A RamCorps performance is something you’ll never forget. What you might not notice right away is the quiet professor who is usually standing off to the side as these talented students in the Alabama School of the Arts capture the spotlight. Kenn Hughes, music chair and associate dean for the Alabama School of the Arts, teaches more than musical excellence at the University of Mobile. He wants his students to be known for their compassion and heart for ministry, as well. It’s something he models in his own life by helping organize music mission trips so that Christian musicians can share Jesus Christ with the world, encourage believers and minister to people through music.
We talked with Hughes about teaching at a Christian university where students are known by their professors.
Q: What do you like most about teaching at the University of Mobile?
A: Sharing a biblical world-view is extremely important to me as we join together as faculty, staff and students to share the love of Christ. The opportunity to not just “perform,” but to actually have students minister through their talents, is a great blessing.
Q: What courses do you typically teach?
A: In addition to the ensembles I direct, I teach Brass Pedagogy, Finale (music notation program), and my favorite course, Jazz History & Culture. The history of jazz is much more than a study of extraordinary American music. Jazz is a prism through which American history can be seen. Jazz is a story about race and race relations, the music that it created then shared with the rest of the world.
Q: What are some of the performance opportunities available to students?
A: We offer a one-of-a-kind performance opportunity with RamCorps which is a touring, high-powered, precision brass and percussion performance team that travels the world representing the university. Also, the University of Mobile Jazz Band has garnered much acclaim in recent years for our dynamic concerts featuring classic big band standards as well as innovative, contemporary arrangements.
Q: You have taught at UM for 11 years. What is your background?
A: I hold a master’s degree in music education from The Wichita State University and a bachelor’s degree in music education from The University of Oklahoma. As a trombonist, I have traveled to over 36 countries and toured with Casting Crowns, Natalie Grant, Avalon, Jaci Velasquez, Carman, TRUTH, Denver & The Mile High Orchestra, Salvador and Michael English. Additional performances with artists include Mandisa, Phil Keagy, Israel Houghton, Amy Grant, Bob Hope, Rosemary Clooney, Debby Boone, Dino and Russ Lee. I was also the principal trombonist with the Imperial Symphony Orchestra in Florida.