU President Tommy King.
Student Claire Kelley said, “It means the department and the school really cares, and they want us to have the best musical experience possible.”
During the course of the All-Steinway campaign, the university purchased 22 Steinway and Steinway-designed pianos to place in the Thomas Fine Arts Center auditorium, recital hall, practice rooms, faculty offices, and Bass Memorial Chapel.
Student Nick Joslin, a junior majoring in piano and vocal performance, said it is “encouraging, and inspiring” to play on a Steinway.
“It’s amazing,” said Rosa Gaines, a junior majoring in music therapy. “Our School of Music is definitely growing, and this is a huge step in the right direction.”
Brian Murphy, assistant professor of music, said being an All-Steinway School lends a certain atmosphere to the School of Music. He has already noticed a difference in how students approach their practice time at the piano. They seem to treat each performance opportunity as a privilege.
“The relationship with Steinway is unique,” Murphy said. “It’s a collaboration between the musician and the instrument. There is a symbiotic and tangible relationship between the pianist and the piano, in which both make the other even better.”
Gaines said that although piano is not her primary musical interest, when she plays at the Steinway piano she is surprised at how well her pieces sound.
“As a vocalist, singing with a Steinway brings out a different tone in your voice as well,” said Claire Kelly, a junior double majoring in vocal performance and theatre.
During the All-Steinway presentation, Murphy shared his memories of how Dr. Odom remained dedicated to the cause even after the 2017 tornado and even as his illness prevented him from being on campus. Coincidentally, the order for the last pianos was placed on Nov. 7, which was also the last time Dr. Odom was on campus. “I told him, ‘We did it Doc.’ And he said, ‘Now keep it going.’”
Murphy assured the audience that although all the pianos have been purchased, this is not the end. “Today is the very beginning of something as we look forward to continuing to raise the bar of musical excellence in our community and in our region.”
The Winters School of Music and Ministry Studies has established the Donald R. Odom Steinway Series in memory of Dr. Odom. The fund will serve to host guest artists annually in order to provide the highest quality of music available to Carey students and the community.
“Something has come to life here because of Dr. Odom and because of all of you,” Coveleskie said. “Generations of students will thank you both publicly and privately for your contributions, and for your belief that they can reach unimaginable heights.”