Eric Songer, a music teacher at Chaska Middle School West in Chaska, recently received the Give A Note Music Educator Innovator Award.
The award included a $4,000 grant for CMSW to build up its “Next Generation of Music Education” program.
“I was pretty excited, mainly because I’ve become so interested in offering different things for music education that are outside of the traditional box,” Songer said.
In the program, teachers go beyond teaching students band, choir and orchestra, Songer said, and also focus on songwriting, improvisation, popular music styles, technology and production.
As part of the honor, Songer traveled to Nashville, Tennessee in April, where he networked with other music educators, who were spearheading similar initiatives.
“The coolest part was connecting with other teachers who got this grant. I learned so much just talking to teachers,” he said.
The banquet where Songer, and the other three finalists, received the award was run through the Country Music Association and hosted by country music star Dierks Bentley, who also performed a song with elementary school students.
As part of the award, Songer will be traveling to Orlando, Florida in November for a presentation at the National Music Education Conference.
The $4,000 grant will be used for purchasing music software and instruments, to continue to promote various forms of songwriting, ranging from hip hop and classical, to movie and video game soundtracks.
“I try to give kids an opportunity to reach out into areas of music they have passion for and give them more information of how music is made today that’s a little more relevant for them,” Songer said.
Give A Note was founded in 2011 in partnership with the National Association for Music Education, according to its website at www.giveanote.org. The Country Music Association is a founding sponsor of the innovator award.