Non-traditional student returns to school as music major to play trumpet

William David Roach

William David Roach

William David Roach is a senior, music major at Missouri Southern.

A passionate musician, the non-traditional student has had an unusual and fascinating journey to arrive at Southern.

Initially, from Columbia, South Carolina, Roach quit his studies in 2014 and moved to Florida where he began working at a local music store.

There, he met Professor Freddie Green who comes to the shop as a customer. The two connect and Green invites Roach to study in Joplin.

Two years later, Roach agreed and with Green’s integrates into the school’s music program.

“He was a saver for me,” Roach said. “He encouraged me to follow my dreams and believed in me.”

Roach began playing trumpets when he was in the sixth grade. Naturally talented at it, Roach said he enjoyed play the instrument from the beginning. It is also an instrument his mother plays frequently.

He said being a musician takes a lot of practice and patience. Each day, Roach spends from three to five hours in practice – although he admits he never does it continuously, but rather breaking it small sessions during breaks in his schedule.

Despite the hard work, Roach enjoys playing. He likes to underline the quote that his professor told him once: “if you are not putting eight hours a day towards something related to music, you need to find a new profession.”

Even if, he doesn’t always enjoy practicing, Roach said he is passionate about music.

“Music is a very emotional thing,” he said. “I give my work to the audience, and they show appreciation.”

The main difficulty Roach encounters as a musician, is the ability to create a story behind each piece. Portraying a story through the instrument to the audience is a skill he learned at Southern.

“In order to have a good performance you need to be connected to the spectators,” Roach said, admitting even today, he still struggles with this concept.

Roach said he’s learned to use meditation, as well as the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi, in order to help him relax before performances. He also makes sure he spends time relaxing before each session.

“I like the nervousness, I like the feeling after the achievement, the gratitude and the relief that it brings,” Roach said.

During his time at Southern, Roach has been in Maddison Scouts, traveling around the United States for performances.

He suggests those who wish to major in music, to remember passion is key to any success.

“It is hard, there are lots of competitions, many hours of practice and dedication, but it is worth it,” Roach said.

Roach hopes to become a professor, focusing on trumpet music. He hopes to convey his own passion, to help his students develop a love of music. He also wants to continue to perform.

“As long as I can do those two things on a high level, I would feel happy,” Roach said.