Dr. JD Little: Staying in tune with CU Music

Dr. JD Little: Staying in tune with CU Music

By: Hannah Owens

Dr. JD Little is a distinguished music professor at Cameron University who transcends his role as an educator and performer, leaving a lasting mark on the hearts and minds of his students and the local community.

 With his unwavering passion for music, an unquenchable thirst for excellence and a knack for fostering talent, Little is an accomplished educator and also the beloved director of the college’s jazz band.

Little puts emphasis on his time with students and hopes he leaves a lasting impression on them.

“I hope that they see that whatever they want to achieve, they can achieve,” Little said, “that anything is possible.”

His background has left him more than prepared to teach in higher education, which he considers one of his greatest accomplishments. 

Little has been playing instruments since sixth grade, starting in his small-town school’s band. He holds many degrees including a bachelor’s in music performance, a master’s in music performance with a related field in jazz studies and a doctorate in performance and pedagogy (DMA). 

In 2019 Little received an endowed lectureship in music to add to his many accomplishments. 

Little has dedicated six years to Cameron University as a professor, leading blossoming musicians through music theory, ear training courses and woodwind lessons. 

He has not only invested his time and energy into higher education but also dedicates a couple of evenings throughout the week to private lessons with high school students off-campus.

One of Little’s former students, Lillie Hodgson, described the most memorable feedback they have received under his guidance.

“The most valuable feedback he’s given me has been encouragement,” Hodgson said. “This is a really hard degree, and there were several times early on where I wanted to quit but didn’t because of that.”

Despite his busy schedule, Little makes time to nurture personal musical endeavors. He plays a variety of instruments including the piano, clarinet and flute with saxophone as his main focus. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he found a lot of time on his hands and began to focus on composing original music. 

Little became a one-man band and is striving to produce an album of his own music in the future.

“So I decided,” Little said, “well, I play these different instruments, so why not write music for that and try to also record myself overtop each other? I got really into recording music and writing music– it was a lot of fun. So I have three compositions now that are started but not finished yet.”

While music education takes up most of his time, Little has a variety of passions. His passion for music has brought about opportunities to travel around the country and he thoroughly enjoys these experiences. 

He also loves being outdoors, just not during the height of Oklahoma heat. Collecting vinyl records is another passion of his.

Little has been an advocate for sharing jazz music with the community, emphasizing its ability to bring people together.

“I found that people,” Little said, “even though maybe you didn’t grow up listening to this type of music, that when you take it out into the community– people really like it.”

At 7:30 p.m., Nov. 7, in the University Theatre, the Country Jazz Fusion Concert will take place, serving as an opportune time for all members of the Cameron University and Lawton communities to experience jazz music. 

Tickets can be purchased ahead of time on the Cameron University website or at the box office day of. Cameron students, faculty, staff and alumni receive free admission. Senior citizens, non-CU students, and military personnel will be charged $7.34, while adults will be charged $9.17. 

For further information on future jazz concerts or interest in jazz ensemble please email jdlittle@cameron.edu. 

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