The secret life of Chuck Lute

Monday, May 8th, 2017 at 4:18 PM

Looking at Edinboro University’s band director, you would probably think that he spends most of his time behind closed doors orchestrating bands. Surprisingly, he loves being outdoors just as much as Bear Grylls from the Discovery Channel’s television series ‘Man vs. Wild.’

Professor Chuck Lute looks just as normal as any other professor at Edinboro. His office inside the Dr. William P. Alexander Music Center is filled with various papers, marching band memorabilia and other music-related items. But aside from the music, nature is what Lute enjoys the most.

Chuck grew up in Greensburg, PA and has always been interested in music and nature since a kid. He was on the wrestling team and played the drums in his high school marching band.

“I enjoyed high school marching band. I enjoyed playing in it and that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.

It wasn’t until after he came to Edinboro University for a high school band competition that he decided to attend college here and years later he landed a teaching job at this exact same school.

Lute started his teaching career at Erie Tech Memorial High School and has also taught at several other places in the Erie School District for 35 years. After seeing a vacancy for a teaching job here, he decided to take his talents to Edinboro.

Chuck has been involved with the marching band all his life, but the school he was teaching at in Erie did not have a marching band. When he seen an opening for band director at Edinboro, it was the perfect opportunity to get back involved with a marching band.

“I had the time, I was done teaching there at 3 PM and came down here to do the marching band,” Check stated.

 Professor Lute began teaching part-time at Edinboro in 2002 making this his 16th year. His responsibilities on campus include directing the Fighting Scots marching band along with other bands on campus.

“I like the three [classes] that I do. I do marching band, I do the wind ensemble, and I do the Scottish percussion, and I did the orchestra when they had that here,” Lute said.

Outside of Edinboro University, Lute is also in charge of other various bands in the region. He teaches a drum and bugle course in Erie, PA and one in Hamburg, which is coincidentally a small town in Erie County, New York, located in the Buffalo area.

As a drummer, Lute has been involved in drum and bugle corps throughout his life but now, he judges drum and bugle corps from all over the country. His job is the critique the percussion section of bands that play in competitions. He has had the opportunity to judge a few world class drum and bugle corps ranging from the Blue Devils in Concord, CA, to the Bluecoats in Canton, Ohio.

Chuck also serves on the board for Jazz Erie, which is a Jazz group in Erie that promotes Jazz events throughout the region. Lute, along with his other board members, are responsible for anything Jazz-related that comes to Erie.

Besides directing the different bands on and off campus, Lute is the prototypical a family man who enjoys the finer things in life such as outdoor activates. Professor Lute is very active off campus and since retiring from the Erie School District, he has more time for leisure.

“I ski a lot, I bike a lot, I camp a lot,” Lute stated.

Chuck takes his family on different types of outdoor trips whenever he has the chance. Usually it either involves skiing or camping. One of his frequent skiing destinations is at the Holimont Ski Area in New York. He also has been skiing at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, NY which is one of the sites where the Olympics is held.

“My daughter is an events coordinator for the Olympics in Lake Placid so we go up there a lot,” he said.

Lute and his family has traveled to many places all over the country simply to enjoy the outdoors. Some of the places they have visited include Colorado, Arizona, and even Ontario, Canada.

He has been camping all throughout the United States, but says, “Pennsylvania is the best.” Just like skiing, campus is also a family event and he even took his daughter, who was only nine days old at the time, on a camping trip in Pennsylvania many years ago.

The Edinboro professor has taken his family on trips on the East side, out West, the Midwest, and plans to go down South this year.

“We’re going to spend five weeks going down one side of Florida and up the other side,” Chuck said.

Lute’s travelling companions includes his wife and two daughters. His two girls both took after their father and developed an interest in music and nature. One of his daughters teaches music in Charlotte, NC while the other deals with ecotourism and outdoor recreation in Lake Placid, NY.

Next to skiing and camping, hunting deer is another outdoor activity that Lute and his family enjoys. He has been hunting since him and his wife got married; over 30 years.

“I kind of married in to it,” he said jokingly. “Her family and brothers live to do that,” he continued.

“But it’s fun. We go back every year,” he added

Aside from the outdoor trips, Chuck enjoys doing home improvement projects on his house which he built, but says there’s still work that needs to be done.

“When I got out of college I lived in this [small house] and I just started ripping it apart and fixing it up,” Lute said.

At first glance, you probably wouldn’t expect an older professor who teaches band classes to be so active and enjoy the outdoors just as much as a park ranger, but that’s exactly the case with Professor Lute. It’s easy to imagine that the director of a band is only a music nerd, but a more accurate description of him is a nature enthusiast who loves to travel with his family.

Aaron Foster-Williams is a staff writer for The Spectator.

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