Position: Director of Bands
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School: Reeths-Puffer High School
School District: Reeths-Puffer Public Schools
City, State: Muskegon, MI
Music that Describes Chuck
Chuck Hodson was nominated by an anonymous parent of a student.
“I teach about life,” Mr. Hodson stated in one of his final interviews prior to his upcoming retirement from Reeths-Puffer High School, where he has enriched thousands of lives during his career. This statement has held true throughout the 36 years he has dedicated to students, families and staff at the schools where he has worked.
When Mr. Hodson was hired at Reeths-Puffer 29 years ago, he was charged with improving a marching band program that limited its members to standing in place while playing during football halftimes. Little did anyone know at the time that this master teacher would develop a program which has become the pride of the school district and the entire community. In the process, he has molded his students into exceptional citizens by setting unwavering standards for rehearsals, performances, and personal conduct off the field.
Some might say that Mr. Hodson’s greatest accomplishments have been his marching band’s innovative performances and the hundreds of competition successes, including the 15 State Championships they’ve earned. Those who have been involved in the program, however, know that his biggest accomplishment has been building a culture that values the pursuit of excellence. His program nurtures a love of hard work, and has created a multi-generational family of students, parents, alumnae, and others who appreciate and support his philosophy and approach.
Mr. Hodson’s gift as a band director lies in helping young people learn how to set and achieve goals, how to learn from failing, and how to be resilient.
“There’s more than one way to reach a student," said Mr. Hodson.
When the Reeths-Puffer Marching Band takes the field to present its show, it is immediately obvious to colleagues, parents, and community members that he has used his talents to elevate a group of average high-school students to a level even they didn’t believe possible.
Mr. Hodson is known and admired for conceiving audacious goals, and for his skill at systematically dividing complex tasks into their fundamental elements. This skill, coupled with his perpetual positivity, inspires others to commit to the goal and enables the realization of the vision now shared by all.
Thousands of hours of manpower go into the creation of the show each year. Staff, students, parents, community members and others come together to build props, sew uniforms, provide meals, raise funds, handle first aid, and practice, practice, practice. Older students mentor younger students, parents chaperone trips, fathers drive semi-trucks filled with equipment, and younger siblings help move props on and off fields. This is all because Mr. Hodson has inspired each individual to pursue excellence in everything they do, and has modeled that no task is more important than another; quality in everything is the standard.
“Marching Band is the hardest work I’ve ever loved," said one student.
At the end of each marching band season, the band treats the community to an indoor show titled “Stadium Echoes.” This November, the bleachers were filled with local residents, parents, faculty, family and alumni to acknowledge and celebrate Mr. Hodson’s last season as the Director of the Reeths-Puffer Marching Band. As is tradition at Stadium Echoes, when the program has ended and the band is silently marching out the door to the steady rhythm of the drums, each Senior member of the band leaves their shoes behind as a representation of all they have given, all they have learned and will take into their futures. This year, with his back to the bleachers, Mr. Hodson walked slowly behind the band, removed his shoes, turned, gave a small bow to the audience, and followed his students out the door. There was not a dry eye in the crowd, as each and every person in that auditorium had been (and continues to be) profoundly impacted by Mr. Hodson’s life’s work.
Mr. Hodson’s shoes may have been left behind in his last performance as the Director of the Marching Band, but they were not empty. His legacy of the quest for excellence will live on in generations to come, in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.
For a small peak into his work click on the following link: Chuck Hodson's last competition
Mr. Hodson and I were fortunate to come to R-PHS the same year and over our 29 years together, I've witnessed firsthand, his passion, determination, attention to detail and strive towards excellence be infused into countless students. Yes, our band program has over his years, become unmatched in the Greater West Michigan Area relative to accolades. But his true mark is what he was able to instill in his students. Many, many students have become wonderful husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, professionals, and contributing citizens to their communities.
Mr. Hodson became a role model to many, He never asks anyone to do more than what he had already done on their behalf. If he asked students to rehearse for three hours, he had already prepared two hours prior. Mr. Hodson demands much more from himself than he does of his students, and he demands a lot from them! His personal and professional character is simply beyond reproach.
The best educators spend an intense amount of time developing, improving and investing in relationships. Positive relationships are the heart of what makes a program extraordinary. The best leaders build environments of trust, respect, professionalism, caring, compassion, collaboration, teaming, advising, caring and nurturing. This sums up who Mr. Hodson is and what he accomplished while educating our students at R-PHS.
A well-deserving candidate to say the least.
Mr. Hodson was one of the most influential people in my life. I was fortunate to have him for 8 years as my band director. From the first time I picked up an instrument in 5th grade, from the last concert of my high school career, I was constantly learning something from him. He taught us many things, about music and about life. He always taught us to push for more, and instilled a growth mindset in everyone of his students. We all have the greatest respect for him, and to this day still do. That 5th grade student that entered his class in 2003 is now a teacher herself. Because of Mr. Hodson, I know how to not only be a great person, and musician, but how to be a great teacher. So many of the life lessons he taught me, you will find in my classroom today. I have been fortunate to not only be a student of his, but now I am fortunate enough to work as a teacher in the district where he has created such a community of love, support, and excellence.
Mr. Hodson has gone above and beyond in his teaching career to shape the lives of numerous people. When I joined the band program at Reeths-Puffer, Mr. Hodson immediately noticed my knack for the clarinet and introduced me to my first lesson teacher, Mr. Dennis Emmons, who would go on to shape my life in amazing ways. As I continued, Mr. Hodson did everything in his power to provide me with the tools and experience needed to succeed in a musical field, and helped make me the person I am today.
Among the many impactful moments he’s had on my life, one of the most important was at the end of my senior year in high school. After not being accepted to study music at the school of my dreams, I was crushed. My confidence was destroyed and I gave up the notion of continuing with music. I decided to study engineering instead because I knew that would make my family and friends the most proud, even if I wasn’t following my heart. However, as music has been the center of my life for the last nine years, this did not sit well with me.
A couple of days before graduation, when the seniors had been out of school for a little bit, I went to Mr. Hodson’s office to talk about my feelings of regret about my decision for the future. He and my other band director, Mr. Olian, immediately put down what they were doing to talk to me. I finally said out loud something I had been thinking about for a long time: I wanted to be a band director just like them. They were overjoyed and couldn’t have supported me more and gave me the courage to start over with the college process in June to follow my passion.
Since then, I have been studying music education and performance and I feel like my entire life has changed. I have the most amazing professors, friends, and opportunities. Being closer to home has allowed me to not only stay connected with my family, and give back to the program that gave me everything. This summer, I will be working as a staff member with the marching band Mr. Hodson created that gave me my best friends, best experiences, and best future.
After working with Chuck for 16 years at R-P, I'm always impressed with his ability to connect with staff and students and motivate them to rise to the highest level of performance year after year. He is a true professional, a true educator, and a true roll model.
Mr. Hodson has truly been one of the most influential people in my life. When I was a freshman in high school, I was a quiet student just trying to navigate my way through my first marching band season, putting forth as much effort as possible in order to help the band reach the excellence we all new was possible. Much to my surprise, Mr. Hodson approached me and asked me to try out as a drum major at the end of my freshman year season. The next three years I spent as a drum major were filled with the most demanding, stressful, and arduous times I had ever experienced, but I was also the happiest I have ever been. Mr. Hodson and his approach to leading the marching band has taught me countless things. His encouragement of perseverance when the days get difficult, pride in the work that the marching band does, and patience when things don't go as plan fostered a well-rounded group of high school students that will do their best in any rehearsal or preforming atmosphere. The emphasis Mr. Hodson puts on instilling a positive atmosphere, working toward excellence in all aspects of preforming, and making sure that each person feels like an important asset to the program provides a platform that everyone wants to participate in. My position as a drum major gave me an even greater experience in understanding how to lead in a positive way and work with one of my greatest role models. Mr. Hodson is the best positive leader I have ever had the chance to learn from, and I will forever do my best to lead by his example.
Mr. Hodson has dedicated many years to his students expecting the very best out of each and every one of them. He gets them to do it too! It’s because he walks the walk and talks the talk. The kids and community know that he gives his all to them. He just expects it back. He deserves this ultimate recognition because he has earned it and because he really cares about each and every student he has ever encountered. I was one of those students and my children are now in his classes and rehearsals. They love and respect him and are awfully sad he is retiring. As are many people. We will definitely miss him and the standards he has placed for his kids. You can always achieve perfection, but you can always raise the bar higher. There is always a goal, but we can be happy with it, however, what can we do to make it better? Make it outstanding! Make it Spectacular! Always believe in greatness. We believe in you
and admire the lessons of life, greatness, and achievements that each of us find in ourselves. Thanks Chuck for first being our teacher, and becoming a great friend.
Chuck Hodson is an inspiration to every life he touches. Life's lessons are inherent in everything Chuck teaches. "To be early is to be on time" is one of his more famous quotes and a creed by which his students are expected to live. But it doesn't stop there! Check doesn't just teach students, he grows leaders. Whether you are a beginning instrumentalist, a drum major out front, a thriving musician, or even an over-zealous band parent, there is always a place for you to serve.
I have known Chuck professionally for 15 years, working together in the same school district. I have had the pleasure of serving as a "band parent" under Chuck's leadership for the past 6 years. Time and again I have observed students, including my own children, achieve at higher levels than they ever thought possible. Chuck believes in his kids and sees so much potential that the rest of us often overlook. His skill and passion at drawing out leadership and talent from his young charges is unsurpassed!
Leading a successful organization requires a level of grace, too. Chuck always finds something positive to say. Furthermore, he is masterful at creating learning experiences where kids can get the feedback they need and raise their own level of performance, while always feeling assured, positive and supported.
Chuck is known for saying, "Always proud, never satisfied." I believe this is what makes him a LIFECHANGER. To be satisfied means you have stopped growing, you can no longer get better. This is not an option for Chuck and those who learn from him. Every student knows they can always get better. And they do!
This past November, Chuck and his students engaged in their very last rehearsal. They worked incredibly hard and had so much fun preparing for what they knew would be their last performance together and Mr. Hodson's last marching band performance of his career. At the end of that rehearsal, they gathered in for final comments and words of encouragement, a predictably emotional time. Chuck shared accolades and excitement for the upcoming performance, and a few tears rolled. And then a few more. A kiddo from the front row jumped up and hugged him spontaneously! A couple others followed. And then the entire band enjoyed a huge group hug. Those kids will never forget how they felt. This is what being a LIFECHANGER is all about.
Chuck Hodson turns his students into young caring adults. His expectations for his band students are very high, and it makes them strive for more.....which is exactly why Reeths Puffer has a small truckload of trophies and medals on display! His dedication to excellence rubs off on these kids, and they don’t want to “ let him down” by getting less than top scores. They spend hours, days, weeks in the summer practicing in the hot summer sun, and the RP community reaps the benefits in the fall when those kids turn in performances that impresses other bands in the area. As a retired RP educator, I’m sure that some of his students may be doing better in band than they might be doing academically, because this is something in which they can excel. If anyone deserves this award, it is certainly Chuck Hodson.
Chuck has high expectations that are achievable and make ALL reach to a higher level. He has achieved this repeatedly for the Reeths-Puffer 100s of band students for decades. No doubt in my mind that the Reeths-Puffer community is a better place because of his influence. Chuck Hodson is very deserving of this Life Changer Award.
I'm not sure who I would have become if Mr. Hodson had never been a part of my life. I was never in band, but I was a member of the Reeths-Puffer Colorguard in the 2003-2006 marching seasons. During that time our marching band won two regional championships, two state championships, and competed as national semi-finalists. But, Mr. Hodson has given me so much more than a collection of medals. Respect, pride, discipline, integrity, and hard work are what he really teaches. He has shaped the lives of so many in the community, inspiring them to keep working toward their goals. As a teacher in the same school district, I strive to care for, and inspire my students like him. So many of my high school memories involve marching band, and when I get together with other alumni, its guaranteed that at least one story of marching band will be shared. Reeths-Puffer schools will not be the same without Mr. Hodson's leadership.
In Mr. Hodson's final words at stadium echoes this year, he addressed the alumni in the crowd (it seemed like most of us were alumni) and said "If there's one thing I hope you took away from your experience in the band, I hope that you had fun while we were working hard together." It is clear in his teaching style and methodology that hard work and excellence are important, not just in music, but in life. He often talked about the importance of diligence in our every day lives and beyond being an incredible music educator, I think a lot of us built our work ethic in the Reeths-Puffer Marching Band.
The 2018 Reeths-Puffer Marching Band season truly marks the end of an era. Congratulations to Mr. Chuck Hodson on a fantastic, successful career. You've had a positive impact on so many students throughout the years. Marching band taught us about commitment, hard work, time management, and most importantly, created the strongest bonds of friendship in my life (I have found that music tends to do that). Every time I go back and see the RPMB, the feelings of nostalgia can be a little overwhelming. Thanks for being a dedicated leader and mentor to so many, but most importantly, thanks for the memories. I know so many people who cherish their time in the RPMB as their greatest high school experience. If anyone deserves this award, it's Chuck Hodson. He is most certainly a changer of lives.
Chuck is dedicated to providing the absolute best opportunity to our students through the band program. I have worked in the district with Chuck for 24 years, and the consistency of his high level of expectations for this is admirable. A co-worker and I have often said we hope to be the "Chuck Hodson of special education" meaning we will advocate for the best possible programming by whatever means it takes! He has a vision and no dream is too big. He will figure out how to make it a reality as a leader of a team. He doesn't work alone, he inspires people to work with him which is truly a characteristic of a great leader. He inspires me even being in a different department completely. He has that gift.
I have had the opportunity and privilege to watch Chuck Hodson positively and consistently change lives in our students and district for decades. The values that Chuck instills in our students are values that last a lifetime. While our kids are better musicians under his tutelage, those traits pale in comparison to the fact that they leave our program better brothers, sisters, teammates, future parents, and in general, better equipped to add value to everything they touch. Chuck's work with our kids and community will resonate in the fabric of our humble district for eternity.
We were new to the district and our son Isaac has a passion for music. Mr. Hodson talked to us so informatively and on such a personal level, we couldnt wait to get Isaac involved. Mr Hodson invited Isaac and myself to come in early during the summer and talk to him about anything and everything. Mr. Hidson even had set up for Isaac to spend some time with the drum majors to have a "crash course" of Reeths-Puffer marching band. Mr. Hodson went above and beyond not only for our student but thousands. This wasn't a one time thing, it's how he views life. My son, and my family were so blessed to have him for the one year we did. And it's not just about the music. It's about life, and shaping these students, preparing them for their next journey. He is absolutely worthy of this award.
He helped mold me into the person I am today. He taught me so many life lessons that no other teacher could and I can’t thank him enough. Thank you so much for all you did for us.
Mr. Hodson has been an outstanding teacher and mentor for both of my children. I am very proud of their achievements throughout the years in band and this is all because of Mr. Hodson's dedication to the program.
"Mediocrity is the standard of excellence for the incompetent."
"To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late."
Heady words for a teenager. I admit, I still struggle with the second of those two maxims. But those, and many others, have shaped the last 25 years of my life, since Chuck Hodson imprinted them in my psyche. I was there in his first years as a new director at Reeths-Puffer schools (though he was well experienced, having done his customarily awesome work at Hartford schools for years prior). I also had the privilege of standing to the side and watching him experience his marching band's final performance in national competition with him in the lead. Even then, though I was able to capture a poignant seeming photo of him watching the show from the press box, in reality he was working every second of that time, in constant contact with people on the field to ensure the audio equipment was set up correctly and taking voice notes to himself on what to do better in the future. He never stops.
That drive, that passion, that desire for excellence, all of these things inform every student's opinion of who this man is. A few minutes after that final performance, in the cloud of emotion that always attends the last show of the year, he told an interviewer, simply, "I teach about life." And he does. It's not the moments making music that stand out to me when I consider Chuck's teaching. It the moment when he cancelled an entire rehearsal and gathered us all together at a white board to diagram and explain the natural tendency to plateau our performance level and stop improving at a certain point in the season, while also telling us we were better than that, and that we could overcome that tendency. We did then, and I still try to today. It's also the allegory of the ladder to perfection: perfection is an unattainable goal, but if you keep taking steps that take you halfway from where you are to your goal, those distances between rungs become shorter and shorter. It took me years for this idea to help me understand the idea of Limits in my calculus class, but it's helped me in general life every day - I can't BE perfect, but I can work to be perfect. It was his definition of "late to rehearsal" - which was "arriving after him" - a definition that caused some entertaining races between him and students. And there was the moment after a particularly tough rehearsal when I mouthed off pretty loud, and he retorted in precisely the manner that smart-mouthed teenager I was deserved - and then he apologized later.
Dignity, class, and drive. Do the right thing, the right way, lead by example, and always try to be better. The outcomes of Chuck's teachings about life are seeded throughout the community, and at this point all over the world. His students have worked overseas in China, have served in wars, and have become key volunteers and workers at multi-million dollar non-profits and charitable organizations. They are lawyers, managers, factory workers, and parents. They make an impact, because he made an impact.
Going back to that final national competition where perfectly explained to us, "I teach about life," - I work with the organization that produces the event, Music For All, because of my time with Chuck. When people ask why I work 18-20 hour days on my feet in the open weather for now pay, my answer is "because some people did it for me when I was a kid." The one of those people who stands above the others is Chuck Hodson. He changed my life. He's changed thousands of other lives. He will continue changing lives in the job he's agreed to take on in retirement. I can think of no more fitting honor for him.
Congratulations on being nominated Mr. Hodson! You helped mold my son into the responsible adult he has become, thank you!!
Chuck Hodson is so much to so many people, but for me and my family...this is how I feel about Chuck..
Lighthouses symbolize the way forward and help in navigating our way through rough waters whether those waters be financial, personal, business or spiritual in nature. Nothing else speaks of safety and security in the face of adversity and challenge quite the way a lighthouse does.
Thank you from my ever being for ever thing you have done for us...for guiding my boys to be the best they could be..When Dolen started band 5th grade..drums..I thought good Lord not drums...then as time passed I couldn't wait for him to be in battery..that happened fast...and just in a blink of and eye..he walked out of his shoes..
A lighthouse is a tower topped with a very bright(yellow hat) light called a beacon..
You have been that Beacon..
If everyone who views Chuck Hodson as a life changer shared and commented, he would win hands down. What he taught about accountability, working and playing hard, dedication/commitment, and punctuality has stuck with me for more than 20 years.
Other than my family, Chuck Hodson has been one of the most influential people in my life. For thirty years he has used music to transform generations of Reeths-Puffer students' mindsets. He has inspired us to reach higher, to work together, and to live bigger. Some of these success stories can be measured in fantastically successful former students, and others in the small ways we each have lived within our own families and communities. Chuck turned the RPHSMB into the crown jewel of the Reeths-Puffer area and has infused the community with pride in its championship caliber program. Nobody could be more deserving of this honor.
I was a part of the RPMB from 2006-2009 (4 shows). When you are a member of Mr. Hodson's marching band, you live and breathe it. We practiced excellence not just on the field, but off as well. We were taught discipline, patience, perseverance and professionalism. When you put on that RP uniform and marched on the field, you became more than just an individual. We were as one, weaving a story for all who came to watch. It takes a special human being to wrangle 150 teenagers from all different perspectives and backgrounds and inspire them to function as a cohesive unit. "Life changer of the year" is a perfect title for Chuck Hodson. Even now, almost a decade out from my time with him, I use the many soft skills I learned every day as a young professional in my field. Mr. Hodson is the shining example of a true leader. He is both effortlessly strong willed and well-respected, while remaining humble. I find it hard to really articulate how indebted I am to his leadership and kindness. Thank you so much for your many years of service to both myself and the many thousands of young minds that were shaped by your excellence.
To the man who truly shaped who I am as a person in so many ways—
Going into high school, I wasn’t known as Linnea, I was known as “Hodson’s Daughter”. It’s one thing to have your parent as a teacher—it’s a WHOLE experience to have your dad as your award-winning marching band director. My 4 years of high school were spent living and breathing band. Not because I loved playing clarinet, but because of 1) the environment and community that my dad created and 2) the pure passion that he had for what he did. Throughout all my years in the band program, one thing rang true no matter what—in all our competitions, performances, whatever, winning did not matter. What mattered was working hard with the people around you to create something amazing, and something that we were proud of. This marching band provided me with leadership training, and taught me how to work, and work HARD for what I loved. I feel so lucky that I grew up with a role model that had such passion for what he does, and makes sure that he is instilling life values that truly stick with every. single. student. he comes in contact with.
I see him in myself everyday. Every day I see those values he taught me, come through in my own teaching. The passion he had for his work, I see in my own. I make sure that my dancers are in it for the right reason, just like he taught me when I was in band. You leave a legacy behind, and I’m so proud of have been a part.
Mr. Hodson not only shaped my highschool experience, but my college experiences in the years since I graduated. The work ethic and time management he demanded during band rehearsal has helped me in my academics and in my work place. Mr. Hodson created a family environment where each kid who walked into the band room at RPHS felt safe and accepted, and I will never forget the impact he has made on my life. There is no one else more deserving of this award.
As I have only been with his teaching for a little under two years, Mr. Hodson has brought such a great change into not only my life, but so many others. He has taught us about life, challenges and hard work. I am honored that I was able to experience his last two years, and have been able to learn from him. He left his mark and is the reason people will remember our name, Reeths-Puffer. I thank him for his amazing hard work and his greatness.
Really enjoyed my years with Mr. Hodson as my band director!!
As a parent of a band member and Past school board member of teeth’s-Puffer School District, there are not adequate words to summarize the impact this man has made, instilled, and blessed so many students lives in our district over his career with the dustrict. Long after the students and parents involved with his program, the values he lives and passes on to us all carry well into the lives of everyone well beyond high school. Excellence, honesty, personal best, hard work ethic, expectation, commitment, are only a few of the values he is and creates for his band family. He has been a blessing to our district and band program who has created an awesome band program and leaves a very special legacy in his retirement. He has changed and effected so many lives over his career with us for staff, administration, students, parents, and community members.
Mr. Hodson is the epitome of a LifeChanger. Both of my daughters are in the Marching Band, one a freshman and one a senior. His coaching has been instrumental in helping to develop their character as they learn about life and enter adulthood.
His students believe in him, trust him and respect him because they know he believes, trusts and respects them. He teaches each student that what counts is the process, he allows them to fail when necessary because sometimes that is what it takes to succeed. Perhaps the exceptional performances and subsequent championships are just icing on the cake, manifestations of a solid foundation from a Band Director whose passion, dedication and love of what he does becomes passed on to the students he cares about.
Congratulations Chuck, you have changed lives!
You don’t have to be a Reeths-Puffer band alumni to know the impact this man has on his band kids. I am so thankful for what Mr. Hodson has taught our daughter just in the last 3 years she has had him. So proud of this program and everything it stands for!! Thank you Chuck Hodson!!!
As a parent volunteer. I was asked to lead a group. My thought was I can’t do this. Mr Hodson believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for all you taught me and my 2 students.
Mr. Hodson is an amazing educator. I learned so much from him beyond musical skills. He spent time investing in his students to teach life skills oike the importance of integrity, punctuality, hard work, and grit. While RP may have a new director, Mr. Hodson is simply irreplaceable.
I’ve learned under Mr. Hodson for the last four years, and he has changed my life. I am a senior this year and have had the honor to be a part of his last class here at Reeths-Puffer. The quote “to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is unacceptable” is only one of the countless lessons Mr. Hodson has taught me. He has more than earned this award for all that he’s done for countless students.
Chuck Hodson is an amazing teacher, leader, and friend! I learned so much from him as a student and spent many extra hours with him outside of class while working in the band office. He teaches music and he teaches skills that are used for the rest of your life.
As the parent of a student, he continues to help each of the kids reach their potential and strive for more. Seeing the changes in my son, and other students, makes my heart happy!
Chuck Hodson is one in a million and I am forever greatful as a student, parent, and friend.
Mr. Hodson is an amazing friend and colleague; a true inspiration!
Mr. Hodson made me dig deep, to find strength and determination I didn’t even know I had. I strived to make him proud, and to prove to myself I could continue reaching goals. The lessons I learned from Mr. Hodson have helped me in all aspects of my life.
It was an honor to be his student, and I cannot thank him enough.
In addition to the lessons he taught me, my son also got the privilege of being his student. My son changed immensely in just one summer. He found his passion for drumming, and developed a great attitude and work ethic.
Mr. Hodson, impacted my life for many years. I was involved with the band for 10 years between droning and color guard. I will never be able to thank Mr. Hodon enough for what he has taught me.
OFF WITH HER HEAD!!
I couldn’t think of a more deserving candidate for such an award. Mr. Hodson wasn’t just an instructor. He truly cares about each of his students he came across and teaches so much more than just music!