For Jonathan Boysen, director of bands at Eastside Catholic High School, music has been a lifelong pursuit.
As a child, Boysen began playing music on a piano with a cracked middle key, which is how he first learned to identify middle C. His first music lessons came from his mom, a piano teacher, at age 3. By the time he was 4, he had learned to play the “Star Wars” theme.
Now, after six years at Eastside Cathloic and 23 years as a music educator, Boysen, a North Bend resident, has been named by the Grammy Museum as a quarterfinalist for the 2020 Music Educator Award.
The national award was established to recognize teachers, from kindergarten through college, who have made a significant impact on music education. A total of 219 quarterfinalists from 204 cities were selected. Boysen is one of 11 quarterfinalists from Washington.
The winner of the award will be flown to Los Angeles to attend the Grammy awards, and will receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grants for their school. Semifinalists will receive a $500 honorarium with matching grants. Semifinalists will be announced in September.
“I can think of no one more deserving of this recognition,” said Ryan Aiello, principal of Eastside Catholic High School. “The creativity, compassion and care he exhibits daily is a model for all to follow, and we are so thankful for his continued service and leadership.”
Aiello said he credits the band’s success during the pandemic to Boysen, who orchestrated two virtual concerts using student videos and kept teaching students virtually.
“It was ‘go for it and hope for the best,’” Boysen said. “It was interesting, especially when we went [hybrid] in the middle of the year, seeing different kids in-person every day, teaching them in person, while teaching others online at the same time.”
Boysen said he was particularly happy when the sixth-graders returned to the classroom because they had been learning their instruments from scratch over Zoom.
Another high point of the pandemic came this year, when the Eastside Catholic band played its first live performance in a year and a half.
“It was huge,” Boysen said. “Making the videos is one thing, but having a live audience is a completely different experience.”
Besides this moment, Boysen said one his favorite memories as a teacher at Eastside Catholic came during a marching band competition five years ago during a windstorm.
“They called it the ‘storm of the century’ and we had a competition that day with 30 bands,” Boysen said. “Only us and one other band ended up making it, so the judges turned it into this all day one-on-one clinic session. It was incredible.”
Through his success, Boysen said his wife, Regan, who is an art teacher at Twin Falls Middle School in North Bend, has helped him the most.
“My wife has been a huge supporter. She’s kind of my sounding board,” Boysen said.
Boysen said he also gives credit to the Eastside Catholic community and students for their support and work ethic.
“The students are willing to work hard and are open to learning any crazy things I’m throwing at them,” he said.