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Freed-Hardeman University has announced the hiring of a director for the university’s newest musical offering. Dr. Michael Yopp will serve as an associate professor of music and as the director of FHU’s new jazz ensemble. At both the high school and university levels, his bands have grown numerically and in quality of performance.

Yopp was the director of bands at Warner University in Lake Wales, Florida. He directed the marching band, pep band, concert band and jazz ensemble and was a member of the music education faculty. Prior to that, he taught at Webber International University in Lake Wales, where he created a full marching band, pep band, concert band and jazz ensemble from business majors.

He has also directed bands and taught in high schools. Most recently, he was director of bands at Middleton High School, Middleton, Tennessee, where he rebuilt the program and started multiple ensembles. In addition, he worked with Fort Meade Middle Senior High School, Lake Wales Charter High School, Fayette Academy in Somerville, Tennessee, and Millington Central High School in Millington, Tennessee. Yopp has also taught and directed at the middle school level.

Yopp received his Bachelor of Arts in music education from the University of Memphis, a Master of Arts in music education from Adams State University and a Doctor of Music Education from Liberty University. Both his master’s thesis and his doctoral dissertation deal with the recruitment and retention of musicians for band programs.

“I am honored, as well as humbled, to be a member of this wonderful faculty and institution. For the last 150 years, Freed-Hardeman has been a fixture for the entire church brotherhood with the highest Christian and educational standards,” Yopp said. “My prayer is I will leave a musical legacy within the program that maintains those same high standards of excellence with integrity and Christian foundation.”

The jazz band will utilize students who are competent in saxophone, trumpet, trombone, bass, keyboard, percussion and/or other instruments as they are called for in the combo’s repertoire. Scholarships will be offered to new and current students for participation in the new ensemble following auditions, Dr. C.J. Vires, vice president for academics and provost, said. Auditions will be conducted during Makin’ Music weekend, April 14-15, in Draughon Music Center and by appointment. In-person auditions are preferred, but auditions by Zoom may be arranged for those unable to come to campus. Audition and scholarship forms are available at fhu.edu/jazzband. Potential FHU students may also contact Yopp at myopp@fhu.edu.

“Dr. Yopp comes to the university with a tremendous amount of experience in leading other collegiate band programs,” Vires said. “I look forward to seeing him use his talents to launch our jazz band and to the positive impact and opportunities that he will provide our students, the music program and the campus. It’s going to be an exciting and fun time!”

The goal is to have 20 or more students participate in the band, which will perform at various campus events that include homecoming and basketball games. In addition, Vires expects them to travel to area high schools and jazz festivals. He anticipates some smaller jazz combos to naturally emerge from this effort.

FHU’s music program currently offers a Bachelor of Arts in music with a performance emphasis in voice and piano. Teaching licensure in music or vocal/general is available with completion of required professional education courses.

The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson and Memphis, FHU offers associates, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees.