“What More Could You Ask For?”:
Music Educator Award™ Finalist Curtis Gaesser
The GRAMMY Museum Foundation and the Recording Academy have chosen 10 finalists for the 2018 Music Educator Award. Eight of the finalists are NAfME members as was last year’s winner, Keith Hancock of Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. Teachers are encouraged to apply for the 2019 award by March 31 by visiting GRAMMYMusicTeacher.com. Participating in the application process makes you part of our overall music education advocacy movement so teachers, apply this and every year.
Curtis Gaesser has been teaching in the Folsom/Cordova School District in Folsom, California, for 36 years. He currently teaches Marching Band, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Choir, three Jazz Bands, Concert Band, Color Guard, and Drumline at Folsom High School. He has been named as one of the 10 finalists for the 2018 award.
“I tell all my students that teaching is the best job one can have. You actually get paid to produce music and get paid to watch students excel and achieve through hard work. What more can one ask for?”
Q: What inspired you to become a music teacher?
I always loved working with kids. And the chance to use my musical skills to help students achieve something and to excel is a dream job come true.
Q: What goals do you establish for the music program at your school?
Well, my only goal is to make each performing group perform at their potential—which, of course, very rarely happens. I have high regard for all my students, and I don’t think there is anything these kids can’t achieve if I give them the means and the path to achieve. So, in that sense, I am responsible for creating the landscape and environment for these students to reach our objectives in being at the height of our potentials.
Q: What role do you believe your NAfME membership has had in the professional development aspects of your career?
All of the NAfME newsletters, convention partnerships, and the resources from NAfME have contributed so much to my career which started in 1984. Thank you for so much information and help I desperately need each day!
Q: What would you say to students interested in studying music education?
I tell all my students that teaching is the best job one can have. You actually get paid to produce music and get paid to watch students excel and achieve through hard work. What more can one ask for?
Q: What role do you believe music education plays in the overall learning experience of students?
I use all my performing groups as a tool to teach kids how to collaborate, how to achieve with people you may not be friends with or care for—this is life. You will be working in the future in your career with difficult people; the music classes allow for success within students and all of our quirks. Sometimes I need to intervene, but 9 out of 10 times they figure it out as a group. Group needs first; individual needs second.