Elk Ridge Teacher in Running for Grammy Music Award
Elk Ridge Middle School music teacher Keith Goodrich is a quarterfinalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award. — Keith Goodrich
More than 3,300 nominations were submitted for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. Recently, the quarterfinalists were announced, which included an Elk Ridge teacher as Utah’s representative.
Keith Goodrich, who teaches three choir classes and three orchestra classes at Elk Ridge Middle School, was recently announced as one of 290 quarterfinalists in 41 states for the award.
“I was surprised that I’m the only one in Utah since there are so many music teachers,” Goodrich said. “It’s been good for my students to see that I’ve been nominated for this award. So often, we hear of extraordinary things happening, but not to anyone close or around them. Now they can realize it does happen to people they know, and it can get them to think, ‘it can be me.’”
The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators 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.
In September, the semifinalists will be selected. Then, 15 semifinalists will receive a $500 honorarium. Ten finalists will be named and one recipient will be recognized for making an impact on students’ lives and be invited to attend the 59th annual Grammy Awards ceremony and other events that week. The nine other finalists will receive $1,000 with their schools receiving matching grants.
Goodrich was nominated for the award by school counselor Camille Cook last fall.
“I’m also a musician, and I’m really impressed at the level he is able to get his kids to perform,” Cook said. “He expects a lot of his students, but they rise to the challenge every time. What he is able to get them to do, to believe in themselves, is at the high school level.”
In her recommendation, she wrote that what Goodrich teaches students will serve them both in high school and in life.
“I am impressed with the depth of content that Keith delivers to his choirs and orchestra classes,” she said. “Not only does he select appropriate and interesting music for his students to learn and perform, he also takes time to devote to teaching music theory, producing students who are more than prepared to move into high school level music courses. In addition to an in-depth musical knowledge base, Keith’s students develop a love for music that is impressive and will serve them well as they further their education.”
Goodrich said that for the past two at Elk Ridge, he has encouraged his students to be positive and through that attitude, they succeed.
“I don’t allow kids to say ‘I can’t,’ but ‘here is what I can do.’ I help encourage them to grow, and it’s not what I see, but they realize by trying harder music or auditioning for a piece, it’s that they can see and know how they’ve grown,” he said.
His largest class size two years ago was 62 students. Last year, it was at 90. Cook said the numbers are set to increase this fall, with projections that one choir class will reach 130 students. Concerts are no longer held at Elk Ridge but rather at Bingham High, since the middle school auditorium is too small.
Cook said Goodrich’s classes have increased in size because of the reputation he has given the music program in being challenging and fun.
“The kids just love it,” Cook said. “They see it as challenging, but since Keith is a dancer, he incorporates choreography in the music so they are having fun. They just look and sound amazing. At the same time, the kids are learning about music and theory. They’re growing as people and musicians.”
Goodrich said he uses music as a way to help students learn they can achieve other things in life.
“They’re learning life skills, music, hard work, discipline, responsibility,” he said. “Often, we find that when they do well in music, their math or other grades improve or they improve in sporting events or personal ways because they learn they can tackle difficult things and do well at them. It’s an important time in their lives when they realize they can set and reach their goals. My expectations are really high in my class, but when I let them know what I expect and I help them, they surpass them. They’re performing music that I sang in college and memorizing their parts. It’s just amazing.”
It’s not just on the music level students connect with Goodrich. Cook said that students feel comfortable with Goodrich on a personal level.
“He creates a safe place where students can learn, not be afraid to audition, where students are supportive of one another,” she said. “Middle school is when kids are looking to connect with someone or something, and Keith helps to provide that. He’s really sensitive to their needs and can sense if they are struggling or need help. They really trust him.”
Goodrich said that he makes his music room feel safe to students.
“Sometimes kids are afraid of putting themselves out there,” he said. “I make it safe for them here and have the support around them to try new things, to grow and develop both as a musician and as a person.”
He has incorporated teaching approaches from his former teacher, Dixie State University assistant professor of music Merrilee Webb, and mentor, West Jordan performing arts teacher Kelly DeHaan.
“Merrilee welcomes everyone and enables them to be the best they can be. She uses their strengths to strengthen the group,” he said. “Kelly completely changed my life in the way I teach. Kelly says yes to everything and enables the kids to be able to do it from adding little things to make it exciting to be performing 70 times in 24 days.”
Goodrich himself tries to role model his positive attitude approach by auditioning for several musical opportunities in the Salt Lake Valley. He has been cast in several musicals at Hale Centre Theatre and has been invited to perform violin or sing for various venues.
He has his bachelor’s degree in music education with an emphasis in vocals from Dixie State University and plans to pursue his master’s degree.
“I love teaching,” he said. “I love explaining and helping people learn all the time. My passion is dance and music as well as teaching, so I have the best time singing, dancing and laughing and helping students grow and learn.”