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Art & Soul: The Performance Arts - EMU Prof Shares Love Of Lute & Guitar As He Prepares To Retire

Sep 24, 2020

EMU guitar professor Nelson Amos
Credit Nelson Amos Studio / nelsonamosstudio.com

As the oldest professor at Eastern Michigan University, Dr. Nelson Amos says it was the current pandemic that finally convinced him it was time to retire.  When he leaves his job teaching guitar and music history at EMU next May, he will be 82 years old.

WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with the music professor, who is also an artist and owns a storefront in Ypsilanti's Depot Town, about how he has pivoted to teach online due to the current public health crisis and how life has changed since he began his university teaching career in 1975.


Nelson Amos in his new teaching venue.
Credit Nelson Amos

Dr. Nelson Amos refers to himself as "the last man standing" of his generation of professors at Eastern Michigan University, where he is the oldest faculty member at 81 years old.

He says things have changed a lot at EMU since he began there as a professor many decades ago, except for what he is teaching, which is mostly guitar one-on-one with students.  He says his passions are family, guitar, lute, art, and music history.  He wrote his doctoral dissertation about lute playing and says the pandemic has allowed him more time at home to practice.  

Dr. Amos says he has still been teaching students online from home in Ypsilanti and thinks his students are doing well because they too have more time to practice due to the pandemic.  He says retiring is a "bittersweet experience" that he put off as long as he could.  He says connecting with students has been "a fountain of youth" for him but decided it's time for him to "bow out."

You can check out videos of Dr. Amos's work on his Youtube page, as well as performances of him and his students on the EMUGuitar Youtube channel.


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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu