Loyalsock Township, Pa. – A local educator is now a semi-finalist in the Grammy’s national search for an outstanding and impactful music teacher, supporter and innovator.
From more than 1,205 nominations from 47 states, Loyalsock Township School District’s Ryan Bulgarelli was selected as a semifinalist — only one of 25 nationwide and the only educator in Pennsylvania — for the Grammy’s 2023 Music Educator Award.
Ryan Bulgarelli doesn’t even know who nominated him.
“I’m incredibly grateful,” Bulgarelli said. “It’s definitely humbling. There really is an incredible amount of teaching and music making in the larger Williamsport community and in Pennsylvania,” he added.
The Music Educator Award recognizes current educators who have made “significant and enduring contributions to the field of music education and are committed to the broader cause of sustaining music education in schools,” according to the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum.
“For every artist who made it onto the Grammy stage, there was a teacher who played a critical role in getting them there.” These critical teachers are the ones who compete for the award, who do so during Grammy Week will be announced in February.
The Loyalsock Township School District hired Bulgarelli in 2013 as a sophomore from Penn State University. While at Penn State, he attended Schreyer Honors College and played in the prestigious Blue Band for four years.
Now in his 13th year at LTSD, Bulgarelli teaches instrumental music, guitar and music technology. He serves as the district’s visual arts coordinator and rehearses the Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Lancer Marching Band, and Jazz Band. He is also President of District 8 of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association
Under his leadership, the Loyalsock Township bands have won multiple Cavalcade of Bands marching championships and have performed at both the United States Capitol in Washington, DC and the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg.
Related Reading: The Loyalsock Township Lancer Marching Band wraps up the season with the Cavalcade Championship
To go through the recent award selection process, Bulgarelli had to record and submit an instructional video and profile of the school and community where he teaches. Getting his students involved, he said, is a rewarding part of the process.
Bulgarelli partially credits his success as a music teacher to the administration supporting music education.
“It’s difficult for music educators to ensure that music is accessible to all students,” Bulgarelli said, but with an administration that values music and sees its purpose, “at Loyalsock, anyone who wants to join an ensemble can do so.”
Students who play instruments and participate in their school’s music departments are known to be strong academic students overall.
According to Loyalsock Township Middle School teacher David Tini, students at Loyalsock Township Middle School are three times more likely to be voted Student of the Month and two times more likely to receive an award or honor roll.
“Specifically, middle school ensemble students have, on average, a 5.56% higher GPA and miss 2.63 fewer days of school per year. At the high school level, students enrolled in ensembles have, on average, a 5.67% higher GPA than their peers and miss 2.1 fewer days of school per year,” he said.
Not only do music programs make better students, Bulgarelli said, “We make the best people.”
“These students are leaders, they are team players, they are compassionate and empathetic,” Bulgarelli said.
“When you play an instrument, you share a part of yourself. But working in a team also creates a bond and connection that you don’t experience any other way.”
The music teacher prize
Each year, one awardee is selected from 10 finalists and recognized for their remarkable impact on student life. They receive an honorarium of US$10,000 and a matching stipend for their school’s music program. The nine additional finalists will receive honoraria and matching stipends of US$1,000. The remaining 15 semi-finalists will receive honoraria of US$500 with matching school scholarships.
The winner will be flown to Los Angeles to attend the Grammy Awards and accept the Music Educator Award at a ceremony during Grammy Week.
School grants are made possible through the Grammy Museum’s Education Champion Ford Motor Company Fund. In addition, the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, the NAMM Foundation, and the National Education Association provide outreach support to this program.
The finalists will be announced in December.