Buffalo Grove Music Teacher Becomes Grammy Finalist

Lisa Fielding
January 13, 2020 - 2:00 pm
Elizabeth Bennett

Elizabeth Bennett /WBBM Newsradio

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- For Elizabeth Bennett, music has always been her destiny.

"My mother's side of the family is very musical. I started playing piano, then I picked up violin and bassoon," she said.

She's been a musician and singer her whole life, and has been Director of Orchestras at Buffalo Grove High School since 2008. She shares her love for music with more than 150 students each week.

"It's a very 'yes' school. They will take our creative, innovative ideas and allow us to try them. We try to make music available to any student who wants it in their lives," Bennett said.

Grammy Nominated Teacher
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Now, Bennett is a finalist for the 2020 Grammy Music Educator Award.

"When I received the email nomination, I said 'oh, this is a thing, this is amazing,'"she said.

Bennett was nominated by a former student.

The annual Music Educator Award recognizes teachers 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.

"I then had to complete some forms, some of it's informative, some of it's personal, as far as what your philosophy and everything, then the steps go from there. When I found out I was a finalist, I was shocked. To be amongst the top 10 is amazing," she said.

Elizabeth Bennett, Director of Orchestras at Buffalo Grove High School
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Bennett said the fine arts allow children to express themselves and it changes the course of their lives.

"Music allows our brains to process in a different way. It allows young people to express themselves that words can't, that science can't. Music can connect like nothing else can," Bennett said.

In a time, when many school districts are forced to cut the arts, Bennett said she's on a mission to change that culture.

"I used to always fight for the arts, but I'm not going to fight for them, because we need to embrace them and making it so obvious that they are necessary within our school systems, so it would never occur to cut them, so I try to make it essential in every student's life," she said.

Her students and colleagues are thrilled that their teacher has reached a bit of rock star status.

Grammy Nominated Teacher
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa FIelding

"Everywhere we go lately, people stop me. My youngest daughter asked me why everyone knows me and that I'm famous now," she laughed. "The school is so wonderful and it's fun, because everyone is sharing in the excitement. It's about the students, whether I've had them in the past. It's about the administration, the parents, the families that support music education. This is far more than about me," Bennett said.

Freshman Tyler Lieu said the nomination is such a huge honor for her.

"I think she deserves it. I can tell she has a real passion for music and helping students learn and appreciate it for what it is," he said.

Each year, one recipient is selected from the 10 finalists and recognized for their remarkable impact on students' lives.

For Bennett, whether she wins or not, she hopes to bring more attention to the importance of music education.

"My goal is, how can I shine a light on music education in a world that seems so dark sometimes, where music brings light and creativity to it? That's what I hope to do from now on," she said.

Grammy Honor For Chicago Area Teacher
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

The honoree will be flown to Los Angeles to attend the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards and a range of GRAMMY Week events. The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants. The remaining 15 semifinalists will receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants.

Bennett said she's keeping next week open, but is mum about if or when she'll find out the results.

"It'll be really exciting to experience. I'll find out with all of you, so watch the Grammy's on January 26," Bennett said.

Nominations for the 2021 Music Educator Award are now open at www.grammymusicteacher.com