After 32 years of teaching, Michael J. Budds knows music.
Still, the MU professor said, “there are only two kinds of music: good music and bad music, and sometimes I can’t tell the difference.”
Budds’ teaching goes far beyond the difference between good and bad music. The professor of music history, music appreciation and music bibliography is known for helping students understand music on an intellectual level, as well as exposing students to new genres.
On Sept. 13, Budds was inducted into the Missouri Music Hall of Fame.
Created in 2009, the Missouri Music Hall of Fame serves to appreciate and preserve the diverse musical history of Missouri. Every year, the organization, operated by the St. Joseph Music Foundation, recognizes notable individuals who have contributed to music in Missouri.
“There has never been a Hall of Fame for the state,” President and Curator of the hall Anthony Glise said. “St Joseph’s felt like this would be an important endeavor for those people who should be celebrated in Missouri music.”
Glise called Budds “a brilliant scholar and tremendous educator.”
The recognition is one of many for Budds. He was named a William T. Kemper Fellow for Excellence in Teaching in 2000 and a Curator’s Teaching Professor in 2013.
Budds, a specialist in American music, African-American music and the music of Victorian England, uses his wide breadth of knowledge in his publications.
For 20 years, he has served as the editor of two book series for the College Music Society, an organization of music educators in the U.S. and Canada.
Although he has published extensively, Budds stresses that teaching students is his first priority.
“I am deeply devoted to the concept of research, but I didn’t become a university teacher to be a researcher,” he said. “I became a university teacher to teach people.”
Budds’ devotion to teaching is clear when he speaks of former students.
In one anecdote, he recalls a student who told him he had ruined music for him because his classes caused him to think instead of feel.
“All music of all times and all places is emotional,” Budds said. “But it’s also intellectual … That was the highest compliment that could be paid to me. That I had, in fact, made him think.”
Julia Gaines, director of the School of Music, said classes taught by Budds are hard work, but students who tackled the workload have returned after graduation thanking him for teaching so many skills.
Gaines said his success is “a combination of being a very passionate teacher and an aggressive one.”
Budds credits his early interests in history and music as the driving force behind his passion for music education. He said he knew he wanted to be a teacher as early as the first grade.
After a lifetime of listening to music, Budds emphasizes the role individual change plays in the listening experience.
“Most of the great pieces of music, you can listen to for a lifetime and they keep giving you things every time you hear them,” he said. “One of the privileges of what I do for a living is (that) I get to keep going back to certain pieces … and some of them just keep getting better and better and better. Some of them lose their luster. I’m a different person every time I go back to listen to them one more time.”