From Kansas to Mount Pleasant: professor’s journey opening for famous bands to teaching at CMU

Brad DeRoche used to perform in rock bands that opened for headliners Kansas and Ted Nugent. Now he's a music teacher in Mount Pleasant.

He learned to play guitar at age 5, and performed in rock bands until his late 20s. During his time opening for Kansas, he’d sometimes play more than two shows a night.

DeRoche gave up the “not so glamourous” life as an opening musician to be a guitar professor in the early ‘90s after 13 years of playing in rock bands, 10 of which he spent on tour.

He is now an assistant professor of guitar at Central Michigan University. He also teaches at Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University. DeRoche is also the director of the classical guitar workshop at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

"I loved playing in the bands. It was always fun and gave the opportunity to play for and work with some really talented people,” DeRoche said. “(The lifestyle was) just a negative scene and it can make it hard to stay married and have a normal life. But I played with great people because I stayed in the music scene for so long."

Despite opening for Kansas — a ‘70s and ‘80s band whose hits include “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind” — DeRoche said he was most excited to work with Ted Nugent’s drummer, Cliff Davies.

Davies was the drummer in Ted Nugent’s band at the height of his career, when “Wango Tango” and “Stranglehold” were released. Davies was also a producer of the albums.

"(My relationship with Davies) was much more notable because I actually worked and recorded with him. We performed together and played gigs together,” he said. “That is a much more notable thing than opening for some other group.”

DeRoche began teaching shortly after being accepted into the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He’d make the eight-hour drive between Delta College, near Bay City, to Eastman once a week to complete his doctorate degree.

He moved to Mount Pleasant after receiving his doctorate in classical guitar performance.

DeRoche said the best thing about teaching is that every day is different. He interacts with people from all walks of life — each individual different than before.