Congratulations to the Grammy Foundation for recognizing outstanding musical warriors

Kindergarten through college teachers are eligible for the new annual award, which will be presented at a special ceremony the day before the Grammy Awards. Students and colleagues can nominate candidates onlineRecording Academy president Neil Portnow says the group has established a music educator award that will be presented for the first time next year.

GRAMMY In The Schools Live! with Juanes, Feb. 7, 2013

GRAMMY In The Schools Live! with Juanes, Feb. 7, 2013

Recording Academy president Neil Portnow announced the new award Thursday at the Grammy Foundation’s 15th annual Music Preservation Project event at the Saban Theatre.

“We’re dedicated to preserving the great music of the past, present and future,” he said. “Music education is perhaps the most vital part of the Grammy Foundation’s mission.”

There is a small poster on a wall I pass by every day. It  consists of a brief musical excerpt with a brief inscription below:   “If you can read this, thank a music teacher.” Artists in every musical genre know of a music teacher who played an important part in their lives; perhaps when they were in grade school. A special educator who inspired them to go to on to achieve big musical goals.

An award from the Grammys finally acknowledge and validate the importance of music education in our school. When musical programs are cut because of budget, one needs to step back and realize the deleterious effect this can have on the students as well as the community. Music education is not a frill, not a throw away or a whim.

Learning music from these dedicated music teachers in all types of communities is a right. It’s status should be on equal par with math, science, and language arts. When you kill a music program you are killing off an integral part of cultural. And once it’s dead, it soon becomes forgotten.

Congratulations to the Grammy Foundation for recognizing these outstanding musical warriors!

Autism Spectrum: Emotional Regulation through Clarinet Lessons at 2012 VASC VCA Convention

Grace Kolman, Doctoral Student at James Madison University and Maestro Barry Kolman, currently Professor of Music, Washington & Lee University presented “Autism Spectrum: Emotional Regulation through Clarinet Lessons” at the 2012 Virginia Counselors Association Annual Convention. The annual convention was held at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center on November 15 -17, 2012. 

The presenters explored the significant emotional benefits of teaching music to adolescents with Autism. One particular case was assessed with a live clarinet performance. The instructors and students then reported  on how the experience changed their lives. 

A Story of Tenacity. There is nothing you cannot accomplish if you are willing to work hard for it!

One of the great perks of being a conductor and a teacher is having the opportunity of meeting some incredible people along the way. When I was in China, I met a group of young musicians first starting out playing in an orchestra. I had the thrill to work with them for several weeks. Then there was the time when I was conducting in the old Soviet Union (many years ago) and I muttered to myself, after a long rehearsal, “Boy, I wish I had a beer.” The next day one of the percussionists of the Orchestra, definitely not a rich man, laid a case of beer on my podium.

There have been times of great inspiration as well–where one particular young woman comes to mind.

She was 17 when she arrived in the United States, but due to some personal circumstances, she came to this country without any documents of the years of hard (music) work she produced while in high school. This alone would have frustrated most of us to just give up. Not to mention that her English was minimal to boot. What she did in the next 18 months is nothing short of astounding.

She needed to learn English first so she found a local free ESL class and went to class on a regular basis and before long learned English, just like that. This studious Latina from Brazil had bigger dreams; to attend a University in the United States, but she had no diploma or grade transcripts to show what classes she took and excelled in. Though this would be a roadblock to many, it was not one to her. She took the G.E.D. exam and went to a community college for a year. Still not enough for her, she had a dream and was determined to fulfill it. She applied to several major Universities after studying for and eventually taking the incredibly difficult and ominous S.A.T.s.

With all that behind her, she is now living her dream. Presently she is a full-time second year student at the prestigious University of Virginia with hopes of being accepted into their world-renown School of Business.

I might also mention that this bright, highly motivated young woman is my daughter!

Gabriela, the best of luck to you as you embark on this wonderful journey! I am in awe of what you have accomplished in less than two years; your family loves you and is so very proud of you.

Hopefully, others will read this story and realize there is nothing you can’t accomplish if you are willing to work hard, show great tenacity and have a burning desire to be the best.