Yamaha launched the "40 Under 40" music education advocacy program to celebrate and recognize outstanding music educators who are making a difference by growing and strengthening their music programs. Their students range from transitional kindergarteners to college undergrads at public, private and charter schools, as well as private music students. Their programs are small and large, brand new and with storied histories.
In the fall of 2020, we asked for nominations of music educators under the age of 40 who showcased the following characteristics: action (anticipate what needs to be done and proactively take the necessary steps that lead to a stronger music program), courage (propose and implement new or bold ideas), creativity (show innovation and imagination in achieving plans and objectives) and growth (establish, grow or improve music education in their schools and communities).
We received hundreds of nominations from students, parents, other teachers and administrators, local instrument dealers and mentors.
The selected "40 Under 40" educators below have gone above and beyond to elevate music and music-making in their students’ lives — like Jason Sleppy, who secured the use of Lucas Oil Stadium during the pandemic so his students could have an end-of-year performance; Willie Garfield, who started his music education career as a teenager; Jennifer Antonetti, who created an app to help music educators keep track of inventory, student information and more; Eric Jimenez, who launched a podcast about urban music education; and Michael Gamon, who created a role-playing game complete with set pieces and a website to engage his violin students.
We are inspired and in awe of this inaugural class of “40 Under 40” educators.