NAfME Member Kent Knappenberger Wins National Recognition From Music Industry

The recipient of the inaugural GRAMMY Music Educator Award is New York music educator and NAfME member Kent Knappenberger. The announcement was made on CBS This Morning which featured a video segment on Knappenberger.

Knappenberger has been a music teacher and choir director at Westfield Academy and Central School for 25 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia and a master’s degree in music education, harp performance and literature from Eastman School of Music,

He was one of an original pool of more than 30,000 music teachers from throughout the United States who had been nominated.

He was chosen from a group of 10 finalists, all of whom are or have been members of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Knappenberger is a 20-year member of NAfME.

NAfME has supported the Music Educator Award process throughout 2013 with advocacy resources, and NAfME President Nancy E. Ditmer served on the award’s Blue Ribbon Selection Committee.  Ditmer said, “Kent epitomizes the passion for music and love of teaching that characterize thousands of music educators who make a difference in the lives of the children and youth of our country every day.  His genuine love for what he does, and the mutual respect and admiration between him and his students, are evident in his teaching.  On behalf of NAfME, I offer my congratulations and thanks for the fine way in which Kent represents all of the good that music educators are accomplishing every day.”

During the 2013 GRAMMY telecast, President/CEO of The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Foundation President/CEO Neil Portnow, “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest, and musician Justin Timberlake announced the creation of the GRAMMY Music Educator Award. Timberlake called music teachers the “unsung heroes of our creative community.”

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, at 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.”

On CBS This Morning, Knappenberger said he cried when he got the news of his selection, adding, “The people I teach and what I do are very important to me. I know there is a country filled with very talented educators. As much as I have learned about other finalists, I am so glad to be a part of something they do.” 

One of “Mr. K’s” students said he “nourishes everything you care about in yourself. I actually learned that I have this gift that I could use to help people.”

Knappenberger will receive his award on Saturday, January 25 during the Special Merit Awards Ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles.

His family will attend as well. He and his wife have adopted eight of their nine children from Brazil, most of whom are involved in music in some way. Knappenberger has served as a volunteer music teacher at the Ana Gonzaga Methodist Institute in Rio de Janeiro. 

He receives a $10,000 honorarium. The nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

At the Special Merit Awards Ceremony, The Recording Academy will also present the Lifetime Achievement Award to the Beatles, Clifton Chenier, the Isley Brothers, Kraftwerk, Kris Kristofferson, Armando Manzanero, and Maud Powell.

A formal acknowledgment of all Special Merit recipients will be made during the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards® telecast, which will be held at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. It will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.

Nominations are open for next year’s GRAMMY Music Educator and close on March 31. 

 Roz Fehr, NAfME managing editor for news, January 21. 2014. © National Association for Music Education (