LAWRENCE – Debra Hedden, professor and director of music education at the University of Kansas School of Music, was one of three Kansas educators inducted into the Kansas Music Educators Association’s Hall of Fame last weekend.
Hedden, who has spent 46 years as a music educator, was inducted into the KMEA Hall of Fame along with Donald Farthing and John Buehler on Feb. 22 at a ceremony during the annual KMEA In-Service Workshop in Wichita. The Hall of Fame is KMEA’s highest honor and is given to members of the music education community in Kansas who have made a significant contribution to the growth of music in the state. The KMEA Hall of Fame began in 1975, and Hedden is the 11th KU faculty member to be recognized.
Teaching at KU since 2003, Hedden has chaired the music education division for 10 years. Prior to her work in Kansas, Hedden taught elementary general music in Iowa schools for 20 years, followed by chairing music education at the University of Northern Iowa. During her career, Hedden has been the national chair for the Society for General Music, published more than 20 research articles, served on editorial boards for three research journals and presented her research around the world.
At KU, Hedden founded the KU Youth Chorus, won two Fulbright awards to study music teaching methods in Lithuania and received the Byron T. Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching, annually given to one KU faculty member.
In a letter of recommendation to KMEA, School of Music Dean Robert Walzel noted Hedden’s extraordinary work to prepare students to become music teachers, including placing student teachers in classrooms for preservice training.
“The difference she has made in the lives and education of the hundreds of students she has taught is truly remarkable,” Walzel wrote. “She has in so many ways contributed to the profession of teaching music in the public schools of our state.”
Jennifer Potter, who was Hedden's student as an undergraduate and graduate, wrote in her nomination letter that many students have taken positions as elementary general music teachers because of Hedden’s coursework.
“Her students leave the music education program at the University of Kansas as the most well-prepared, confident and compassionate preservice teachers in Kansas,” Potter wrote. “Dr. Hedden’s zeal for teaching future music educators, combined with her never-ending warmth and support for her students, is unmatched.”
Hedden, who will retire at the end of the academic year, said it was an honor, though humbling. to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.
“Teaching is the best job in the world. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The students are the reason we are here, and they inspire me, make me laugh and become really fine teachers,” Hedden said.
Photo: Debra Hedden, professor and director of music education, is pictured with the Kansas Music Educators 2019 Hall of Fame award. Photo courtesy of Frank Perez.