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For Immediate Release
Contact: Catherina Hurlburt or (571) 323-3395

National Association for Music Education Member Annie Ray Named 2024 GRAMMY Music Educator AwardTM Honoree

HERNDON, VA (February 5, 2024)—The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) congratulates music educator Annie Ray on being honored with the 2024 Music Educator AwardTM. The honor presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY MuseumTM is well-deserved. Ray is a member of NAfME and the Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA). This is the eleventh year the Music Educator Award has been presented, and now nine of the winners have been members of NAfME: Kent Knappenberger (2014); Jared Cassedy (2015); Phillip Riggs (2016); Keith Hancock (2017); Melissa Salguero (2018); Jeffery Redding (2019); Mickey Smith Jr. (2020); Pamela Dawson (2023); and now Annie Ray (2024).

“On behalf of the NAfME National Executive Board, we offer our sincere CONGRATULATIONS to Annie Ray for being recognized as this year’s GRAMMY Music Educator Award honoree,” said NAfME President Scott R. Sheehan. “This is a testament to the amazing care she pours into her students at Annandale High School and for the support she offers to her colleagues in Fairfax County. Her commitment toward increasing accessibility to music education is to be commended, and we applaud her continued advocacy efforts on behalf of ALL students. Annie Ray is an inspiration to every music educator and is most deserving of this recognition.”

“Annie Ray is an inspiration to every music educator and is most deserving of this recognition.”

Annie Ray is a music educator and orchestra director at Annandale High School in Virginia. She leads the Crescendo Orchestra, which includes a significant number of special education students with developmental or intellectual disabilities. “She tailors her teaching methods to meet the unique needs of these students, including using techniques like color-coded strings and cardboard instruments,” reports “CBS This Morning” in their interview with Ray.

“You have to be very loud and bold and be willing to make bad sounds before you learn how to make good sounds,” Ray shared. “So in my classroom, they learn confidence because they just have to shed their inhibitions, and just go for it.” One of her students, Matt, added, “I would say that also applies to any other category of life. You have to start out bad and you have to be working at it in order for it to improve.”

2024 GRAMMY Music Educator Award winner Annie Ray

NAfME congratulates Annie Ray on this distinguished recognition. In addition to the Crescendo Orchestra (which prompted TEDx to have her deliver a talk in April 2022, The Sound of Success), GRAMMY Museum noted in its announcement that “Ray is an advocate for providing universal access to quality music education and is known for founding and developing creative opportunities to make music accessible to students of all demographics. Her creation of the FCPS Parent Orchestra allows just under 200 caregivers annually to learn to play their child’s instrument each year.” She is an outstanding member, and NAfME applauds her contributions to ensuring music education is available to all students.

Annie Ray was acknowledged on the GRAMMY Award broadcast Sunday, February 4, 2024.

The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Museum launched the Music Educator Award to bring attention to the excellent and impactful work being done by thousands of music teachers across the United States. This award recognizes 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 our schools.

In this eleventh year of the award, six of the 10 finalists for the 2024 Music Educator Award are members of NAfME. All of these teachers’ positive impact on their students’ lives and tireless advocacy for music education are invaluable. Nominations for the 2025 Music Educator Award are being accepted through March 15, and teacher applications need to be completed by March 31:


The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is a collaborative community that supports music educators and advocates for equitable access to music education. The only association that addresses all aspects of music education, NAfME, together with its affiliated state music education associations, advocates at the national, state, and local levels and provides resources and opportunities for teachers, students, parents, and administrators. Founded in 1907 and representing more than 57,000 members teaching millions of students, NAfME advances the music education profession and promotes lifelong experiences in music.

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