For the Love of Music...and Students
Posted by cservaes on June 19, 2012 in "Academic Programs", "Alumni, Music", "Kansas Music Educators Association", "Music Education", "Music Educators National Conference", "The College"
He did it because of his love of music. He did it because he enjoyed playing the saxophone. He did it because a career as a professional musician is difficult financially. But mostly, music teacher Marlin Cooper ’61 did it for the students.
“The students were the most enjoyable part of my many years in teaching,” says Cooper. “I especially enjoyed the wide variety of students, their various skill levels and their energy.” Cooper was recently recognized for his more than 45 years of service to the teaching field when he was inducted into the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) Hall of Fame. “I was amazed at the number of people who had written letters to KMEA on my behalf,” says Cooper, who spent 27 years of his career as the Director of Instrumental Music at Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC). “To be recognized for my work by many former students, colleagues and administrators was truly a humbling experience.” Prior to KCKCC, Cooper taught for many years in the Kansas City, Kansas, school district. Following KCKCC, he taught one year in the Gardner-Edgerton school system and six years in the Shawnee Mission school district as an elementary instrumental instructor before retiring in 2006. Letters of support for Cooper came from educators and former students who worked with him over the years. During his career at KCKCC, his jazz band performed at three KMEA workshops and one Music Educators National Conference and competed at more than a dozen jazz festivals, including the 1985 Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the Mexico City, Canadian, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Chicago jazz festivals. His clinics at KCKCC have included such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Jamie Abersold and Bobby Watson, and nearly 20 of his students have gone on to professional careers. Cooper has also played the saxophone as a member of the Worlds of Fun band for 13 years and in several local bands. He has received the “Strings Teacher of the Year” award for his work with the Shawnee Mission music program and a 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wyandotte Community Coalition Foundation. “I enjoy playing music,” says Cooper. “As a professional musician it is very difficult to succeed financially, so teaching came with benefits.” Cooper said he realized he wanted a career in music while at Ottawa University. “I performed with a local dance band and remember playing at the Ottawa Country Club. One summer between my junior and senior years, we had a group of students from Ottawa do a USO show in the South Pacific for three months,” says Cooper. “I then realized that I wanted to have a music career.” Today, Cooper continues to stay active in the music industry, playing in the Abel Ramirez Big Band and the Moonlight Serenade Orchestra. He also performs for senior citizen groups.