Founding Chair of Cal State Fullertonís Music Department Dies
September 24, 2004 :: No. 42
Joseph W. Landon, emeritus professor and founding
chair of music at Cal State Fullerton, died September 21 of natural
causes. The Fullerton resident was 89 years old.
Landon joined the university faculty in 1960 —
the first year classes were held on the campus’s permanent
site — and served as department chair until 1969. From the
outset and through 1981, he also served as coordinator of music
Under his direction, the music faculty adopted a
competency-based curriculum for the preparation of teachers that
attracted national and international attention. As a result, CSUF
was designated by the Music Educators National Conference in the
mid-1970s as one of only 22 colleges and universities in the United
States having “an innovative and exemplary preservice curriculum”
for music education majors. Since then, most college- and university-based
music education programs have incorporated the same type of approach.
Also under his leadership, the Music Department was
granted accreditation in 1966 by the National Association of Schools
of Music — the youngest college or university department of
music to receive the recognition.
Professionally, Landon served as president of the
California Music Educators Association. One of the highlights of
his tenure was serving under Walt Disney during the 1960 Winter
Olympic Games in Squaw Valley as the event pageant’s music
In addition, he was chair of the NOTABLES, an organization
of former university professors and leading music educators in California;
chairman and member of the State Textbook Committee in Music; member
of a 12-person delegation of professional music educators to Vietnam
in 1993, appointed by the Citizen Ambassador Program of People to
People International; and project coordinator for the IDEAL (Interdisciplinary
Education through the Arts and Language) program, which involved
more than 10,000 elementary school children in 15 schools in Orange
Landon’s published books included “Clinical
Practice in Music Education, a Guide to Field Experiences in the
Preparation of Teachers,” “Leadership for Learning in
Music Education” and “How to Write Learning Activity
Packages for Music Education.”
Among his honors were: the Irene Schoepfle Award
as outstanding music educator of the year in Orange County; outstanding
professor for the College of the Arts; Outstanding Service Award
from the Orange County Arts Alliance; and Special Recognition Award
from the IDEAL Foundation for service in arts education.
Landon began his musical career as a violin soloist
with the Pasadena Symphony at age 15 and was concertmaster for the
Occidental College Community Symphony at age17. He played with Southern
California symphonies and studied conducting. During World War II,
he played with the NBC/CBS Armed Forces Radio Service Orchestra
under Meredith Wilson. Prior to joining Cal State Fullerton, he
was director of music education for the San Jacinto and San Bernardino
County school districts.
At CSUF, he also served as interim chair of the Humanities
Division and chair of the University Personnel and Teacher Education
Committee. He was a member of the Academic Senate, SEC-TEP (Secondary-Teacher
Education Program) Education Council and the College of the Arts
“Joe was a dedicated musician — dedicated to excellence
and was an outstanding colleague,” says James D. Young, emeritus
professor and founding chair of theatre at Cal State Fullerton.
“He was involved in teacher education in music and was interested
in seeing that young people had access to music.”
Although he retired in 1981, Landon and his late
wife, Sibyl, maintained close ties to and an interest in the university,
including creating the Landon Founder’s Scholarship for strings.
Together, they left a legacy in the form of a planned gift —
the Joseph W. and Sibyl H. Landon Memorial Grant — to the
Music Department, which will endow a scholarship for students who
play stringed instruments. Last year, Landon donated $25,000 to
the university’s new Performing Arts Center, currently under
“He was so good at establishing a direction
for the Music Department,” says Jerry Samuelson, dean of the
College of the Arts. “Joe had a great vision and made really
significant and wonderful faculty hires. He was so interested in
the new building. He was at the groundbreaking last year. My hope
was that he would live to see the opening. He would have been amazed
Always the teacher, Landon also continued his interest
in music education, volunteering several days a week at Acacia Elementary
School in Fullerton teaching music to youngsters.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Occidental College
and his master’s from Claremont Graduate School. He earned
his educational doctorate from USC.
Landon is survived by 20 nieces, nephews and cousins
from California and Colorado. Plans for a memorial service are pending.
Donations may be made to the Joseph W. and Sibyl H. Landon Memorial
Grant, care of the Cal State Fullerton University Advancement Foundation,
2600 Nutwood Ave., Fullerton, CA 92831.
Gail Matsunaga, Public Affairs, 657-278-4851
Elizabeth Champion, College of the Arts, 657-278-2434
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