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Tech alumnus wins CMA’s Music Teacher of Excellence Award

Rutherford County Fine Arts Coordinator, Lindsey Halford, Andrew Lynn, and Stewarts Creek Middle Principal, Dr. Letoni Murry.An alumnus of Tennessee Tech University recently won the Country Music Association Foundation’s Music Teacher of Excellence Award.  

Andrew Lynn has served as band director at Stewarts Creek Middle School in Smyrna since the school opened in 2006. He was one of 30 music teachers in the nation who received the award in 2022. The foundation chooses 10 music educators from Nashville, 10 from the rest of the state and 10 nationwide.

The award program, now in its sixth year, was created to recognize educators who are having a significant impact on their students, using the power of music as a pathway for change. It acknowledges those who go above and beyond their roles and responsibilities in the classroom and who are essential to their students and communities.

“Music has made a huge impact on my life. As a middle school band director, I have the privilege of helping students begin a journey that can bring them joy and truly change their lives,” Lynn said. “To be recognized for that is very special.” 

The CMA Foundation has a rigorous application process for the Music Teachers of Excellence Award. In addition to answering detailed essay questions, Lynn had to submit videos of him teaching along with recommendation letters from administrators, colleagues and parents of students. 

Lynn chose to pursue a music education at Tech after he had the opportunity to visit the music department through participation in the All-Star Instrumental Symposium and the Festival of Winds and Percussion in high school. 

“I fell in love with the campus and the music department and wanted to be part of the amazing things that were happening at Tech in the mid 1990s,” Lynn said. “As a tuba player, I was aware of the worldwide reputation of the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble and Professor R. Winston Morris, and I knew there were few places in the country where I could study music with such world-class faculty.”

Lynn credits several of his Tech professors with providing him the strong foundation on which he has built his career. He credits Morris with having a huge impact on his life. His direct and down-to-earth approach to music is something he said he has adopted in his own teaching. 

He said it was also a privilege to learn under the baton of Professor Joseph Hermann, who served as director of bands during his time at Tech. Andrew Lynn with U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona

“The music that he could draw out of a group was incredible and his philosophies about school band greatly impacted my approach to band directing,” Lynn said. 

The late Wayne Pegram, a 2007 inductee into the Tennessee Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame, was also an influential teacher and mentor to Lynn. 

“After observing me during a student teaching lesson, Dr. Pegram once said, ‘well, you look like a band director.’ I’m sure he thought nothing about that comment, but coming from him, it was like receiving an academy award,” Lynn said. 

Lynn, who is a second-generation college graduate, got his love of music from his parents who were both musicians. Lynn’s father earned one of the first music education degrees from the University of Tennessee at Martin. Lynn said his parents, his music minister at the church, his band director and his teachers all influenced his decision to pursue music as a career. 

“I am so fortunate to have many people who have guided and encouraged me over the years. Among those are my parents; my childhood music minister, Dan Arterburn; and my high school band directors and teachers, Jeff Beckman, Jerry Beckman, Nola Jones, and Erich Zimmerman,” Lynn said. “Not only did they influence my decision to study music, but they also encouraged me to attend Tennessee Tech.”

There were just too many memories of his time at Tech for Lynn to narrow it down to just one favorite. He met his wife, Beth, an elementary music educator, during a tuba recital at Tech in 1996. The chance to perform with incredible ensembles in places like Carnegie Hall in New York stand out for him, but the camaraderie that they developed in the music department, especially the tuba studio, is what he remembers most. 

“Tech always felt like the right place to be, and when I get the chance to visit, it still feels like home,” Lynn said. 

The SCMS Band, under Lynn’s direction, has performed for the Tennessee Music Education Association convention two times and been recognized with multiple Tennessee Bandmasters Association Sweepstakes Awards and American School Band Directors Association Awards of Distinction. The program is consistently one of the best represented in the All-Midstate and Rutherford All-County Bands. 

Lynn is the founder and co-director of the Rising Stars Band Camp, a summer program for beginning band students focused on developing comprehensive musicianship. He currently serves as the State Chair for the Tennessee Chapter of the American School Band Directors Association. 

He has been an executive board member for the Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association and is the chairperson for the All-Midstate Middle School Jazz Band. He is a member of Phi Beta Mu honorary music fraternity, and has been awarded Citations of Excellence from the National Band Association.

Lynn also performed as the tubist for the Capitol Brass Quintet for 13 years.  Aside from the countless young musicians he has influenced, one standout is his son Carter, a trombone player with the Stewarts Creek High School Band. 

“This is my twenty-fifth year as a band director, and I’ve spent most of those years as the band director at SCMS. I really enjoy teaching middle school students and I’m proud of the program that, along with many amazing people, I’ve been able to build,” Lynn said. “As of now, I plan to spend the next five years at SCMS. Once I can officially retire from teaching, I’m sure I will consider other opportunities that are connected to music education.”

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