ROE R. Cross Distinguished Professor

  • Elaine V. Edwards
  • Elaine V. Edwards

  • 1986 - Elaine V. Edwards

  • An accomplished performer and teacher, many believe Edwards made her greatest mark through the Suzuki music program.

    She directed the nationally recognized Great Plains Suzuki Institute each summer at Emporia State University. The institute brought together international faculty, students, parents, and teachers to campus from a wide geographical region. In addition, Edwards continued as a guest clinician at Suzuki Institutes in Canada and several states.

    Edwards described the Suzuki philosophy, saying it is based on the principle of the “mother tongue.”

    “All normal children learn to speak their native language fluently by the age of three because of their home environment,” she said. “From birth, children are saturated by language through their parents and siblings. Children learn to speak and build their vocabulary one step at a time by listening and repeating words they hear.”

    Suzuki cannot define Edwards completely, though. She was a an outstanding college professor first of all.

    “A good teacher leads, motivates, and inspires students to achieve more than they thought possible,” she explained when asked about her teaching philosophy.

    Edwards taught group piano, applied piano, and music theory courses at Emporia State from 1963 through 1994.

    During the Campaign 2000, a fundraising event at ESU, former students and some of their parents honored Edwards by creating a $10,000 scholarship in her name.

    “This scholarship is a strong recognition of Elaine’s service to the division and her students,” said Marie Miller, former chair of the Music Department and now Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Emporia State, “Because of her dedication and the hard work of those honoring her, worthy students now will receive the Elaine Edwards scholarships.”

    Edwards was born in Burlington, Iowa on May 6, 1930. She received a Bachelor’s of Music and Master’s of Music, both in piano, from the Chicago Musical College. Before joining the faculty at ESU, she was a instructor of piano at Monmouth College in Illinois from 1953 to 1960. She studied for one year at Juilliard School of Music in New York and was a graduate assistant at Indiana University from 1960 to 1962.

    Edwards was also founding member of the Great Plains Trio, later called the Trio Camerata, a regionally known music group that toured the Midwest. The ensemble included Edwards on piano with her Emporia State colleagues James Swain on cello and James Starr on violin. The trio’s main interest was in the great composers of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic areas, as well as by 20th century composers.

     Edwards was often a featured soloist with ESU music groups and extremely involved in faculty senate and other organizations. She was a faculty senate member in 1984.