Professor Douglas Easterling came to Xavier with a single goal in mind: to embrace his passion for music while also imparting his knowledge onto eager college students.
Easterling, who is in his fourth year as a professor in the music department, is originally a native of the suburbs of Nashville, Tenn. His musical journey brought him to Cincinnati to pursue his master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.
“I was always musically inclined, and in any of my free time, I’d be thinking about music, making music, playing piano (and) singing,” Easterling said. “I decided on education originally… because I like talking about music and I like explaining it to people in a way that they probably haven’t thought about it before.”
Easterling is highly regarded for teaching one of the most interesting classes that the university has to offer, Music in Film. This course is designed for non-music majors and covers the components of a film’s musical score as well as the history behind the music used in films. Subtopics of the course include the study of directors, composers and niche film genres.
“What has kept me at Xavier is the fact that I have a good deal of flexibility with my classes,” Easterling said. “I also like the work ethic at Xavier. The students tend to be very interested in the subject matter, especially Music in Film. I like that it’s a smaller university, so there is a little bit more of a sense of community here, I think, than you might find at really large universities.”
Easterling had taught the class previously, and although a similar class was already available at Xavier, he was required to gain approval from a university committee in order to teach the class and make it a permanent mainstay in the course offerings catalog.
In his class, Easterling aims to maintain both an upbeat and relaxed classroom environment.
“I try and incorporate a little bit of humor in my teaching frequently to try and keep people’s attention,” he said. “That creates a sort of familiarity, a closeness and a trust that I think makes it easier to communicate because to me, teaching is all about communication.”
Easterling deviates from the typical presentation style of most other classes. He utilizes either his own voice or a piano conveniently located in the corner of the classroom to audibly describe the subject matter at hand.
Easterling noted the high level of difficulty in describing a musical concept to a person. Often times, he said, a basic recording doesn’t do it justice. Rather, a specific element of the concept is usually the focal point. Projecting the specific component through vocal or instrumental methods, Easterling believes, allows for a greater emphasis of the core concept.
Junior Illy Harris, who is currently enrolled in Easterling’s Music in Film class, agreed that this approach helps students better grasp these core concepts.
“(Professor) Easterling has a very vibrant passion for what he teaches, and (he) goes above and beyond in ensuring we understand the material,” Harris said. “The way he teaches allows me to understand the material at a deeper level and see the root of everything we learn.”
Music pervades many aspects of Easterling’s life, even outside of the classroom. Most notably, he is part of a singing group called Vocal Arts Ensemble, a professional choir that performs four concerts each year. He also has gigs as a singer for a church, a temple and another choir.
All this goes to show that whether he’s teaching students or singing himself, Easterling has a penchant for music wholeheartedly ingrained in his daily life.
By: Luke Feliciano | Sports Editor