Profs who Rock
Dana Topliff believes music is a universal language
Topliff, a COCC nursing professor, said it is difficult to fit music into a full-time teaching schedule.
“Music is a nice way to just unwind,” Topliff said. “Music… allows you to get in the zone.”
Topliff played rhythm guitar and folk music for a few years before she picked up the flat-pick guitar.
“My husband was into playing bluegrass style music,” Topliff said. “I decided to try something new and started playing bluegrass in the Code 7 string band.”
Topliff enjoys playing music because she feels it can be enjoyed and understood by all ages and cultures.
“Music is a universal language,” Topliff said. “You can play music anywhere in the world, for any audience and it can be understood and enjoyed by all.”
In 1992 his dream quickly became reality. Rule, along with two friends, formed the band ‘Plow’ and began recording and performing. By 1994, the band was touring the northern United States and Canada.
Five years after starting, the band broke up and the members figured that their band would ‘fade’ off the music stage.
“Once we realized that we couldn’t really make a living playing in a band,” Rule said, “ we broke up and went our separate ways,”
For the next few years the group continued to turn down performance offers and became somewhat of a mystery on the music scene.
“We had a great following before the band broke up,”Rule said. “Then we just faded off the music scene without explanation…creating an aura of mystery about our band.”
During that time, Rule started teaching at COCC, but continued drumming in local bands.
In 2011 the three original band members finally agreed to play at the Riot Fest East in Philadelphia.
Plow’s hit performance prompted band members to reunite under the name Plow United.
Rule believes his experience with the band carries over to his teaching style and affects how he communicates with his students.
“It takes about 10,000 hours to become proficient at something” Rule said. “So when students are complaining, I use my drumming as an example of how practice pays off.”
When Thomas Barry plays the guitar he becomes a better professor.
The sociology professor believes his hobby helps him be more relaxed in the the classroom. Learning a new instrument has also made Barry more mindful of the learning process.
“Each student learns differently,” Barry said. “I believe, by continually being open to new things and learning new things, it helps me to better understand how students really learn.”
As well as playing in the rock and roll band ‘Railroad Spikes,’ Barry also occasionally practices with the bluegrass band ‘Code 7.’
Barry became interested in learning the guitar out of convenience.
“I played piano for a while,” Barry said, “but the piano is rather hard to pack around.”