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Andrew “Drew” Benware’s passion, dedication, and influence hit all the right notes for his students - and the prestigious Grammy Awards.

The two-time IC alumnus and current Summer Music Academy faculty member was one of 25 semifinalists nominated (out of 2,000 nationwide nominations) for the Grammy “Music Educator Award” honors. The award recognizes the “excellent and impactful” work of music educators across the nation. 

“My passion for music education comes from a desire to live well always and do good always,” Drew says. “I try to inspire the good in others, and the vehicle I can use most effectively is my music.”

The nomination—spearheaded by the family of one of Drew’s students in Saranac Lake—came as a happy shock.

“It was two-fold—kind of equal parts humbled and surprised. It was certainly nothing that I had ever anticipated or expected. I was also grateful that the family of one of my students had taken the time to nominate me and recognize me as someone who has inspired their son over the years as a music educator.”

 Drew graduated from IC with a bachelor’s degree in music education, receiving his master’s in music with a concentration in choral conducting five years later. As a faculty member from 2009-2013, he taught courses in wind instrument pedagogy, instrumental conducting, and secondary instrument methods. He also supervised student teachers, conducted the Brass Choir, and served as a sabbatical leave replacement for the conductor of the Concert Band. He is now the Director of Choral Activities at Saranac Lake (NY) High School and returns to Ithaca each year to teach a wide variety of coursework during the Summer Music Academy.

“I feel as though the musical training I received at Ithaca, and that I was able to pass onto my students as a faculty member, has been second to none,” Drew says. “I’m really grateful for the institution and its mission.”