For example, you may have walked away from the GRAMMYs already knowing who Sam Smith is and why we just need to stay with him… but do you know who Jason Vieaux is? How about Jared Cassedy? Angelique Kidjo? Unless you are a professional musician or music educator, my guess is, probably not. But to me, these are the stars of the show.
You may or may not know that the GRAMMYs have a pre-show gala “The GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony,” where the remainder of the 83 GRAMMY awards were presented… you know, the ones that don’t make the televised “cut.” Awards presented at the pre-show event include: Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Best World Music Album, Best Musical Theater Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Opera Performance, Best Choral Performance and Best Classical Solo Vocal Album, to name just a few. And of course, entirely separate from either show as part of the “GRAMMYs in the Schools” program, is probably the most important award that can be given to any musician today: the GRAMMY Music Educator Award. This year’s Music Educator award went to Jared Cassedy, director of bands at Windham High School, in Windham, New Hampshire who was selected from a pool of 7,000 initial nominations for the award!
Educating the next generation’s musicians and artists is one of the most important roles in our world today (at least in my opinion)! Music allows for a deep form of expression and helps individuals’ emotional, creative and intellectual development. But too many times we ignore the needs of our music educators and young musicians; music programs get cut, funds aren’t available to hire music educators or students can’t afford their instruments to continue studying. Instead, we continue to invest in the music industry, a multi-billion dollar industry that focuses on putting the best-looking performers on stage to make money, not necessarily the best musicians or the most creative minds.
Don’t get me wrong, the GRAMMYs are a great way to recognize musicians, and they certainly are trying to do their part on focusing on next generation’s musicians, through their Music Educator award and their GRAMMYs in the Schools program. But, perhaps next year we will all take a bit more time to recognize musicians that might not be celebrities but are inspiring and important musicians all the same. Be sure to nominate someone you know for the 2016 GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year (nominations due March 15), watch the pre-show next year and don’t forget to check out the full list of winners (to see who Vieux and Kidjo are) so you don’t miss anyone else!