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Dr. William Richardson, who teaches trumpet at Northwest and conducts the University's jazz ensembles, has been named the first Dennis C. Dau Professor of Instrumental Music. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Dr. William Richardson, who teaches trumpet at Northwest and conducts the University's jazz ensembles, has been named the first Dennis C. Dau Professor of Instrumental Music. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Sept. 25, 2018

Richardson awarded endowed professorship for instrumental music

Dr. William Richardson

Dr. William Richardson

Dr. William Richardson, a professor of music and the assistant chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, has been named Northwest Missouri State University’s first Dennis C. Dau Professor of Instrumental Music. 

Richardson was selected for the three-year appointment through a process of nominations and a recommendation of the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Dr. Richardson is not simply an excellent teacher and conductor but an exemplar for our students of lifelong learning and professional growth,” Dr. Mike Steiner, the dean of Northwest’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Students are rightfully impressed by his considerable ability on the trumpet but also know from watching and listening that he still strives every day to get better. As a result, our students learn valuable lessons while he continues to expand his reach and recognition as a musician, teacher and conductor.”

A native of Lee's Summit, Richardson joined the Northwest faculty in 1999. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education in instrumental music at the University of Central Missouri and a master’s degree at Florida State University. He holds a doctorate in trumpet performance from the University of Texas at Austin.

At Northwest, he has taught applied trumpet, various courses in music and conducted the Northwest jazz ensembles. His ensembles have been invited to prestigious performances at the Nebraska Music Educators Association and Missouri Music Educators Association conventions as well as international performances in London.

Richardson knew as a high school student that he wanted a career in music, but he thought it would be as a musician in a symphony orchestra, or in a Washington, D.C., military band. Instead, he found his niche in teaching college-age students and trumpet lessons.

“I like seeing the lights come on when students really grasp a concept, especially in a one-on-one setting,” Richardson said. “We try to equip our students with all the tools they need to be successful. Studying trumpet lessons or playing in an ensemble is teamwork, and we’re trying to get everybody on the same page so we’re all moving efficiently in one direction.

“As an individual, it’s trying to teach people to become their own teachers. The best case scenario for trumpet lessons is that I put myself out of a job by the time they’re juniors and seniors so they can make their own decisions and attack a problem. That’s how I go at it, and I’d like to think that overall we’re pretty successful with that in the music program.”

In 2009, Richardson received a Fulbright Scholar award and spent the spring 2010 semester as a visiting professor at the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music in Riga, Latvia. The opportunity fulfilled a lasting desire of Richardson’s to study and live abroad, and it allowed him to perform and teach in a different culture.  

“I loved it,” Richardson said. “I got to be a full-time trumpet teacher, and I got to play a lot.”

Richardson adjudicated brass players in a youth music competition and performed at an international brass symposium in Latvia in addition to working with some renowned musicians. The experience also helped him develop new teaching strategies.

“I came back with some renewed, different expectations of my students,” Richardson said. “I think the expectation that students develop technique a little bit more quickly there was one of the things that came from that, and just trying to get our students to see themselves as artists because they get up on the stage and it’s not supposed to be a deer-in-the-headlights situation. They’re supposed to present and move the audience. I met some fairly well-known teachers in Latvia and some surrounding countries, and they all have a unique approach.”

Richardson’s work as a scholarly performer also includes regular performances with the St. Joseph Symphony, the St. Joseph Big Band and numerous ensembles across the country and internationally.

His professional recognitions include the Phi Mu Alpha Orpheus Award and the Kappa Kappa Psi Silver Baton Award. His extensive service on campus includes 18 years as director of the Northwest Jazz Festival, which brings hundreds of high school students to perform each year on the Northwest campus.

Northwest announced the founding of the Dau Endowed Professorship in January 2017 after receiving a $500,000 cash gift in honor of Dau, a Northwest alumnus and long-time supporter of instrumental music at the University.

An endowed professorship gives special recognition to a faculty member for continued exemplary service to their field, based on outstanding teaching, creative and scholarly activity, and contributions through professional organizations and service beyond the regional level. It recognizes individuals who maintain a high level of productivity and impact during an extended period of time and are considered role models for faculty, staff and students.

Dau, a native of Manning, Iowa, played the snare drum in Northwest’s Bearcat Marching Band and the clarinet in the University’s wind symphony on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in 1970 and master’s degree in 1971, both in music education. His career as an educator took him to Farragut, Iowa, and then to Maryville High School, where he was a band director from 1979 until his retirement in 1999.

The endowment fund remains open and capable of receiving additional contributions at any time for the purpose of funding the professorship. To make a gift in support of the Dennis C. Dau Endowed Professorship in Instrumental Music or for more information about the Northwest Foundation, contact the Office of University Advancement at 660.562.1248 or


Dr. Mark Hornickel
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