By Rachel Treisman, NPR | Grammy Awards don’t only go to the people who produce and perform songs. For just over a decade, they’ve also been given out to those who teach others how to make music. The Music Educator Award, presented by the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum, recognizes those who have made a “significant contribution and demonstrate a commitment to music education.”

This year it went to Annie Ray, the performing arts department chair and orchestra director at Annandale High School in Fairfax County, Virginia. She was honored for her efforts to make music accessible to all students, particularly those with disabilities.

Ray got to attend the awards ceremony in Los Angeles, take selfies with pop stars and bring home both a $10,000 prize and matching grant for her school’s music program. But speaking with NPR’s Morning Edition, she said she doesn’t consider the award to be hers at all.

“This is the students’ award,” she said. “I’m just lucky enough to have been a part of their journey and their process and to have been taught by them.”

Her orchestra teaches students more than just music

Ray created the Crescendo Orchestra for students with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as a parent orchestra that teaches nearly 200 caregivers a year to play the same instrument as their child.

She was inspired in large part by the diversity of the Annandale community, which she says represents over 60 countries, including many refugees and immigrants.
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Video interview:
The broadcast interview was produced by Milton Guevara and Paige Waterhouse, and edited by Alice Woelfle.

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