Victoria resident Joan Hansen was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and grew up in Mission, B.C. After attaining her B.A., Hansen continued her music studies at UBC, majoring in piano and in composition with Jean Coulthard. Later, having attained her Pb teaching certificate for graduates (UVIC Ed.) she taught in Vancouver and North Vancouver schools. On returning to Victoria she attained an AVCM and taught both private and class composition and 20th-Century music courses at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, and started the composition classes at VCM summer school, now held at UVIC Piano Summer School.
She was twice awarded the Charles Shaw Scholarship for her early concert music. Her concert works have been aired on radio and television outlets including CBC and American Public Radio, and have been performed internationally. Her educational music has been performed worldwide, and is listed in numerous exam and festival syllabi.
In 1979 Hansen was included in the World Who's Who of Women for "distinguished achievement as a composer, adjudicator and clinician."
Joan Hansen's published piano music includes the Music of Our Time series co-composed with Jean Coulthard and David Duke, pub. Waterloo; Two Sundances, the CFMTA Diamond Jubilee Collection, pub. Waterloo and recorded in the Glen Gould studio, Toronto, produced by CBC; Variations on a Theme by Murray Adaskin, co-composed with Imant Raminsh, Dale Reubart, Lorna Paterson, Ernst Schneider, Patrick Godfrey and Stephen Chatman, pub. Victoria Piano Summer School and available through CMC; and Whisper Time, a collection of 18 elementary and intermediate piano solos, pub. Waterloo, 2004. Her music also appears in didactic books such as Contemporary Class Piano by Elyse Mach, 6th edition, 2003, pub. Oxford University Press, USA.
In November, 2005, the Victoria Conservatory of Music presented a "Celebration of the Music of Joan Hansen" at the Alix Goolden Performance Hall.The concert featured the world premiere of Hansen's The Curfew Tolls, commissioned and performed by Lawrence Skaggs, principal cellist Victoria Symphony Orchestra, and Susan de Burgh, Victoria-based pianist and music educator