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MTSU alumni named CMA Foundation Music Teachers of...

MTSU alumni named CMA Foundation Music Teachers of Excellence 

John Hazlett, left, graduate music alumna from Middle Tennessee State University, has worked as the band director for McGavock High School in Nashville, Tenn., for nearly a decade and was recently recognized for the third time as a CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence, along with three other MTSU alumni. (MTSU graphic illustration by Stephanie Wagner)

After almost a decade as a high school band director, MTSU alumnus John Hazlett has not only shared his expertise with his students; he’s advanced his education at MTSU to better serve them and received recognition for his efforts, most recently being named a CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence for the third time.

new School of Music logo

“It is a great honor be recognized, and I’m very humbled,” said Hazlett, who brings his passion for music to McGavock High School in Nashville.

“Music enhances the lives of young people every day in and out of the classroom, and music performance and music education play vital roles in the development and enrichment of the human spirit. All students should have that opportunity.”

The CMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association, created the Music Teachers of Excellence program to recognize the best and brightest music teachers from Nashville and beyond.

A foundation press release says the award recipients demonstrate a dedication to bringing a quality music program to their students that also has an impact on their larger school community. 

John Hazlett, graduate music alumna from Middle Tennessee State University and band director for McGavock High School in Nashville, Tenn., attended the CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence awards ceremony at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, in October 2022, to receive his prize for his third win as a music teacher of excellence. (Photo courtesy of John Hazlett)
John Hazlett, graduate music alumna from Middle Tennessee State University and band director for McGavock High School in Nashville, Tenn., attends the CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence awards ceremony at Marathon Music Works in Nashville in October 2022, to receive his prize for his third win as a music teacher of excellence. (Photo courtesy of John Hazlett/CMA Foundation)

The 30 most recent CMA Foundation honorees also included three more True Blue alumni: Susan Waters from Brentwood, Tennessee, Evan Burton from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Michael Holland from Smyrna, Tennessee. 

Hazlett attended the October awards ceremony at Marathon Music Works in Nashville to receive his accolade, along with $2,500 to invest in his classroom and music program and $2,500 more to use as a personal stipend. 

“I haven’t spent the money yet,” Hazlett said recently. “I plan to use the classroom funds for equipment, materials, instruments and other items.” 

The music teacher, who again found out via social media that he had won, said the application process for the recognition is lengthy. It requires video samples of his teaching plus recommendation letters from his principal, students’ parents and colleagues. 

Currently living in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Hazlett earned his Master of Arts in Instrumental Music Conducting through MTSU’s College of Graduate Studies in 2006, two years into his teaching career. 

“I took graduate courses in the evening and taught during the day,” he recalled. “There was some flexibility in terms of scheduling and course offerings.” 

Hazlett said the multiple winners from MTSU are proof of the university’s high quality music programs. 

“The knowledge and experience gained during my master’s program assisted me in pedagogy and repertoire selection for my classroom program,” he said. 

The latest teaching techniques

Craig Cornish, MTSU associate director of bands and a professor in the School of Music, has kept in touch with his former student Hazlett. 

Craig Cornish, MTSU professor of music and director of athletic bands
Craig Cornish

“He’s very dedicated, talented and hard-working!” Cornish said. “I thought it (third recognition) well-deserved. I’ve followed his career for about 15 years now.”

Cornish said Hazlett’s multiple recognitions, in addition to the wins of other MTSU alumni over the years, speaks to the quality of the School of Music’s faculty and their talent and success in training and teaching others. 

“These students are exposed to the latest teaching and organizational techniques available,” Cornish said, “and programs like the Master of Arts in Instrumental Music Conducting also offer students flexibility like earning a degree without a residency.” 

To learn more about undergraduate and graduate opportunities in MTSU’s School of Music, visit its website at www.mtsu.edu/music

— Stephanie Wagner (Stephanie.Wagner@mtsu.edu

John Hazlett, left, graduate music alumna from Middle Tennessee State University, has worked as the band director for McGavock High School in Nashville, Tenn., for nearly a decade and was recently recognized for the third time as a CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence, along with three other MTSU alumni. (MTSU graphic illustration by Stephanie Wagner)
John Hazlett, left, a graduate music alumnus from Middle Tennessee State University,’s School of Music, is the band director for McGavock High School in Nashville, Tenn., serving, for nearly a decade. He was recently recognized for the third time as a CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence, along with three other MTSU alumni. One of his professors, MTSU’s Craig Cornish, is shown at lower right. (MTSU illustration by Stephanie Wagner)

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