Dr. Kelly is has been a music educator since 1956, with 23 of those years as a professor of piano at Arkansas State University, where he is Professor Emeritus - Piano and was coordinator of keyboard activities.
Before coming to Arkansas State University he held similar positions at Union College, Barbourville, Kentucky, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
In 1992 he was named college teacher of the year by the Arkansas State Music Teachers Association. In 2008 he was named a Music Teachers National Association Foundation Fellow. In 2010 when Arkansas State University celebrated its first hundred years, he was named one of the one hundred outstanding faculty for the first one hundred years.
Dr. Kelly has been active in the Music Teachers National Association at the national, division, and state levels. He was a member of the national constitution board, and high school auditions chair for the South Central division (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas). At the state level he served as president and treasurer, and is currently certification chair and co-chair of the state auditions.
Dr. Kelly estimates he has taught more than 3,000 piano students, and it's common to hear them speak of him with respect, admiration, and appreciation. He continues to teach a large class, perform, and maintain an active schedule as an adjudicator.
Dr. Kelly was inducted into the Amro Music Educators Walk of Fame on June 22, 2013.