Pioneer Spotlight: Allen Cordingley

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Pioneer Spotlight
Allen Cordingley
August 5, 2016

Allen Cordingley is a senior lecturer in the Department of Performing and Visual Arts and a New Mexico native. He received his bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance and music education from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and his master’s degree in saxophone performance from Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio. Cordingley teaches saxophone and music appreciation, as well as directs the Jazz 1 and the Pioneer Pep Band. He has just completed his 10th year of teaching at UW-Platteville.

What is your professional background, and what led you to UW-Platteville?

Before joining the UW-Platteville staff in the fall of 2006, I was on tour with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. We performed around 300 concerts a year and traveled throughout the United States, Canada and Japan. I received an email from a friend who said UW-Platteville needed a saxophone teacher, and I was ready to live in one place. Living on the road can be tough after a few years.

What initially got you interested in learning an instrument and what kept you going?

I felt at home when I began studying piano and later saxophone. I tried sports and rodeo which was an epic fail, but I wanted to be like my older brothers. It was not until I started playing saxophone that I felt like I had found something that was truly me.

What do you love most about the impact of music and/or learning an instrument?

Music and specifically saxophone is something that keeps you honest. It is not instantly gratifying. You have to maintain it and put in some serious time to chase the impossible goal of someday being great. That journey has developed every type of human emotion you can think of and, for that, I am thankful. When I am simply learning or teaching music for myself or my students, I seem to always come back to two words, patience and discipline. If you have these, you can be a solid musician.

What’s your favorite performance at UW-Platteville?

I am usually excited for any performance that my students get to be a part of. That being said, the Jazz 1 performance at the UW-Platteville Jazz Festival two years ago stands out. It was the first time ever that the concert portion sold out, mainly because of our famous trombone guest Wycliffe Gordon. He played one piece of music with Jazz 1 and I have never seen an audience jump to a standing ovation faster. The energy was amazing.

What do you wish other students knew about what your department has to offer?

You do not have to be a music appreciation student to support live shows. Please check out everything going on in the Department of Performing and Visual Arts.  It can be a nice departure from your everyday life; I have amazing colleagues, you will not be disappointed. Also, chances are you can get involved.

Interview conducted by Emalydia Flenory, UW-Platteville Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact


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