Hansford Chosen for Oklahoma Music Educators Hall of Fame

January 13, 2017

Dr. Jim Hansford, retired Burton H. Patterson professor of music and director of bands emeritus, was recently selected for induction into the Oklahoma Music Educators Hall of Fame. The honor is bestowed by the Oklahoma Music Educators Association. Hansford will be inducted during the OkMEA Winter Conference held in Tulsa, Jan. 19-21.

Hansford retired from full-time teaching in 2010, after serving as the Burton H. Patterson professor of music, director of bands, and coordinator of instrumental studies during his 20 years at OBU. During that time, he conducted the Symphonic Band; taught instrumental music education, advanced conducting, and low brass; and supervised student teachers and first year teachers. The Symphonic Band traveled extensively performing in schools and churches from New Orleans to Phoenix. With the assistance of Paul Hammond, former dean of the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts, he founded the OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra, a collaborative group of students and professional and amateur musicians from Shawnee and the surrounding region. He continues to conduct this ensemble for the 16th season.

“Being selected for this honor is somewhat overwhelming,” he said. “This is not an award to which one aspires. My aspirations throughout my 46-year career surrounded my desire to go to work every day and share my love of music with my students, encouraging them to be the best musicians, teachers, and citizens possible. It's an honor I never anticipated.”

Hansford earned a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. He then earned a Master of Music Education and a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. His teaching experience includes seven years in the public schools of Brazosport and Denton, Texas. Before coming to OBU, he served as director of bands at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Wayland Baptist University (Texas).

Hansford remains active as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator in the public schools of Oklahoma, Texas, and the Southwestern United States, having recently served as conductor/clinician for the 5-State Regional Honor Band hosted in Guymon, Oklahoma. Hansford was elected to the OkMEA executive board as vice president for higher education in 2005.

Since retiring, Hansford has been a principal trombone player with the Oklahoma Baptist Symphony, a collaborative ensemble of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. During the 2015-16 season, he was asked to serve as the interim conductor of the ensemble.

Hansford served as a senior editor and writer for a 400-page textbook, “The Instrumental Resource for Church and School,” published through Lifeway Church Resources. He has lectured on “The Music Education System in the United States” and “The History of Jazz in America” for the School of Music at Xinjiang Normal University in Urumqi, China. He served as conductor of the Texas Baptist All-State Band and the Oklahoma Baptist All-State Symphonic Band for more than 15 years, including international tours to England and British Columbia, as well as national trips to Boston, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C.

“The driving force behind my music education career was my passion and love for music and for students,” he said. “In recent years, research has shown even more evidence for the power of music and how it impacts our brains in so many significant ways. To study music is to study imagination and self-expression; it is to study the learning process allowing people to develop keener understandings as to how knowledge, skills, attitudes, feelings and the senses interrelate.  Music teaches people to appreciate quality and it assists us in developing aesthetic sensitivity. In the end, it makes our society more human.”

Hansford discovered his passion for music during his childhood, listening to records in his family’s living room.

“I first seriously discovered music when my parents purchased a 10-record collection of Reader's Digest Classical Music for me as a gift. At the age of 9, I was enamored and became totally captivated by the standard classical repertoire included in the collection. I would frequently come in after school and put on a record, lie down on the floor in front of the stereo, close my eyes and become totally engrossed in the orchestra sounds. Often I would be shadow conducting as the music played. I can never repay my parents for the wonderful gift of music they made available to me at that young age.”

Despite that discovery of his passion for music, he originally had other career goals in mind.

“During my senior year of high school, I decided against being a chiropractor, which had been my aspiration since the 9th grade. I was drawn to major in music in college after completing an audition at my high school for the dean at the University of Southern Mississippi. He offered me a scholarship and encouraged me to study music. After making that decision, I have never wavered on what my life's work would be. I soon felt strongly that it was a calling.”

The Oklahoma Music Educators Hall of Fame is for experienced music educators who have distinguished themselves as teachers, officers in OkMEA or the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), researchers in music education, and those members who have shown active political support of music education in the state and nation through membership and action in OkMEA. Honorees must have completed 25 years of active service, with a minimum of 15 years in Oklahoma, as music teacher and/or music administrator. They must have contributed significantly to music education in Oklahoma, been a member of OMEA/NAfME for a minimum of 15 years, served OMEA in a significant region or state capacity, and demonstrated excellence in the teaching of music.

The award is especially prestigious because the nominations come from colleagues in music education. Hansford was nominated by two former students, Katie Cease Robertson and Nick Noble, who are both active music educators in Oklahoma. Nominations are submitted to OkMEA’s awards and recognition committee. They then meet and choose recipients from the qualifying nominations. Those recommendations are then submitted to the OkMEA executive board for final approval.

Hansford reflected upon why he believes he may have been chosen for this recognition.

“It's difficult to surmise why I was chosen to receive this award without self-aggrandizing, but I have to assume my students and colleagues observed my passion, love, dedication, and total commitment to this great art we celebrate. In addition to conducting and performing, my greatest desire and motivation has surrounded the process of training and mentoring new instrumental directors.”

Hansford has indeed always valued the chance to mentor those learning to become directors, and he has some advice for those entering the field.

“Young students aspiring to become music educators must possess a deep passion and love both for music and for people. Along with acquiring all the skills and knowledge of the profession, one must feel that being an orchestra or band teacher is the only thing that will satisfy them as a career choice.”

Hansford attributes much of his success to three very influential teachers in his own life, who had enormous impact upon his career during his college days. They include his undergraduate band director at the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. William J. Moody; his undergraduate trombone teacher and mentor, Dr. Raymond Young; and his graduate music education coordinator at the University of North Texas, Dr. David McGuire.

He also acknowledged the profound impact his music education students have made upon him, as well as the countless colleagues and administrators who have touched his life over the decades. “They all must share this award with me to some degree since they are a part of who I am as an educator.”

Hansford is an active member of First Baptist Church in Shawnee, where he sings in the choir and serves as a deacon. His wife, Conchita, recently retired assistant professor of music and a children's music specialist, is the former director of the Music Preparatory Department at OBU.   She continues to conduct the Shawnee Honor Choir and teach Kindermusik for the 27th year.  They are the parents of two married daughters, Candace and Tamara, and have three grandchildren, Channing, Clark and Lauren.