West Seneca Central School District is proud to announce that John Blickwedehl is one of 290 quarterfinalists remaining in the running for the 2017 Music Educator Award, presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation.
According to a media alert sent out by the GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy, the award “was established to recognize current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.”
Blickwedehl, who has been teaching in the district for 15 years, teaches band classes and lessons at both West Senior and West Middle and is the director of the district-wide West Seneca Marching Band, which has won the state championship five times.
Outside of the district, he teaches trumpet lessons privately out of his home and is on the staff of the Blue Stars, a world-class drum and bugle corps and Drum Corps International finalist group. He also enjoys being a husband and father, watching his two children dance, play baseball and soccer, and perform in chorus and, of course, band.
Band parents have previously nominated Blickwedehl for the Music Educator Award through an online application, but this is the first year he was selected (of the over 3,300 nominees) to move forward to quarterfinals. Following the nomination, he received an email asking him to fill out a questionnaire and submit three videos to the Grammy Foundation about himself, with testimonials from administrators, students, colleagues and parents.
The list of quarterfinalists was released on Wednesday, May 11, and Blickwedehl was excited to see his name among other teachers he knows and holds in very high regard. One name that stood out to him was Robert W. Smith, a professor at Troy University.
“He is one of the most prolific composers of band literature today,” Blickwedehl said. “We have played dozens of his pieces in our bands and orchestras in West Seneca over the years.”
Blickwedehl, who played in his first school band in third grade, credits the great joy and success he has had in life to music. “Music allows us to express ourselves, but it also moves us to find new levels of dedication and excellence. I want to give that gift back to as many students as I can!”
According to the media release, semifinalists will be announced in September. Fifteen semifinalists will receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants and 10 semifinalists will be named finalists.
Only one finalist will receive the Music Educator Award. The recipient will be flown to the host city of the GRAMMY Awards to be recognized during GRAMMY Week 2017 and attend the 59th annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony as well as GRAMMY Foundation events. The nine remaining finalists receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.
“It would certainly be an honor [to win]. The $10,000 donation to our music program would certainly be helpful as well,” Blickwedehl said.
“I want to congratulate all the students, parents and colleagues that I work with each day – this honor is a reflection on all of them much more than on me,” he continued. “We have been facing many roadblocks in the educational world lately. As long as we continue to ask ourselves ‘What can I do?’ and ‘How can we help our students be great?’ I think we will continue to grow the West Seneca music department into the future!”