They say that those who can’t do, teach. We don’t agree. In fact, neither do the Grammy’s. That’s why each year, they undergo exhaustive selection process to choose one music teacher in the United States to receive the Grammy Music Educator Award. The Grammy Music Educator award was established in 2013 to recognize music teachers ranging from kindergarten to college who made a significant impact and contribution to music education.
Other than learning that one of your students was nominated for a Grammy, for a music teacher, being nominated for a Grammy honoring their work to transform children’s lives is one of the best feelings in the world. 213 quarterfinalists hailing from 194 schools in 42 states made the cut, and among them are seven Little Kids Rock teachers!
A suggestion box sits on a table in the music room at Marie Curie Middle School in New York City. As music teacher Jennifer Schecter reaches in to read the daily suggestions, she finds a familiar request: a beginner guitar class. Unfortunately, Jennifer does not specialize in guitar and thus, does not know how to teach it.
Knowing that her students wanted to learn to play guitar, and that her main goal was to engage them in making music, she decided to do something about it. Jennifer took the initiative and attended one of Little Kids Rock’s training sessions, where she learned how to play the guitar, teach music as a second language, and to meet students where they are by teaching them the music they know and love.
Now, in addition to teaching nearly 225 students everyday in Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Band, as well as Jazz Band and Chamber Music, she offers a beginner guitar class after school, and her students love it!
The Little Kids Rock curriculum and donated instruments have not only added an extra class to Jennifer’s music program, but has also impacted the way she teaches her Jazz Band, into which she has been able to incorporate the amplified guitars and keyboards donated by Little Kids Rock. For the kids, the sound difference has been incredible! Before the addition of these instruments, the band’s sound was not as strong nor were her students’ interest in it. Now, for the kids, playing guitar and piano is completely different than it was before Jennifer was able to crank up the volume on their learning experience.
She encourages her students to be active in the community, and has multiple students who participate in regional and all-city festivals. Many of Jennifer’s students continue music throughout high school and some even go onto college to study music, which is a major testament to the power that an engaging music program can have on students’ overall education. One of her students even graduated with a Music Education degree and certification, which was a moment of pride in her career that rivals her Grammy nomination!
Jennifer says how humbling it is for her to be nominated, again, as she has been nominated each of the three years that the award has been in existence, but this is the first time she is a quarterfinalist.
“I feel like there are so many teachers who are as good as I am or even better,” Jennifer says. “For me, the reward is working with the kids. You come in to impact students’ lives and hope to also teach life lessons that inspire them through music!”
Written by: Natalie Morrison