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!
Meet Vivian Gonzalez,
Budget cuts threaten the existence of inner city school music departments across the US every year, but when Vivian Gonzalez learned that South Miami K-8 School, the school that fostered her lifelong love of music, was in danger of going silent, she decided to return to her alma mater to help save the program that had a huge impact on her life.
“I was a middle school teacher for six years,” she says. “When I realized how vitally important elementary music education was for the middle school, high school and college music programs, so I ‘demoted’ myself, gave myself a large pay cut, and committed to being an elementary school music teacher.”
She decided to take the job as the sole instrumental music teacher at her former middle school, teaching about 125 students every instrument that was available, including Steel Drums, Handbells, Strings and Choir.
Since Vivian’s robust music program already offered so many different instrument options, she was surprised with the excited and positive reactions she saw from her students when she started the Modern Band program through Little Kids Rock. They were overjoyed to play the drums, electric guitar, bass and keyboard, mostly because they were able to learn to play the music that they knew and loved, but it didn’t hurt that the initial introduction of Modern Band came in a special way.
Little Kids Rock teamed up with Country Music stars Lady Antebellum and surprised Vivian and her class when the trio visited with a huge donation of instruments for her classroom!
Some of those same students visited University of Miami’s Frost School of Music to play some music for some other teachers who were taking Little Kids Rock’s training, and showed them just how quickly a Modern Band program could take hold, performing One Love with Stephen Marley himself just a few days after learning the song.
Vivian has been a Grammy Music Educator nominee each of the past three years, and each time, she has been the only elementary school teacher representing Florida. She has made it to the Top 25 and even the Top 10! This is no accident, as her students and colleagues see the passion she brings to the classroom every single day, because it is the classroom that instilled that passion in her years ago, when she herself was a student.
Written by: Natalie Morrison