Samuel Tsugawa Biography

Western - Tsugawa Head Shot

A native of Hawaii, Samuel Tsugawa has served as Director of Orchestras at Springville Senior and Junior High Schools, Nebo School District (Utah) since 1988. He holds bachelor and master of music education degrees from Brigham Young University and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in music education from Arizona State University. Ensembles under Dr. Tsugawa’s baton have a reputation as outstanding performance groups consistently earning superior ratings at local, state, regional, and national music festivals and competitions. Recognized by his colleagues as an accomplished classroom teacher, Dr. Tsugawa has received state teacher of the year by the honors twice from the Utah American String Teachers Association (1996 & 2011), the Utah Music Educators Association’s Superior Accomplishment Award (2006) and Outstanding High Music Educator Award (2011), Phi Delta Kappa’s 2006 Utah WalMart Teacher of the Year, and the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Legacy Award for Excellence in Arts Education (2013). Also recognized as an able researcher, Dr. Tsugawa has a growing number of publications, and has presented papers at national and international research conferences.  Dr. Tsugawa’s has served on the UMEA Executive Board for eight years as Orchestra Vice-President (1999-2003), President-elect (2011-2013), President (2013-2015) and currently serves as its Immediate Past-President.


In 2000, music education leaders gathered to envision what music education will look like in 2020.  In 2000, attendees of the Vision 2020 conference could not have seen the many changes that have affected our profession since 2000 such as the advent of social media, changes in societal norms and definitions, and the increased politicization of education.  NAfME candidates vying for leadership positions will take office on the threshold of a new era affected by the whirlwind changes of the last 16 years.


“I believe, as did the Vision 2020 participants, the primary concern for the future of music education is the struggle to remain a relevant, viable, and vibrant part of American life.  As Western Division President, I hope to begin a lively dialogue resulting in answers to two important questions:  “How have societal changes, current educational reform, and political demands marginalized music programs in each region of the country?”  “How should the profession respond to the these changes that have affected our music education and music making?”  


During the last few years, NAfME has provided effective leadership responding to recent challenges.  Initiatives such as the development of National Core Arts Standards will provide teachers a foundational framework for teachers to articulate the value of our craft and continue remain relevant.  I believe that NAfME’s primary challenge will be to reach out to a greater percentage of our profession.  The challenges that will face us as we approach the next decade will require a larger unified network of music educators articulating the value of music and music making in the lives of all Americans.   


NAfME should continue with its efforts for membership sustainability, inviting all in the profession to be a vital participant to solve the challenges that will face us in the next decade.  Music educators, especially our early career educators, should feel at home and connected with NAfME and their respective state associations.  No one should feel that they are alone to deal with the challenges in and out of their classrooms. 


The Western Division is unique in that all of our states, including Hawaii, are wide and diverse.  As Western Division President, I plan on increased networking among and within each state.  I envision the Western Division Board, with the help of NAfME, connecting leaders and members within and between the boarders of all five states in the division.  NAfME national and division leaders should take advantage of the technology available to help connect states, districts, and individual music educators.  If music education is to remain relevant and viable, individual educators need to feel a part of a relevant and vibrant network of professionals.”