The Beat Goes On in Music Education
Years before becoming a UofL student, John M. Hoover (BME '63, MM '69) donned a Cardinal Band Uniform as one of several high school students invited to "beef up" the band's ranks for their annual, nationally televised performance of "My Old Kentucky Home" immediately prior to the running of the Kentucky Derby. "I never guessed that I would one day conduct the Cardinal Band in this performance," John says.
Now retired and recently honored as the 2019 Alumni Fellow for the School of Music, John owes his career in music education to the late Robert B. Griffith, author of UofL's fight song, "Fight! UofL" and director of the Cardinal Marching Band throughout the 1960s. At their first meeting, however, John was a freshman at Louisville's DuPont Manual High School, where Bob was the band director.
John spent the first three years of his college career at a university that did not have a horn instructor—a scenario that allowed him to play in the faculty woodwind quintet and to develop friendships that continued for decades. Setting aside his education for military service, followed by a recall to active duty during the 1961 Berlin Crisis, John believed his music career was over. "I was married and had two children, but Bob Griffith, a veteran himself, who was now head of UofL's music education division, encouraged me to continue my education using the GI Bill."
After finishing his undergraduate degree, John began a lifelong career as a music educator in Jefferson County Public Schools, where he was repeatedly inspired by many students he encountered. Following completion of a master's degree, he then served as UofL's band director for several years. In addition to his fulfilling career in music education, John has played French horn in the Louisville Orchestra, was bandmaster of the Kentucky National Guard 202nd Army band for 25 years and conducted the River Cities Concert Band. In 2009, he was the first recipient of the School of Music's Robert B. Griffith Music Education Award.
Education is a shared passion for John and his wife, Sandy, who is also a retired educator. Within this shared interest, the Hoovers have designated the University of Louisville as a beneficiary of a percentage of their estate to create an endowment for the benefit of the School of Music's outreach programs for K-12 students. Such programs occur through fee-based camps, workshops and lessons.
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