Professor Profile: Ron DeRoo

By Andrew Craig

To say Ron DeRoo is a specialist in his field would be an understatement. DeRoo doesn’t just take his work home with him; he lives it.

“I’m like a hired gun,” DeRoo said. “I’m always playing on the side.”

At age 7 he began playing the piano, and he’s been hitting the keys ever since.  DeRoo graduated from Central Michigan University, specializing in choral music, keyboard and jazz studies.

Following college, he hit the road for a year with his college pop-rock band, Freestyle, before coming to Oakland University and receiving a Masters of Music in Classical Piano.

DeRoo carries with him over 50 years of playing experience.

Although he’s retired from the Waterford School District, DeRoo keeps his work at OU and his hobbies in rhythm with one another.

“You could consider me a freelance musician,” he said. “I’ll play pop, rock, jazz, country; piano accompaniment for vocals, choirs, weddings, funerals — I’d play for a divorce if you wanted.”

Cultural Foundations and Historical Development of Rock Music, DeRoo’s sole course at OU, is one of the more uncommon classes students will find at OU.

A strange turn of events landed DeRoo at Oakland. While teaching a history of rock class in Waterford, he was “discovered.”

“The department chairman from the university came to observe an OU student teacher at the high school and asked me if I would do it at the college level,” DeRoo said.  “I said sure — it sounded like a good gig.”

Aaron Faw, a freshman majoring in health science, is currently enrolled in the rock music course and enjoys DeRoo’s enthusiasm.

“You can tell he’s been there. He knows his stuff,” Faw said.

DeRoo’s class has hit or exceeded capacity every semester it’s been offered since 2000.

“I hope students leave my course feeling they learned something useful,” DeRoo said. “I want them to feel more musically rounded.”