Fifty music teachers from the Nashville area have each received a $2,000 grant, but an educator from Illinois was on Brett Eldredge’s mind when he appeared at Tuesday night’s (April 26) CMA Music Teacher of Excellence honors ceremony in Nashville.
Judy Carroll, Eldredge’s own childhood music teacher, is a 27-year veteran music educator, having taught voice and choral programs at elementary and middle schools in Paris, Illinois.
The Country Music Association’s $100,000 in teacher grants comes from the CMA Foundation’s $1 million donation to Metro Nashville Public Schools, which brings giving to the school system to $10 million in the past 10 years.
CMA Foundation chairman Joe Galante said teachers are the key to the success of any music program.
“Purchasing instruments has been central to the mission of the Foundation, but rewarding teachers provides the motivation and encouragement necessary to have a dynamic, sustainable music program in Nashville and other cities,” he said.
Eldredge cited the difference music — and his former teacher — made in his life.
“Everyone needs somebody to help guide you along,” he said during the event at City Winery. “Someone that sees the talent in you, that believes. There are so many schools that don’t have music programs, and that is why I’m so passionate about this, because some kids may not have their Judy Carroll or their mentor or the person that helps them along. Kids should never be without the option to have music in their lives.”
Carroll spoke of the importance of music education in the schools.
“As a music educator, I feel very strongly about the importance of quality music education in our schools,” she said. “It’s a necessity. It’s vital to the development of our children cognitively, emotionally and socially.
“The CMA Foundation making these donations to music education in our schools is wonderful. All the hard work and time that you spend, you hope that someone will get the music bug and all your hard work has paid off. It’s very special for me to attend, but especially those 50 teachers that are being honored have to be very proud, and I’m very proud.”