Road to the Grammys; Folsom’s Gaesser is top 10 finalist

By: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
-A +A

Back in October, the Folsom Telegraph reported that Folsom High School music instructor Curtis Gaesser was just one of 25 semi-finalists for the 2018 Grammy Foundation National Music Educator Award. Last week, the 10 finalists, out of the 2,300 applicants, were announced and Gaesser is among them.

“I’m honored, humbled, and think it’s weird being recognized for what my students have accomplished all these years,” Gaesser said. I give the credit to all these amazing students and to God for giving me the opportunity to do what I love and get paid for it.”

In January, just one recipient will be selected from the 10 finalists and recognized for their impact on students' lives. The winner will be flown to New York to attend the 60th annual Grammy Awards and a range of Grammy week events. Nine of the finalists will receive a grant of $1,000, while the winner and the school will each receive $10,000 for further promotion of music education.

“As a parent of two kids whose lives have been changed by this program, I think it’s more than fitting that the Grammy Foundation recognizes Mr. Gaesser as one of the top music educators in our country,” said Jon Augustine, of the Folsom Music Boosters. 

Augustine went on to credit Gaesser for much of the success and growth of Folsom’s strong music program throughout the years. While Gaesser humbly credits his students, Augustine argues that his leadership has been a driving force, not only in the way of fostering talent, but insuring the program has plenty of interest and funding from community exposure.

“Many schools are struggling to sustain their budgets in support of the arts. If you’re lucky enough to live in Folsom, you’ll find an administration and parent volunteer-base that works exceptionally hard to continue the tradition of musical excellence Curtis has built,” Augustine said. “Whether he’s given the final award or not, the Grammys have already named him, suitably, as one of our nation’s best. 

Music has been a life-long love for Gaesser, now in his 34th year of teaching. The journey to the Grammy Foundation National Music Educator Awards began more than a year ago when he was urged by those around him to throw his hat in the ring for the annual nominations process.

“If it wasn’t for a lot of extremely talented kids, I wouldn’t have been nominated. This is an honor for me, but even more so for our area as a whole getting this recognition,” Gaesser said. “ It’s not just me teaching these kids, it’s their talent, and it’s all the teachers and parents who helped them find their way in music.”

The Music Educator Award is presented by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Museum. The award was established to recognize educators from kindergarten through college 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.