I don’t know about you, but I was thrilled to see the GRAMMY Awards honor a music teacher last night!
The first-ever Music Educator Award went to Kent Knappenberger of Westfield Academy and Central School in Westfield, N.Y. Knappenberger was selected for the award from a field of more than 32,000 applicants. He was nominated for the award nearly a year ago by two former students and the parent of a current student. The award comes with a $10,000 honorarium for the teacher, which Knappenberger said he would use to buy instruments, sheet music, equipment and perhaps some musical “experiences” for students that would otherwise have been out of reach.
It is truly refreshing to see the Grammy Foundation embracing the importance of music and arts education. We’ve all heard the statistics, and most of us have experienced the benefit of some music or arts education first-hand. Students in high-quality school music programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district. Schools that have music programs have significantly higher attendance rates than do those without programs. Schools that have music programs have significantly higher graduation rates than do those without music programs. Learning music facilitates learning in other subjects, like reading and arithmetic, and enhances life skills that are necessary in other areas. More advanced language development, increased IQ, stronger spatial-temporal skills, heightened sense of empathy, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to express oneself. A solid foundation in music and the arts offers all of this and more.
New Jersey’s own Andrew DeNicola, band director and teacher at John P Stevens High School in Edison, was among the ten finalists for the award. Andrew DeNicola is a living legend to hundreds of J.P. Stevens High School students, many of whom return to tell the long time music educator and Band Director that his passion for instilling musical excellence has inspired them and impacted their lives long after graduation. Now the world far beyond J.P. Stevens High School will learn about DeNicola’s ability to inspire students, as he has been selected as a quarter finalist for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award in 2014. The GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy are partnering to present their first-ever Music Educator Award to recognize music educators for their contributions to our musical landscape and their positive influence on their students’ musical experiences.
Applications for the second annual Music Educator Award are currently available online at www.grammymusicteacher.com. The deadline to nominate a teacher is March 31, 2014. The application process will adjust each year to allow the broad array of effective teaching styles and methods used in the discipline to be recognized and awarded.
So please, nominate an inspiration today!