Music Education Professor Honored with Distinguished Service Award

From the October 2018 Desktop News | Dr. Carl Hancock, a music education professor at the University, was awarded the Barbra Odom Distinguished Service Award by the Alabama Music Educators Association, a statewide organization focused on expanding music education in every age group.

The award, considered the most prestigious given by the association, is presented to a person who has “clearly given very special service to AMEA,” is “clearly recognizable statewide,” and whose service “represents a long-range commitment that, in every way, can be considered extraordinary.” Unlike many awards, this honor is not bestowed on a routine basis. Rather, it is given only when the association receives a nomination that they believe is deserving of the award.

Hancock has been involved in AMEA since 2005 and has served as president, research chair, collegiate chair, and more. For him, outreach and service are some of the most important and impactful actions faculty perform.

“Giving back to the citizens of Alabama through the application of our research and teaching skills is so fundamental to what we do,” Hancock said. “I was very fortunate to have mentors in my life who were not only outstanding researchers, but who naturally focused their efforts on improving the state of secondary and elementary education and providing leadership to professional organizations.”

Throughout his participation, Hancock has also been involved in music education advocacy. One of his AMEA projects, the Alabama Music Teachers’ Census, filled a critical knowledge gap by addressing who is teaching music in Alabama so that advocates who regularly travel to Washington D.C. to meet with senators and representatives could better represent them.

“I created a state-wide survey that collected data on music teachers’ credentials, job responsibilities, teaching experience, working conditions, and the degree of support received from their school systems and communities,” Hancock said. “Then I compiled it into a report for the association. Leaders were thrilled to use their new awareness to advocate for more certified teachers and additional resources for music education. It was thrilling for me to see it make such an immediate impact.”

AMEA serves the elementary, secondary, and collegiate levels, and also provides professional development and resources for teachers. A former high school music teacher, Hancock understands the importance of music education at all levels.

“It’s one thing to listen to music—almost everyone has music of some kind in their lives—but it’s a completely different thing to get the opportunity to make music yourself,” Hancock said “Learning to play an instrument and interact with others in a communal music-making environment really makes you think differently about the world around you and how you communicate with other people.

“Every child should have the opportunity to participate in music in their school, every day, and in every grade.”

The award will be presented at the annual AMEA Professional Development Conference at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in January.