The man behind the strings
Behind each field show, each student who practices scales relentlessly and each recital proudly stands Dr. Buddy Clements, who has poured hours upon hours of commitment toward the music program. After 31 years of teaching music and learning from his students, Dr. Buddy Clements has been named a Grammy Music Educator Semifinalist for the 2015 Grammy Music Educator Award. Out of 7,000 nominees across the nation, 25 educators have been chosen as semifinalists to have the chance to win $6,000.
“[To be a semi-finalist is] a big honor. We try to be creative about our teaching approach and reach a broad spectrum of music. I get to be involved in music almost every day of my life and you’d think I’d get sick of it, but I just don’t because there’s so many different kinds of music and ways of being expressive,” Clements said.
Clements took over the program 31 years ago. Thirteen years later, Corey Wicks joined him in cultivating one of the largest music programs in the district. Through years of support and collective effort from several different people who believe in the music program, it continues to grow with over 200 members.
“I think we have a pretty exceptional music program and over 31 years, it’s gotten remarkably better. The principals, district, and community have been very supportive of music. My students motivate me to want to give more and my colleagues are so supportive. It makes me want to do better and be more like them,” Clements said.
His start as a music teacher wasn’t pleasant. But after taking several years off from teaching and earning his master’s degree in performance, Clements attended a band camp that inspired him to give teaching another try. His teaching career soon developed into a passion-driven expedition after a few opportunities were given to him.
“I think it’s worked out really well for me because it’s exactly what I should be doing. [Mr. Wicks and I] want as many kids to be involved in music as possible because it’s really more about trying to share the joy of music and how music can change peoples’ lives or touch their souls. It’s just a great thing to be involved in for your whole life,” Clements said.
His drive and passion for teaching comes from his students, who have been a major source of inspiration for Clements.
“The music program is unique in that you get a kid that is a dinky, squirrely freshman that is barely tootin’ a horn and then you just see them grow and mature. That’s such an amazing transition. It’s the greatest thing to be a part of that but it’s the hardest thing because then they leave. That’s the way it is, I know that, but it’s tough because you love these students.”
Overall, Clements sees music as a life-changing source of empowerment and perspective for his students.
“I want them to see how important music is in the world. Music builds bridges. There are people who can’t understand each other but the one thing we can all understand is music. It’s the arts that help tear down walls that people build. That’s a big thing for students to learn—about how powerful music can be. I want them to know how special [it is to] perform. They all have talent. It may be in different levels but they all have a gift that they can share with other people,” Clements said.
By Belle Sun, Manager