OVIEDO, Fla – An Oviedo High School music teacher is receiving statewide recognition for his project called “Project Grow Music.” The Florida Music Education Association awarded Alexander Busby the 2022 FMEA Exemplary Model Project Award.
Busby explained that he wanted to do something special for his keyboard classes. He says thanks to the Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools “Grants for Great Ideas,” he and his classes were able to commission an original piece.
“So I reached out to my friend and composer Dr. Travis Alford, and said, ‘Hey, the money is not great, but the kids are willing to learn and we would love to do this. Would you entertain working with us?’ And he was all for it,” Busby said.
“You’re always kind of throwing yourself out there. I was a new teacher to Florida, a new teacher to Oviedo High School. I didn’t know their backgrounds, I hadn’t seen them on campus, but I knew at the rate they were working for the first month they would go for it and eat it up wholeheartedly.” he said, “I was hoping they would take ownership and enjoy the process and really get into that and they exceeded that. I mean it was challenging. I’m not going to lie, but they always engaged and came with interesting questions for him.”
Busby said the project began with a survey, in which he asked his students what they knew about the commission process. From there, Busby gave Alford parameters, including the ability levels of his students. From there, Alford met virtually with the classes three times.
The final piece is called ‘(dis) Connected’. Busby selected representatives from each keyboard class to play in a final performance that was uploaded to YouTube. Busby describes the song as calming.
“It’s reflective. It’s programmatic in that there’s a backstory to it,” he said.
Busby said the students had a range of experience, including students who had never previously played.
“You get some kids who don’t really have much of an interest in being there and my hope is over time they learn something. And what I hope they learn outside of keyboard is appreciating music, and not just in a music appreciation way, but in a way where they feel open to sharing about how music has impacted their lives,” Busby said. “What I found was that, of course, I knew this before, music is just one those non-biased regardless of emotional status or where you are money-wise or if you’ve lost people, it’s a connecting kind of bonding thing.”
Busby will receive his award at the FMEA conference in Tampa early next year.