Department chair spotlight: Dr. Tom Reed


Longtime faculty member Dr. Tom Reed, Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Music and Theatre, started listening to music at an early age.

Reed’s parents, who are both Ph.D. Chemists, are also amateur musicians and loved listening to classical music. It wasn’t until fifth-grade band when he picked up a saxophone that he was hooked on music. The saxophone was the first step in his success as a musician.

In 1984, Reed was finishing his master’s degree at the University of Akron when Liz Pastor, the then head of the music department at AU, contacted him for an interview to teach saxophone and flute lessons. After becoming full-time faculty in 1986, Reed was the chair on and off for 21 years.

“I stayed at AU because I like Ashland, I like the work I do here,” Reed said. “It’s a good place to raise our family and I’ve been able to stay active in the music scene in Cleveland and Akron. I get to play a lot, so that’s important to me.”

According to the Ashland University website, Reed is a member of the Akron Symphony (bass clarinet) and Ashland Symphony (principal clarinet), was a long-time member of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra (saxophone), and has performed on clarinet or saxophone with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Blossom Festival Orchestra, Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic, Youngstown Symphony, Blossom Festival Band and the Jazz Unit. His Clarinet CD “Mutually Inclusive” was released in 2008 on Capstone Records and he is a founding member of Iron Toys, a woodwind quartet that performs original repertoire for saxophones, clarinets and flutes. Iron Toys released their CD in 2015.

Music and other arts are ways people can relax, share their feelings and learn about culture.

“As humans, we need emotional outlets in our life and I think music and all the arts can provide that. Emotional fulfillment, intellectual engagement, music and all the arts are important culturally,” Reed said. “It’s important to have some special things that stimulate our minds and our emotions and our souls. Whether as a participant or an observer. Listening to music is wonderful. I feel privileged to be able to perform great music, not just listen to it, but to get into what Mozart was doing and study his music and perform it.”

Reed’s enthusiasm and passion for music has further helped the department.

“Being involved in music is a lifelong passion for me and it’s really a joy to continue working on music and sharing with listeners and sharing it with students,” Reed said.