It was many Christmases ago that a young Harlow Sanders awoke to fine an authentic drum set sitting in the corner of the family’s home.
“There had been an endless succession of toy drums and then one Christmas there was a real set. When I touched it, I realized it wasn’t a toy drum. That was it. I was on my way,” he said.
From that Christmas on, Sanders rode those drums on a musical career that wound its away across the country, found him playing with groups like Blood, Sweat and Tears, and eventually leading him to Branson music scene.
Today, Sanders teaches English at the OTC Table Rock Campus.
The Pine Bluff, Ark., native jumped back and forth from attending college to pursuing his musical career. He played for a time in Memphis and then went to New York City to study classical music.
While there, he had the opportunity to audition on for Blood Sweat and Tears. He wasn’t the band’s first choice but when their pick didn’t work out, Sanders got the call and toured for a summer.
“I had to memorize the music and I had a week to learn it,” he said. “It was fantastic. I loved that music. It was intimidating. As a kid BST music always bothered me. There were licks I couldnt play. It went great.”
After that summer, Sanders returned to Arkansas and took his talents to Branson where he played for Shoji Tabuchi and the Lawrence Welk Theater with the Lennon Sisters, playing about two years for each outlet until the mid-1990s.
Sanders decided the music career was over and enrolled at the University of Missouri where he earned his PhD in English education and came to work at the OTC Table Rock Campus when the new campus opened in Hollister last year.
Sanders is one of eight faculty members at the Table Rock campus who hold a doctorate or PhD.
And while Sanders could go elsewhere to teach, he prefers to stay at OTC, where few on campus know of his musical background and most just know him as “Sandy.”
“I also enjoy teaching at the Table Rock campus because the administration there is so clearly focused on the Table Rock students,” he said. “I’m surrounded by people who do their level best for their students.”
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