hans cropHis favorite phrase was, “And again!”

He constantly reminded us that “We’re all God’s children.”

And when someone inevitably made a boneheaded move, he was quick to smile, shake his head, and say something I still utter to my own kids today: “Bless your pointed head.”

Sadly, he’s not eligible for GRAMMY’s Music Education Award, as he retired back in the early ’90s. But if it had been available 20 years ago, I totally would have nominated Mr. Hans. My high school band director taught music theory, marching band and concert band — but in his heart, he was a jazzer. As a high school kid, I had a nebulous idea of what a beatnik was, but Mr. Hans fit the description perfectly.

Mr. Hans was so much more than a music teacher. Most of our music teachers are.

In their classes, we learn responsibility.

We learn that answers aren’t always black and white like the notes on the page.

We learn to improvise, whether it’s in jazz band, during a breezy outdoor concert after your music has blown away, or out how to fix a leaky spit valve with a rubber band.

We learn leadership; and through trial, error, and repetition, we learn confidence.

We learn to work together, and to value the contributions of others.

We learn discipline.

We learn that if we stick with it, it’ll be SO worth it.

Whether we stuck with music when we graduated or not, these are traits that made us—each and every one of us—better human beings and better citizens of the world. Some might call a transformation like that priceless.

Mr. Hans didn’t just bring me music. He brought me so much more.


The GRAMMYS launched their music educator award during the broadcast on February 10th, 2013. Find out more about it here and nominate a music teacher (or six). It’s super quick and easy, and a great way to let your child’s teachers know that they’re making a difference.