FLUTE Member Of The Week
March 8 to 14, 1999
Keith Pettway is professor of flute at Delta State University where, in addition to private flute he teaches music literature and directs the flute choir. He holds BM, MM, and DMA degrees in flute performance and has studied with William Bennett, Torkil Bye and James Pellerite. Dr. Keith Pettway is internationally known as a performer and teacher of flute. He has taught classes from Vienna, Austria to Wellington, New Zealand. He has been featured soloist with the Mississippi Symphony and the Mississippi Chamber Orchestra, and is often heard on Public Radio in Mississippi's "Mississippi Concert Hall". His CD of Friedrich Kuhlau Flute Sonatas is in international distribution on the Centaur label. A review in FANFARE magazine states "Pettway plays with impressive technical skill, producing a smooth legato and consistently phrases with intelligence. But his greatest asset is the strong rhythmic vitality which he brings to this music. This a quality not often found in flutists..."


Now you have the “official” bio, here is some of the real scoop. To keep this flute related the flute and music go back almost as far as I can remember. When I was in the first grade I had a recording of the Stars and Stripes. When I listened to the picc solo I would tell anyone around “that is what I want to do when I grow up”. In the 5th grade I asked to take piano lessons so I would have a head start when I started band in the 6th grade. It was a real shock when the band director told me that I could not start on piccolo and had to play flute first. Incidentally, he almost didn’t let me start on flute because I couldn’t whistle.

My high school musical training was the usual band process plus I continued with piano lessons. I never had a lesson with a flute teacher until I went to college. During my undergrad days I managed to run off a flute teacher almost every year! I had three different flute teachers in four years. I was starting to meet with modest success as a flute player. I won the Louisiana MTNA competition back when there was one winner in instrumental, keyboard and voice combined. (The state was as far as you could go as college winner back in the dark ages.)

I went straight on through my master’s degree and was lucky enough to land a teaching job in a small junior college in Texas. For a few years I changed jobs like I ran off flute teachers. This ended with a one-year stay as the University of Northern Colorado. Then my world changed. I found myself with a young family and no job. I learned about life quick. I was asked to come for an audition with the then fledgling Carolina Symphony, but the pay was so low there was no way I could feed a family. I worked as an insurance investigator for a year, then decided there was no way I could live without doing something in music. The only thing to come around was a band directing job in a very small town in central Louisiana. I took it. It was a true learning experience to say the least, one that I have never regretted. My band directing career lasted for seven years, but my marriage didn’t. Two years after my marriage broke up; I met a fellow band director, Barbara, who became my second (and hopefully my last) wife. She knew my dream was to get back into performance and college teaching. She offered to put me through doctoral school, and was shocked at how quickly I took her up on it.

After I finished my DMA in 1980 I took the flute position at Delta State University and am still there. The terminal degree was far from the end of my education however. I met William Bennett in 1981 and my flute playing was forever changed. I learned more about flute playing in one week in all my formal education put together. I have studied with a number of teachers in the last twenty years, but WIBB remains my greatest influence musically. I have switched to old French flutes. The ones I am playing are a Lot (#1207), and a Barbier, both retuned with a William Bennett scale by Nick Crabb in London. There is also a LeBret which is presently having some modifications done to the foot by John Lunn.

A bit on the personal side - I have the greatest wife that any man could wish for. Barbara is no longer a band director, but has her on computer counseling business. My children are grown and making as much of their lives as possible. The latest really big news - On Feb. 19 my son and daughter-in-law presented us with a beautiful grand daughter, Allison Taylor Pettway. As for hobbies, travel is my number one pleasure. Also I like to build things. Everything from a double carport with a 16X28’ shop to bookcases.

You may have noticed. I am a rather quiet person. I don’t often post to the list, but if I see something I think I can help with I will jump in. I don’t consider myself to be an “expert” on any one flute subject. I am only a flute player and flute teacher. Just what I always wanted to be!

Keith Pettway


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