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Music more than a profession for GSU master's student Cottle
Life may take him all over, but music and Statesboro will always be home
W cottle and student
Robert Cottle works with guitar student Josh Grimsley during a lesson at Averitt Center for the Arts. In addition to teaching guitar, he also teaches piano, and plays piano for First United Methodist Church in Lyons. - photo by RASHIDA OTUNBA/special

A musician's work is never done is a fact that Robert Cottle knows all too well. When asked to describe himself in a few words, Cottle needs only one: Workaholic.

Cottle serves as the music director for various shows at the Averitt Center for the Arts in downtown Statesboro, managing both adult and youth performances. He has also been music director for the Bay Street Theatre in Savannah for their performance of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

"I really enjoyed ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show' because it's something that I've been familiar with for years and I've always wanted to play the show but I've never done it before," Cottle said. "Typically, I teach everyone the music and will hire an accompanist, and I don't have to play that much, but for ‘Rocky Horror' I got to play the piano with the band so that was a lot more fun than conducting."

When not directing music, Cottle divides his time between teaching piano and guitar lessons, and playing piano for First United Methodist Church in Lyons.

For him, music is not only a profession but also a passion. Cottle has played guitar since he was a young child, a hobby that later expanded into a love of piano and singing.

"I've always loved playing guitar. I don't remember not playing guitar. I've always had one around, so that was kind of my gateway into music," Cottle said.

High school was the turning point for Cottle because during this period his teachers, Chris Mitchell and Brent Whitaker, greatly affected his love of music. Mitchell, the owner of Pladd Dot music, was the teacher who influenced his decision to seek music as a professional career.

When it came time to attend college, Cottle picked Georgia Southern University as his school of choice, receiving an undergraduate degree in music, and he is currently working to finish his master's in music.

As an artist, Cottle enjoys playing both classical and contemporary pieces, and plays as a soloist and with groups. His most recent venture with modern music is his duo R&B, which he formed with singer Brandi Harvey. The two recently performed at the Statesboro Women's March and are currently working on more original music.

"I think my problem is I'm not super focused in one area. I'm scattered a little bit everywhere, so I enjoy different things. I enjoy playing with a full band. I enjoy playing little acoustic shows with Brandi. I enjoy conducting orchestra for musicals, and I also enjoy teaching piano lessons or teaching guitar lessons. They all have something I like," he said.

Following the completion of his master's degree, Cottle says he would like to take a break and travel before eventually pursuing a doctorate in musical arts. No matter where he goes, though, he says he will come back to Statesboro.

"(Statesboro) feels like home. I love the community. I know a lot of people here. It's just a really nice, kind community," Cottle said.

Rashida Otunba is a senior at Georgia Southern University, and is interning with the Statesboro Herald.


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