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Teacher Feature - John Hepford

John Hepford Tucson Teacher

John Hepford (he/him) Graduated from the University of Kansas with a BME playing under the direction of James Barnes and Robert Foster. Before moving to Tucson he taught middle school band in Kansas for 19 years. In 2010, his concert band played at the Kansas Music Educator’s conference. He was the middle school band Chair for KMEA’s Northeast District and served on the Executive Board for the Kansas Sousa Honor Band.

Mr. Hepford moved to Marana in 2017. He is the band director at Dove Mountain and Tortolita Middle school where he teaches students from 5th grade beginners to 8th grade and jazz band. He conducted the Marana Winds concert band for 4 years and helped start the Marana Big Phat Band.

Mr. Hepford was the principal percussionist of the Kansas City Wind Symphony for 11 years and performed with them at Carnegie Hall in 2008. Since moving to Tucson, has performed with the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Civic Orchestra, Old Pueblo Brass Band, Marana Winds and the Marana Big Phat Band.

We asked John six questions about his life as a music teacher:

What Instrument Do You Play?

My primary instrument is percussion, but I play all the band stuff with the exception of double reeds. I’ve played trumpet, trombone and drum set with the Marana Big Phat Band and love playing euphonium at Tuba Christmas every year!

Best flavor of Pop Tart?

Cinnamon sugar, but I haven’t had a pop tart in a long time.

Favorite Piece to Conduct?

Any hymn. I love how many things you can teach from hymns and how composers arrange them mixing in their own style. My all-time favorite is "On a Hymnsong of Phillip Bliss" by David Holsinger

Baton, Pencil, or just your hands?

A well-balanced baton or hands, never pencil. I love my Newland baton. I’m a baton snob, but you can’t teach jazz band or pep band tunes with a baton in your hand, that’s just wrong.

What Instrument do you WISH you knew how to play?

Guitar- How do people contort their left hand like that?

Best piece of musical advice you’ve been given?

Listen! Every director I’ve had told me to listen. I’m always listening: Listening for balance, wrong notes, tuning timpani, counting 40+ measures of rest loosing track of where I am and listen to make sure my entrance lines up, or locking in with the bass player playing jazz. I’m like Roz from Monster’s Ink who’s “Always watching”. I’m always listening!


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