Generosity inspires generations of musicians

ELLISVILLE-Receiving a scholarship often changes a student’s future. Endowing a scholarship can impact generations. Such is the case for retired Dean of Music at Samford University, Dr. Milburn Price and his sister, Nevalyn Price Moore who is a retired professor emeritus of music at Campbellsville University. The former Ellisville residents and Ellisville High School graduates honored their parents, Dr. Shelby M. Price and Neva Trapp Price by endowing a music scholarship in their memory. They came to Awards Day this year for the first time since the scholarship was established in 2006 to meet this year’s recipient.

“Being in tune as a dean of music, scholarships are a good way to honor someone that is close to you, like a family member or someone you appreciate,” said Dr. Milburn Price.

The Prices grew up next to the Jones campus as they attended high school classes when Ellisville High School (formerly Jones County Agricultural High School) was part of the college campus. As high school students, both Milburn and Nevalyn participated in the college’s music department. Milburn sang in the college’s Concert Choir and Quartet and he had the lead role in the college operetta as a high school senior. Nevalyn was the college’s concert choir accompanist.

“Our parents were chaperones for the marching band trips to all of the ball games. We went on every trip including the trip to Los Angeles for the Jr. Rose Bowl game in 1955,” said Nevalyn.

Dr. Shelby M. Price was a science instructor for about 20 years at Jones County Junior College before retiring in 1966. Their mother, Neva was a music teacher at Ellisville Elementary School and the church pianist for First Baptist Church of Ellisville. For several years, Dr. Shelby Price also volunteered as the song leader and choir director for the church. When both parents passed away, Dr. Milburn Price said his sister and their spouses thought endowing a scholarship would be the best way to honor their parents.

“Scholarships are the best ways to support the next generation and we need scholarships and musicians,” said Nevalyn Price Moore. “Continuity and reward for good work were really important to our dad and I think he’d be really, really pleased by establishing a scholarship.”

Milburn added, “Even though our father taught biology, because of his interest in music, when we established the scholarship in our parent’s honor, we thought we should designate it as a music scholarship. We thought that would please both of our parents.”

As retired musicians and instructors, Nevalyn and her husband have five children and six grandkids who are all involved in music. However, the impact of the Price’s parents extends beyond their immediate family to current and past Jones College instructors and students, like Jones College music instructor, and former division chair, Dr. Susan Smith.

“I would sit in the front row at church to watch their mother (Neva Price) play piano because I couldn’t see her when I was really little,” said Smith. “That was the impetus of my music career. I was too young to take piano lessons from Mrs. Price, but my sister Patty had Mrs. Price as an elementary school music teacher.”

Smith eventually studied piano under Martha Tisdale and voice with former, JCJC Fine Arts Division Chair and Choral Director, Dr. Milfred Valentine. Both retired music faculty endowed music scholarships at Jones. Dr. Smith said she proudly followed in the steps of Dr. Valentine serving as Fine Arts Division Chair and hired Martha Tisdale as an adjunct piano instructor. Currently, Smith directs the vocal ensembles, JC Voices and The Bridge, and she teaches music theory, recital class and applied voice. In fact, Smith is teaching Caleb Pearce of Ellisville who is this year’s student recipient of the Dr. Shelby M. Price and Neva Trapp Price Music Scholarship.

“The Prices’ story about endowing a music scholarship really shows me the power of music. How music is a part of life for everyone and how it connects everyone,” said Pearce, who hopes to have a career as a composer, conductor and music educator.

Pearce said his parents inspired him to pursue a career in music. Receiving this specific scholarship, Pearce said, motivates him to pursue his dreams more vigorously.

“This inspires me to push much harder. It reminds me that in my lifetime, I want to make as many lives better, richer, and fuller as I am physically capable of doing through music.”

The impact of one gift, from one family, has resonated across the many generations through music and education with Jones College serving as a catalyst for a unique opportunity to give generously. The Prices are hopeful others will help them to continue a legacy of generosity and music.