Written by Eric Goodman
Anthony “Tony” Mazzocchi, Interim Associate Director of the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, is among 25 semifinalists for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.
Mazzocch, of Maplewood, was a band director in Brooklyn from 2001 to 2010 before teaching in the South Orange and Maplewood School District. He also taught as a trombone teacher at Montclair State University for seven years before becoming the Associate Director.
In total, more than 30,000 initial nominations were submitted from all 50 states. That number was whittled down to just 25 from 24 cities across 15 states.
Mazzocchi and Andrew DeNicola, of John P. Stevens High School in Metuchen, are the only two semifinalists from New Jersey.
“It's pretty surprising,” said Mazzocchi. “I do know some of the other people on the list and I'm in incredible company with people I consider legends in the music industry.”
According to the organization, “The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, 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.”
The award was open to current United States music teachers, and anyone could nominate a teacher — students, parents, friends, colleagues, community members, school deans and administrators. Teachers were also able to nominate themselves, and nominated teachers were notified and invited to fill out an application.
“I don't know who nominated me, but I think it was one of my students from when I taught music in Brooklyn,” said Mazzocchi. “They emailed me and said I was nominated by a student. I didn't think much of it at the time so I sent in videos of me teaching and answering questions.”
He then found out he was among the 25 semifinalists.
One recipient will be selected from 10 finalists and will be recognized for his or her impact on students' lives. The 10 finalists will be announced in December.
The winner will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the Grammy Awards ceremony, and receive a $10,000 honorarium.
The nine finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also will receive matching grants. The honorariums and grants provided to the finalists and schools are from the Grammy Foundation's Education Champions Converse, Ford Motor Company Fund, Box Tops For Education, and Journeys with additional support from Universal Music Group.
“I'm really glad that the GRAMMY foundation is recognizing educators, specifically music educators,” said Mazzocchi. “The award doesn't mean that you are better than anyone else but it's nice to be recognized.”
If he wins, said he would put the money towards scholarships at his schools in Montclair, Maplewood and Brooklyn.