NAfME Member Phillip Riggs of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham was named the recipient of the third annual GRAMMY Music Educator Award™ presented by The Recording Academy® and the GRAMMY Foundation®. Ten music teachers from 10 cities in eight states were selected as finalists for the award. In all, more than 4,500 initial nominations were submitted from each of the 50 states.

band director

Photo courtesy The GRAMMY Foundation®

“We are thrilled that Phillip Riggs has received this deserved recognition,” said Michael A. Butera, Executive Director and CEO of NAfME. “He has orchestrated success in the lives of his band and choral students, as they have testified, which will continue to benefit them as they take music learning with them the rest of their lives. Riggs’s dedication to the cause of music education nationwide is critically important. He is an exemplary member of NAfME, and we applaud him.”

This special award was presented to Riggs at The Recording Academy’s Special Merit Awards Ceremony. It also honored recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY® Award). He was also recognized for his achievements on the GRAMMY telecast on CBS Television.

Riggs’s selection was announced on CBS This Morning on February 10.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) 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.

“With the creation of this award, The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation are shining a spotlight on the positive and lifelong impact that music educators have on their students,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy.

“So many GRAMMY-nominated and GRAMMY-winning artists share with me how a music teacher encouraged them early on, nurtured their talents and helped them realize that a professional career in music was an attainable goal. We are delighted to recognize Mr. Riggs for helping to usher in the next generation of GRAMMY-caliber talent,” he adds.

“My efforts to foster music education in North Carolina stand firmly on the shoulders of numerous students, parents, peers, and administrators in communities that value excellence in music.”

Riggs said, “I am truly honored and humbled. Most of my career has been about opening doors for others and working to enable students and fellow teachers to learn and to grow.”

He adds, “My efforts to foster music education in North Carolina stand firmly on the shoulders of numerous students, parents, peers, and administrators in communities that value excellence in music. Music educators are fortunate to have The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation as steadfast supporters of music in all schools and it is exciting to have the opportunity to share the importance of music education throughout the country.”

Riggs has taught band and choir at various levels in North Carolina for the past 27 years. Currently an instructor of music at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), he is a recipient of the Exceptional Contribution in Outreach Award presented annually by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors for his work with music programs throughout North Carolina. Prior to his tenure at NCSSM, Riggs was the fine arts coordinator at Reagan High School. He became the first faculty member inducted into the Reagan Hall of Fame.

He is a past president of the North Carolina Bandmasters Association. He served as chair of the North Carolina High School All-State Honors Band for eight years, and served as chair of the Northwest District Band Directors Association. During the summers of 2011 and 2012, Riggs served as coordinator of the NAfME National Wind Ensemble at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Riggs also has served North Carolina Music Educators Association as technology chair and founding chair of the NCMEA mentor committee. Riggs is an active clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States and China. His professional affiliations include NCMEA, NAfME, National Band Association, and American School Band Directors Association.

Eight of the ten 2016 GRAMMY Educator finalists are NAfME members.

Nominations for the 2017 GRAMMY Music Educator Awards are now open at The deadline to nominate is March 15, 2016. The deadline to apply is March 30, 2016.

Roz Fehr, February 25, 2016. © National Association for Music Education

April 2024 Teaching Music

Published Date

February 24, 2016


  • NAfME News


February 24, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (

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