North Central Division 2020–2022 President-Elect Richard Tengowski


Richard Tengowski

2020–2022 North Central Division President-Elect 



Richard Tengowski is in his thirty-third year as a music teacher for the School District of Kohler in Kohler, Wisconsin. He received his B.M. in Music Education from St. Norbert College and his M.M. from Northwestern University. He teaches middle and high school concert bands, jazz ensemble, pep band, drumline, and secondary general music. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor in Music at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan teaching applied clarinet and saxophone.

Mr. Tengowski has taken leadership roles in the field of music education. He is the Past-President of the Wisconsin Music Educators Association, Past-President of the Wisconsin Association of Music Supervisors, Coordinators, and Department Chairpersons, and a member of the Wisconsin Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance Project.

Currently, he is on the leadership team developing state music standards for Wisconsin on behalf of the Wisconsin Music Educators Association.

His work has been published in Shaping Sound Musicians and MENC publications entitled Performance Standards for Music, Strategies for Teaching Beginning and Intermediate Band, and Strategies for Teaching High School Band. He has also served on the National Association for Music Education Music Educators Journal Editorial Committee.

Mr. Tengowski is a Herb Kohl Educational Fellowship Award Recipient, a School District of Kohler Teacher of the Year, and was recently inducted into the Wisconsin Bandmaster Association. Mr. Tengowski is an active clinician, conductor, master adjudicator, speaker, and freelance performer. He has addressed numerous state, regional, and national education groups including the NAfME national conference. He is a member of NAfME, WMEA, AFM, and an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

He is married to wife Beth Ellen and has four sons, Ryan, John, Benjamin, and Gregory—all musicians.


What do you see as the major challenges facing music education during your term as president?

The world of education is slow to change and changing old paradigms and ways of thinking needs constant attention and persistence in order for change to happen. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ensures that every child is entitled to a well-rounded education, and we know that NAfME needs to be the leading voice for music education in order to see this come to fruition in all states. We must work with educational systems to break down barriers that limit or inhibit opportunities in music education. Without leadership promoting new support systems, change may not happen. With the inception of the national standards, now is the time to communicate and educate teachers, administrators, and policy makers about the importance of a standards-based education that promotes student understanding, independence, and music literacy.


What do you see as the major challenges facing NAfME?

We need to do a better job of recognizing, embracing, and celebrating diversity in today’s society. All students are entitled to a quality music education, and communities and schools need to create classrooms that are inclusive and accommodating for learners of a variety of backgrounds. Music teachers are on the battle grounds of a complex society, and our organization needs to prepare teachers to best serve our complex society. While this is a challenge, I also view this as an opportunity to move the world of music education forward.

Music education has taken a backseat to the era of testing for too many years. Some schools have ignored the benefits of music education and have directed resources, support, and classroom time away from music education. There is much work to be done in the area of advocacy. Our organization must do an even better job of communicating the benefits of a music education as part of a balanced and well-rounded education taught by qualified and certified educators to the various stakeholders in our schools, communities, and policy makers.


How should our Association respond to these challenges?

NAfME needs to continue to serve its membership and provide them with the necessary resources in order for all music teachers to teach efficiently and effectively. We need to continue to provide new professional development opportunities for all music educators. I would encourage NAfME to provide new cutting-edge professional development opportunities that reach out to its membership and provide resources and teacher education opportunities that address current trends and needs. Investing in our music teachers is not only necessary, it will greatly improve music education for today’s and tomorrow’s students.