A quarterfinalist for award, James Compton to learn in August if he's a semifiinalist

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - James Compton stands in front of the third-grade students who were featured in the class footage he submitted to support his Grammy nomination.Families at Sunset Primary School have long recognized James Compton as a star of their music world. So when the Grammy Foundation also recognized Compton as an outstanding music educator, they were thrilled on his behalf.

A music specialist teaching at Sunset and Bolton primary schools, Compton was among a total of 217 music educators from 45 states named as quarterfinalists for the inaugural Music Educator Award.

Established to recognize outstanding music educators in primary schools through college, the award will be presented by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. Compton and his fellow quarterfinalists were winnowed from a field of 30,000 nominations nationwide.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - James Compton demonstrates the honking noise that beginning clarinet students often make.“It is fantastic this recognition has come to (Compton),” said Sunset Principal Lisa Hawking. “Two separate parents nominated him. I know he would have had even more nominations had more known the award was out there.”

Following the awards show in February, Compton received an email message from the Grammy Association telling him that he had been nominated by a Sunset parent for the award.

“The next day, I got another email,” he said. “I’d been nominated by a parent at Bolton.”

Following his nomination, Compton was invited to follow up by filling out an application. As part of the application, Compton submitted four minutes of unedited footage that showed him teaching a class of third-graders.

“I picked what I thought represented me the best,” Compton said.

“The award was established to recognize current educators who ... demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in schools,” said Hawking. “That’s James! I wish you could see our kindergartners working together like a team singing, ‘Hip-Hop Bunny.’ Or I picture children having been supported to have the courage to sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ with their own unique flair at various concerts.

“He inspires best effort from children — and creativity, poise, togetherness and joy,” Hawking said.

The names of 10 semifinalists will be announced in August, and one winner will be selected from that group and flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, along with a $10,000 honorarium, in 2014. The nine remaining finalists each will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of each finalist will receive matching grants.

“There weren’t a lot of elementary educators nominated,” Compton said of his nomination. “But there aren’t a lot of elementary education music programs anymore.”

This summer, Compton is offering private, in-home lessons to teach students to compose music on their computers. For more information, contact him at 503-347-0525 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view TIDINGS PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - James Compton leads students through a competition that tests their musical knowledge.

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