Winners for the Fall 2018 Music Education Innovator Award are posted below.

Give A Note Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of the Fall 2018 Music Education Innovator AwardThese educators presented programs that use innovative and sustainable strategies in non-traditional or traditional primary and secondary music courses to attract students not typically enrolled in music education programs, in efforts to increase access to music education through diversity in curriculum and approach. Thank you to founding sponsor, the CMA (Country Music Association) Foundation.

The Fall 2018 Music Education Innovator Award recipients are:

  • Anna Harris, Oakland Terrace Elementary School, Silver Spring MD: “Ethiopian Song Project” – There are currently no Ethiopian music resources available to music teachers, and I teach in a county that has the largest Ethiopian-American population in the United States. My Ethiopian students are excited to share what they know about their own culture and to be making music that is familiar to them. In addition, my students who are not Ethiopian are excited to do these songs because they represent their classmates and friends.”
  • Bradley Collins, Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School, Chula Vista CA: “The Music Technology Program” – “Learning the basic music theory skills required to understand musical patterns, melodies, chords, and digital arrangements of audio tracks can help students stay interested in music as a lifelong learner. This type of music class promotes music to several different learning modalities, not just the eager performers…The LARGE majority of job opportunities in the music field available to these students someday are NOT professional music performance positions. They are in areas like recording, sound system design, producing, stage management, DJ’ing, advertising, teaching, composing [and]acoustical technicians.”
  • Michelle Lewis, Bloom Elementary School, Louisville, KY: “Project Based Learning in Music” – “Students learn about real world problems and use music as the avenue to advocate for those in need. For example, [my] 2nd graders made a music video public service announcement for clean water, 5th graders developed a podcast where they teach mini music lessons to those around the world who don’t have a music teacher [and] 1st graders create music that advocates for animals…trying to escape forest fires.”
  • Sarah Minette, Minneapolis South High School, Minneapolis MN: “Empowering Student Creativity through Piano, Guitar and Sound Production” – “The majority of the students with whom I work are immigrants and refugees who are not native-English speakers. Many of them have not played instruments before or have had the opportunity to experience music making in school. [As] newcomers in our country, they attempt to navigate the complexities of a new language, being a teenager, [all while] maintaining a sense of their culture. Through music, we are able to bridge these many gaps. By experimenting with different styles of music, through collaborative and individual opportunities, students begin to see themselves as not only musical, but creative beings.”
  • Vivian Gonzalez, Miami Arts Studio 6-12 at Zelda Glazer, Miami FL: “MAS Orchestra Outreach” – “MAS Orchestra was created to give string instrument education access to an entire segment of the Miami-Dade County Community that had no access to string instrument education…nearly 97% of our students coming from Latino homes. I strategically use music of [my students’] cultures to strengthen their interest in participation in orchestra. My students want to make sure that they give back to their communities and that they are part of providing access to string instrument education…[so we are] starting MAS Orchestra Mentors, where our school will be open on Saturdays to have my students, with my guidance and supervision, teach elementary school students in our feeder pattern.”

One music educator from each grant recipient school will be honored at the 2019 CMA Music Teachers of Excellence Dinner in Nashville, TN, on April 30, 2019, and will present on their school’s program to attendees at the 2019 NAfME National Conference in Florida on November 7-10, 2019 (all-expense paid).

Read the press release here.

The Spring 2018 Music Education Innovator Award recipients are:

  • Ethan Chessin, Camas High School, Camas, Washington: “The Business of Music.”
  • Ginny Coleman, Tuscaloosa County High School, Northport, Alabama: “All Together Now: Including Children with Severe Disabilities in Choir.”
  • Brian Gallagher, Ramona High School, Riverside, California: “Mariachi de la dinastía Ramona.”
  • Chris Gemkow, York Community High School, Elmhurst, Illinois: “Music Production Program and the York Album Project.”
  • Warren Mize, East Central High School, San Antonio, Texas: “Music Business and Industries Two-Year Course.”

Read more about each of these music programs.


As stated above, the purpose of this funding cycle is to identify school music programs led by creative music educators utilizing innovative and sustainable strategies in non-traditional or traditional secondary music courses that attract students not typically enrolled in music education courses, in efforts to increase access to music education through diversity in curriculum and approach. Awards will be granted to schools with programs that have significant potential for utilizing $4,000 grants to build upon programmatic successes to date, in efforts to create lasting change in a school or district.

  • “Innovative,” in this context, means reflecting an instructional and/or organizational approach to music instruction that is new for the school system in which the program is to be instituted. That is, a program could be considered innovative if it takes lessons learned from a different school or school district and applies that idea in a new context – for example, the context of an urban as opposed to suburban district, to a different grade level, or to a set of students not formerly served by the approach.
  • “Sustainable,” in this case, means reflecting a high likelihood that the applicant will be able to use the support offered to put in place an innovative program that survives the grant period, thus bringing lasting change to the school and to the student population served.

For questions regarding the Music Education Innovator Award, please contact Juliana Lee at info AT giveanote DOT org.