Leslieann Grant was one of 50 recipients from across the nation

Leslieann Grant, a music teacher at Brandywine Springs School, was one of 50 music educators from across the nation to receive the 2013 Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award.

Every two years, the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award is presented to music educators who are selected for their outstanding accomplishments teaching music in the nation's public schools.

Grant recently took some time to speak with the Hockessin Community News about receiving the hinor and sharing her love of music with her students.

Q. How did you feel when you heard you were selected to receive the 2013 Yale Distinguished Music Educator award?

A. When I heard that I was being considered to receive the 2013 Yale Distinguished Music Educator award, I was humbled and surprised. It is always a wonderful gift to be recognized for one's work, and (in my case) that work involves passing on a great passion in my life. However, to know that people understand that work and its impact on student learning is even more rewarding. I am gratified that my students have found a path (through me) to take the music we have enjoyed together with them into their later lives. Clearly, they have demonstrated a continuing devotion to the arts, and music in particular, for my nomination to have occurred. There was also a process whereby nominees prepared personal statements for a panel of music professionals to review. The panel then determined which fifty educators across the country received this great honor.

Q. When did you first become interested in music?

A. I do not remember a time in my life that I was not interested in music. My mother played the piano beautifully and my father had been a professional singer earlier in his life. I remember as a young child literally sitting under our grand piano in our family's living room and loving the sound of the piano so much. By 12 years old I was practicing 4 ½ hours a day, getting up long before school (like an ice skating "hopeful") to make sure I got at least 1 ½ hours of practice in before my day began. I continued pursuing my love for music singing in church and in every chorus, musical, and concert I possibly could. My sisters and I frequently sang together, and our family always harmonized songs on trips.

As for teaching, I would credit my mother with that decision. While my Masters in Music was in Vocal Performance, my mother was an exceptional model within the teaching field. In the different professions I worked after graduating, each situation inevitably brought me back to teaching within that arena, and so, I decided that combining my obvious talent for it and my great love of music was a good fit.

3. Why do you think it is important for students to participate in music programs/classes?

A. Why music? This is quite an important question and it cannot be answered quickly.

•Music teaches all of us relationships: sound relationships; curricular relationships; human relationships.

•Music has the ability to increase student positive learning dispositions which they utilize throughout their lives.

•Music recognizes and accepts each child exactly where they are and (at the very least) raises them up, increasing their feelings of self-worth within their own culture, while helping them to understand the culture of others.

•Music impacts student learning beyond the music classroom, teaching children necessary, transferable skills such as critical hearing or critical thinking.

•Of all the subjects that students experience in school, none require as high a competency as music performance, which cannot be less than 94% accurate without losing its necessary cohesiveness to be appreciated as a piece of music by an audience

•The diversity of music reflects the diversity of my students – and that is something we can all celebrate.

4. If you were not a music educator, what would you be doing?

A. I can't imagine not being a music educator. At the age of 57, I am still learning how to do it right. But, I suppose if my life had been different, it would have included being a hockey, lacrosse, track or tennis coach. I loved sports almost as passionately as I did music.