In the Fall of 1960, Rex Conner began teaching at the University of Kentucky School of Music and became the first full-time instructor of the tuba and euphonium at an American university. Rex Conner (1915-1995) received a Bachelor of Music Education from Kansas University and a Master of Education from the University of Missouri. His initial teaching experience included public school music in the state of Kansas and at Nebraska State Teachers College. During the Second World War, Mr. Conner was a member of the 347th Army Air Force Band. He was appointed to the faculty of the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan and taught there each summer from 1957 through 1982. Rex Conner was appointed to the faculty in the University of Kentucky School of Music in 1960, becoming the first full-time professor of tuba and euphonium at an American university. He was an active, enthusiastic faculty member through the time of his retirement from the University of Kentucky in 1980. During the nineteen sixties and seventies, universities throughout the country added full-time tubists to their music faculties, often referring to the “Kentucky model.” It is interesting to note that the School of Music at Indiana University which is regarded as the finest institution of its kind in the world today, added a full-time professor of tuba in 1961 much in reaction to the notoriety of Mr. Conner’s hiring by the University of Kentucky.
Dr. Skip Gray joined the faculty of the University of Kentucky School of Music in the fall of 1980. He has appeared as a tuba soloist and clinician throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia. He also served as Principal Tuba with the Lexington Philharmonic from 1980 to 2022. Skip Gray earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree and Master of Music from the University of Illinois where he was a student of Daniel Perantoni. He earned a Bachelor of Music from Baldwin-Wallace College in his hometown, Berea, Ohio studying the tuba with Ronald Bishop of the Cleveland Orchestra. Skip Gray served as President of the International Tuba-Euphonium Association (formerly T.U.B.A.) from 2001 to 2003. He served the organization as Corresponding Secretary from 1982 to 1987 and became its first Executive Secretary, serving two terms in that office from 1987 to 1991. He hosted the 1992 International Tuba-Euphonium Conference held in Lexington at the University of Kentucky. Gray served on the T.U.B.A. Board of Directors from 1996 to 1998. He became a “Life Member” of T.U.B.A. in 1989.