Skip Navigation

Alum Sterling Returns to Keene State

Sterling (left) playing with KSC faculty jazz trio as a student
Sterling (left) playing with KSC faculty jazz trio as a student

A few weeks ago, Keene State alumnus Ed Sterling ’84 returned to campus, but he wasn’t alone. Sterling, who was born in Elliot Hospital (now KSC’s Elliot Hall), grew up in Keene, and now directs the Manchester Central High School marching band, brought along the band, 100 strong, to visit the campus, meet with members of the College’s Music Department, and have lunch in the dining commons.

The band members were in town to perform at the Keene High-Manchester Central football game on Friday night, and extended their stay so they could visit Keene State. “Having grown up in Keene, I was very anxious to bring the band over there and show them off,” said Sterling, who has directed the Little Green marching band for the past 17 years.

At the game, Sterling ran into former Manchester Central principal and current University System trustee John Rist, who suggested he bring the band over to Keene State. The following day, after a few phone calls to make arrangements, the band marched down West and Main streets and Wyman Way over to Keene State. “It was a great experience. The kids loved it,” said Sterling.

A percussionist, Sterling said he enjoyed his time at Keene State and the opportunity to perform with a variety of orchestras, bands, and ensembles, including playing with the faculty jazz trio as a student.

After graduating, he played in bar bands, country and western bands, and rock groups at clubs around the area before trying his hand at teaching, first with the local drum and bugle corps and later at Franklin Pierce College. “I wouldn’t use my life as an example for students, because many of the jobs I got were completely by accident,” said Sterling, who taught at several middle schools in Manchester before landing his current gig at Manchester Central.

Begin pull-quote…I found my niche at Keene State and it worked out beautifully for me, and I’m sure my students who come here will feel the same way. …end pull-quote
– Ed Sterling ’84

Sterling, who teaches music theory and a class called Advanced Instrumental in addition to his duties directing the school’s concert, marching, and jazz bands, loves working with some of the top-achieving students at Manchester Central, the oldest public high school in the state. “We do things that no one else in the school can do,” said Sterling, who in 2011 took his band to Hawaii to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, in which three Manchester Central students lost their lives. Sterling’s band has also played for several presidents and politicians who have visited the Granite State.

While at Keene State, the Manchester band members had an opportunity to hear a few numbers from the KSC jazz ensemble and saxophonist Scott Mullett, a lecturer in the KSC Music Department and former high school classmate of Sterling. “It’s always a joy to see Ed,” said Mullett. “He carries with him so much of the training that we received from our high school band conductor, Mr. Robert Cummings.”

The high school students also had the chance to take part in an informative question-and-answer session with Keene State music faculty and students. “We always try to take advantage of opportunities like this,” said James Chesebrough, an associate professor in the Keene State Music Department, who directs the College’s concert band. “We enjoy having high school students come over so they can get a feel for the campus and learn about the Music Department.”

Sterling felt that the Keene State students made a good impression on his Manchester Central band members. “I had a couple of kids who were interested in coming to KSC already and this helped to cement it for them,” said Sterling. “They also loved the dining commons.”

“I found my niche at Keene State and it worked out beautifully for me,” Sterling added. “And I’m sure my students who come here will feel the same way.”

Related Stories

Contact Keene State College

229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435