2015 Jazz Educator of the year- Christopher Lubken

Christopher Lubken graduated with his A.A from Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, and earned his Bachelor of Music/Music Education and Master of Arts degrees at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks, Alaska.   For the past 17 years, he has taught band, jazz band, and steel drums at the high school level in both Wyoming (8 years) and Alaska (9 years).  He was named the University of Alaska Fairbanks outstanding music education student in 1997, and in 2005 was named to Band and Orchestra Magazine’s list of “50 Directors Who Make a Difference.”  Mr. Lubken has taught at the UAF Summer Music Academy, the Fairbanks Suzuki Institute, and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.  In addition, he taught the UAF Steel Band as an adjunct faculty member for 3 years.   He is a past member of the UAF Wind Ensemble, UAF Jazz Band, UAF Steel Drum Ensemble, UAF Brass Quintet, The Fairbanks Symphony, and The Arctic Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Lubken was a member of the UAF Trumpet Ensemble that placed third in the nation at the National Trumpet Competition in 2002.  Christopher has guest conducted the Alaska Region 6 honor band in 2004, 2005, and 2012, and the Region 3 honor band in 2004.  In 2014 he received the Wyoming Arch Coal Teacher Achievement award, and in 2015 received the Wyoming Jazz Educators, Jazz Educator of the Year, and the Wyoming Peabody Leaders in Education Award.  His West Valley High School Concert band was invited to perform at the 2003 Alaska Music Educators conference held in Fairbanks, AK, and his Campbell County High School Steel band was invited to perform at the 2013 Wyoming Music Educators Conference held in Gillette, WY.  

2014 Jazz Educator of the Year- Larry Munari


Larry Munari earned a Bachelors of Music with Honors (1985) from the University of Wyoming and a Masters of Vocal Performance (1997) also from the University of Wyoming.  He has been teaching for 25 years - six in Colorado and 19 in Wyoming.  He is in his 18th year as vocal music director at Cody High School.   He has traveled with musical performing groups within the United States, Canada, Europe, Great Britain, and Brazil, and has served as a music clinician and adjudicator in five western states.  He was awarded the Outstanding Choral Music Educator of the Year in 2012 by the University of Wyoming Choral Foundation, and he was last year’s recipient of the National Federation of High School Interscholastic Music Award presented by the Wyoming Music Educators Association.  He has served as solo tenor for several classical works over the years and has enjoyed many theatrical roles on stage.  Larry has played percussion for over 30 different musical shows in pit orchestras, and states "I enjoy the vocal jazz genre very much because my drum set background and voice experiences seem to naturally meld together as it is created".  He currently serves as the Vocal Jazz Chairperson of the Wyoming Jazz Educators and is a member of NAfME (formerly MENC) and the ACDA



2013 Jazz Educator of the Year-Neil Hansen


Neil Hansen is former Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Division, Professor of Music, and Director of Bands at Northwest College where he directed the Northwest College Wind Band and the Northwest Jazz Band I. He has taught at Northwest College for over thirty years. Mr. Hansen has degrees from the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Wyoming and has completed 36 hours toward a DMA in Music Education from Boston University. He has directed bands at all levels from elementary to college in both Iowa and Wyoming during his career.


Neil was selected as a recipient of the 2007 Wyoming Governor's Arts Award for his contribution to music in the State of Wyoming. He has recently presented clinics at the Wyoming Music Educators Convention and the Colorado Music Educators Convention. In 1995 the Northwest Jazz Band under his direction performed at the International Association of Jazz Educators 22nd Annual Convention in Anaheim, California. In 2006 he presented a workshop and was a keynote speaker for the 67th Annual Meeting of the Texas Association of Music Schools in Austin, TX. In 2004 he was honored in his hometown of Woodward, IA at the Jim Coffin Jazz Festival for his contributions to jazz education. Mr. Hansen presented a clinic at the 2nd Annual Jazz Educators Network Conference in New Orleans in January of 2011 on the topic of how to start and run a successful jazz camp.


Mr. Hansen is also a founding member of the Yellowstone Jazz Festival, Inc. which serves Park County, Wyoming by educating and entertaining through jazz. This organization presents jazz events including the Yellowstone Jazz Festival in mid-July. He organized the first Wyoming Allstate Jazz Band and Jazz Choir which are now in their twelfth year.


Jazz Educator of the Year Award


Nominating a jazz educator for this award is a very easy process.  Here is how it works:


1.You must be a current member of the WJE (check with Leesa Kuhlmann to see if you are current.
Nominate a colleague for the award who also must be a current member.


2. Write a short paragraph explaining why you are nominating and how the nominee has influenced, impacted, or promoted jazz in our schools, community, or state.


3. Submit the nomination by email to the WJE secretary by November 1st and at that time they will send the information out to the WJE membership body and we will collectively vote on the award winner. The winner will be announced and receive their award at the WMEA conference banquet in January.

WY Jazz Educator of the Year Info