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Name: Herbert Johnson
Residence: Charlotte, NC

Knowing that the piano intrigues his students, choral director Herbert Johnson `01 captured a Grammy Foundation Signature Schools grant in 2011 to create a piano keyboard laboratory at Bessemer City High School.

The N.C. school was one of 36 schools across the country to win a $5,500 Grammy Signature Schools Award.

Johnson said the arts have been hit hard in these tough economic times. His application though struck a chord with foundation officials who read that Johnson’s students had a desire to learn music but didn’t have the financial means to pay for lessons.

Johnson reasoned that developing a keyboard lab at Bessemer City High could be a way for students to learn about an instrument and have a space to practice. The lab, set up this fall, has 15 keyboards so he can accommodate a class of 30 students.

Foundation officials said Bessemer City was the ideal candidate for the grant because it recognizes schools in rural or economically challenged areas. Johnson, who has returned to Winthrop as a graduate student to study music education, takes what he learns in his graduate classes back to his choral groups.

And those lessons are paying off. One of his students, Tray Good, nominated Johnson as a teacher who had great influence on his life. He wrote in the local newspaper, the Gaston Gazette, that Johnson seems to eat, drink, and sleep music.

“Mr. Johnson is a remarkable teacher. His class has introduced me to different cultures from foreign lands, and we studied music theory in-depth to become better musicians. I had never realized how complex music could actually be. Because of positive attitude, incredibly interesting curriculum, and great work ethic, Mr. Johnson has made the most significant impact on my life.”

Once Johnson graduates in 2012, he said he is considering teaching music possibly on the community college level or getting into the music business with an ultimate goal of artist management.

Last updated: 07/24/2012
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