Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Thomas Dickey

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Pioneer Spotlight
Dr. Thomas Dickey
December 25, 2015

Dr. Thomas Dickey, director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, has taught at the university since fall 2012. As director of Orchestral Activities, Dickey conducts the UW-Platteville Symphony Orchestra and guides all aspects of the orchestral program. He also teaches courses in conducting, music history, music theory and symphonic repertoire.

A native of Illinois, Dickey began piano studies at the age of four. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in orchestral conducting from the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., respectively. He graduated with highest honors from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill., where he received the Excellence in Fine Arts scholarship.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Preparing the next generation of music teachers and performers, giving them the tools they need to be successful, and watching them grow and progress as musicians themselves is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

Why is music/orchestra so important to a liberal education?

Playing in an orchestra like the one we have at UW-Platteville allows students from all across campus to come together for one common goal: the joy of making music. 

How does music/orchestra help prepare students for their careers and life?

For music majors, playing in orchestra gives them the opportunity to put into action all the musicianship skills they’ve learned in their applied lessons, music theory classes, music history classes, etc. 

How do UW-Platteville music/orchestra performances help enrich the tri-states?

For concert-goers who may not want to drive down to Dubuque or up to Madison, it’s a wonderful and exciting opportunity to hear an orchestra play everything from masterpieces by the greatest composers of all time to music written for movies, and everything in between. Did I mention that tickets are only five bucks? 

What do you enjoy most about conducting the Symphony Orchestra?

I got into conducting over 15 years ago because I thought the sound of an orchestra was the greatest thing I had ever heard in my life. Bringing a musical composition to life and helping the students in front of me tap into unlocked potentials gives me a joy and excitement that I find nowhere else in life. Conducting an orchestra really is the greatest thing in the world!

You have conducted many distinguished orchestras throughout North America and Europe. What have you enjoyed most?

Working with orchestras in other countries, regardless of whether or not we all speak English, reminds me of just how universal a language music truly is.

Interview conducted by Laurie A. Hamer, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact


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