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East Central University instructor Kirk Palmer was named Oklahoma Collegiate Jazz Educator of the Year it was recently announced at the Oklahoma Music Educators Association Winter Conference in Tulsa.

Palmer has been the jazz band leader and trumpet instructor at ECU since 2015. During his tenure as leader, the jazz band has performed at several jazz festivals, including the Wichita Jazz Festival, Southwestern Oklahoma State University Jazz Festival and the University of Kansas Jazz Festival where the jazz band won recognition as the top performing ensemble at the festival.

“I am very honored to receive the award and I’m very proud of the ECU Jazz Band,” said Palmer. “Their hard work and diligence certainly plays a role in our success and I’m pleased and excited to work with these students.”

Criteria for the award is showing excellence and Jazz education in the classroom as well the performance of the ECU Jazz Band. Palmer was nominated by high school band directors from across the state. Then the candidates are voted on at the Oklahoma Jazz Educators meeting which consists of a statewide vote.

“Overall, his experience and what he’s done in his career has made an impact,” said Lance Reisetter, an ECU graduate student from Ardmore and a member of the ECU Jazz Band. “I was here before he came and the band was in the rebuilding stages. The amount of experience he’s had, like him being the lead trumpet of the Oklahoma City Jazz Orchestra, has been valuable. I owe a lot of my success to his teaching.”

Reisetter’s fellow band member Corey Burton, of Mounds, Oklahoma, praises Palmer for his ability to temper toughness with caring.

“Mr. Palmer is an excellent instructor. He has built an amazing, quality program,” Burton said. “He’s tough on us and doesn’t give us much slack, but deep down he cares about us and always has an open door. I think he definitely deserves that award.”

Palmer had a Facebook post about himself in which he deflected much of the credit to his band of students.

“He posted himself on Facebook a picture and wrote ‘look what you guys won.’ The first thing he did was defer it to us as students. That says a lot about the man,” said Burton. “He’s a phenomenal man, player and teacher. He’s a big asset to our Music Department.”

On campus, the ECU Jazz Band presents several concerts during the school year, including “Jazzy Day,” where several high school bands have been invited to perform for expert jazz educators from around the country.

The next concert for the ECU Jazz Band will be Sunday, March 3, at 3 p.m. in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.


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