Big Band Director is Quarterfinalist for Grammy

Michael Agidius Was Nominated for Music Educator Award

By: Camlynne Waring

Michael Agidius, a music teacher for the Milton-Freewater School District and the director of Walla Walla University’s Big Band, has been selected as one of 217 quarterfinalists for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation. More than 30,000 nominations were submitted.

“One of my high school students nominated me for the award and I filled out the application just to honor his effort,” says Agidius. According to the GRAMMY Foundation, the award was established last year “to recognize current educators (kindergarten – 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.” 

“My main goal in music education is to teach music as art and musicianship as a skill that people can enjoy their entire life to make their life better,” says Agidius.

Agidius has taught in the Milton-Freewater School District for more than 25 years. Agidius’s Central Middle School Jazz band and McLoughlin High School Jazz Ensemble have been recognized throughout the Northwest, having won prestigious jazz festivals at the University of Idaho, University of Nevada/Reno, Willamette University, Columbia Basin College, University of Portland and others. The McLoughlin High School Jazz Ensemble has also been invited twice to perform at the Oregon Music Educators Association State Convention in 2005 and 2001.

Agidius has also directed the Big Band at WWU for seven years. “Mike has done a fabulous job of building the Big Band to a high performance level, despite not knowing from year to year which students he'll have in the group,” says Karin Thompson, chair of the Music Department at WWU. “In my experience, Mike holds high standards of performance, and he is able to achieve excellent results through calm encouragement and persistence regardless of who he might be working with.”

Agidius credits his music teachers with inspiring him to work in music education. Working in local music stores throughout high school and college also encouraged him to pursue music education. “I was able to get to know many band directors and also learned how to repair band instruments,” he says.

Agidius, who studied music education at Willamette University, has been performing since childhood, starting with singing solos with a children’s church choir at the age of four.

A talented saxophone soloist, Agidius has performed with the Walla Walla Symphony, Walla Walla University Steel Band, Walla Walla Community Band, Power Swing Big Band, Whitman College Jazz Ensemble, Blue Mountain Community College Jazz Ensemble and others.  Additionally, he has been a member of the group Power Swing and John L. Holmes’ band Los Amigos on his “Holmes Stretch” album featuring Latin Jazz infused compositions.

“Mike is a talented teacher and musician,” says Thompson. “His skills are verified by the successes he has achieved at all levels of education in our valley—from elementary school through college. Mike's selection as a quarter finalist for the first-ever Grammy Music Educator Award is a well-deserved honor.”

For the next phase of the competition, Agidius wrote two essays and submitted a video of himself teaching a lesson.  He will find out if he made it to the next round in August.


About the Grammy Foundation’s Music Educator Award Program

A joint partnership and presentation of The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation, this special award will have its inaugural presentation at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and Nominees Reception honoring recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award during GRAMMY Week 2014.

One recipient will be selected from 10 finalists and will be recognized for his/her remarkable impact on students' lives. 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 will receive matching grants. The honorariums and grants provided to the finalists and schools are made possible by the generosity and support of the GRAMMY Foundation's Education Champions Converse, Ford Motor Company Fund, General Mills Box Tops For Education, and Journeys.


Published July 17, 2013.

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