Many of the artists whose music we purchase and listen to are Grammy Award recipients. Named for Emile Berliner’s invention, the gramophone, these awards are given annually by The Recording Academy to honor excellence in the music industry.
Award categories range from Classical to Hip-Hop, with awards for Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Artist of the Year. Started as part of the Hollywood Walk of Fame Project in the late 1950s, the Grammys were developed to honor musicians for their contributions to our musical heritage each year.
Those awards have changed as the music business has changed, adding and removing categories as popular music ebbed and flowed. Classical, Rock & Roll and Country & Western continue to be considered; Disco is no longer while Hip-Hop and Rap are relatively new.
Originally awarded in a ceremony in November of each year, the Grammys are now a television event, usually on the second Sunday in February. The venue for the ceremony changed for many years, but it is now generally held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles where a portion of the building is used as the museum for the awards.
So, what do the Grammys have to do with this magazine and music education in our schools? A re-organization of the categories in 2012 brought about the inclusion of several new awards, including Grammys that school performing groups may receive – notably the GRAMMY Music Educator Award. As the Grammys state:
For every performer who makes it to the GRAMMY stage, there was a teacher who played a critical role in getting them there. And really, that’s true for all of us who are making music today. Maybe they introduced you to your first instrument. Or they showed you how to get over your stage fright. Or maybe they just inspired you to have the confidence to go for it when you were ready to give up.
It’s time to say thank you to ALL of those teachers who put in ALL of those hours to make sure that ALL of us love and play music today! And who better to do that than the people who bring you the GRAMMY Awards?
Supported by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the National Education Association (NEA), the GRAMMY Music Educator Award is highly coveted and like the other national awards, just being nominated is a true honor and worthy of note.
Current, full-time educators in the United States who teach music in private or public schools – kindergarten to college – are eligible to be nominated. Recent recipients include Melissa Salguero, the 2018 recipient who teaches music in PS 48 in the South Bronx, the poorest congressional district in the United States, where she has taken a program without funding or instruments, and earned grants and awards to make sure her students have the opportunity to participate in music. The 2017 recipient was Keith Hancock from California’s Tesoro High School, an award-winning school district where he provides choral music instruction for more than 250 students while maintaining an active performing and teaching schedule.
Does your school have a Grammy award recipient in your music department? Being nominated is an honor in itself and those who are selected as finalists are included in the Grammy Award Ceremony in Los Angeles. Nominations are accepted from fellow music educators, school administrators, parents or even students until mid-fall each year. Semi-finalists, finalists and recipients all receive honorariums as well. More information is available here.
Is there a future Grammy Award recipient at your school?
Steffen Parker, a member of the High School Today Publications Committee, is a music educator, computer geek and instructional support specialist from Vermont, where he organizes music festivals and supports other states with online services for their events.