California Educator

March 2017

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Page 46 of 55

Far left, Keith Hancock with students; at left, cheered by the Grammy audience; below, with wife Carly at the Grammys. T H E WA L L S O F Keith Hancock's classroom are plastered with thousands of photos of current and former students, class trips to big cities and foreign countries, and choir performances in famous and exotic venues. Block letters at the top of the back wall that spell out "We Are Family" say it all. For Hancock, choral music teacher at Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, teaching is about the music, of course. But it's also about family and life. Hanc o ck's abi lity to c onn e ct throu g h music to a much broader level with each of his students is a big reason he won the 2017 Grammy Music Educator Award in February. It starts with conn ecting socially and building family. His advanced choir of 65 kids attends a summer retreat each year. But he also has a kickoff bonfire for all 220 of his students at the beginning of the year, followed by plenty of other activities. "We play broomball, we do movie nights once a month to get kids connected even more," says Hancock, Capistrano Unified Education Association. "We go out after every one of our concerts to share meals together. We hang out after class. It makes them into a more cohesive group." Then there's the actual music. "I try to pick songs that are representative of a variety of styles, cultures, time periods and languages, so students are able to appreciate different things," he says. "I tell them the story of the different pieces — if they can relate to it, there is a lot more buy in." For example, Hancock had his students learn and sing "Sfogava con le stelle" by 16th and 17th century Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi. "It translates to a guy venting to the stars. He's love- sick and he's going through a range of emotions about a woman who doesn't want him back. Students loved singing the piece. It made it more meaning ful for them to look at the poetry and understand what they're singing about." Finally, there's life. Hancock hands out a list of "Hancock's Laws" to his students. ese life lessons, he told CBS News, include "Live your life with passion" and "Don't put anything on your credit card that you can't pay off in a month." His students say they remember them well past their time in his classroom. Hancock, in his 15th year of teaching, directs students in five curricular and four extracurricular ensembles, and runs Tesoro's music production and audio engi- neering program as well. The Grammy Award includes honoraria of $10,000 each for him and Tesoro. He'll use some of his funds for a vacation with his wife Carly, also a music teacher, and their children. Most of the money will go toward the school choir account for expenses such as "sheet music, technology and scholarships for students on choir tours." He and Carly were thrilled to attend the Grammys. The best part? "It was amazing to meet some of the people who I count as major influences and I respect, such as Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz," he says. "And being recognized by all the people I look up to while putting a spotlight on music education — it was great to see the Grammys affiliated with the music education side of things. at I can be a spokesperson for and the face of music education, I'm honored." We Are Family Educator and Grammy winner Keith Hancock teaches music and much more " We go out aer our concerts to share meals together. We hang out aer class. It makes them into a more cohesive group." 45 March 2017

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