RANDOLPH, NJ- Tom Murphy, Randolph Middle School and High School Band teacher, was selected for the 2013 Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award last Spring. This award recognizes music educators for outstanding accomplishments and vision as a public school music educator.

Murphy was given the opportunity to have some of his students Skype with famous composer Robert W Smith. “This guy is so famous that I am nervous,” joked Murphy, on Thursday Dec. 5.

Smith joined Murphy’s RMS group of one hundred sixth grade band students for an afternoon of rehearsal. Smith watched and listened to the group via Skype, while Murphy conducted the children playing one of his famous songs titled “Morpheus.” This opportunity was also supported by the Randolph PTO.

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As if the sixth graders were not excited enough, The New Jersey Network was in the school to tape a segment for their “Classroom Close-up.” The network focuses on innovative projects happening in New Jersey public schools. They decided to feature Murphy’s class not only to showcase the Skype session with Smith, but also to recognize Murphy as a recipient of the distinguished award.

Classroom Close-up is in its 20th season and airs on NJTV. This is a 30 minute weekly series featuring students, school staff and communities who participate in successful school projects.

After listening to students play “Morpheus”, Smith offered detailed feedback to all of the band members. His ability to hear the subtleties in the music enabled him to share his insights with the players in each section of the band. He was particularly impressed with the low brass.

The session was concluded with a Question and Answer session between a few selected students and Smith. When asked what kind of music he liked, Smith stated “I like everything from Cold Play to Beethoven to Nine Inch Nails; a little of everything.”

“I think the world would be a different place if we all learned to sing each other’s songs,”  Smith said, to which Murphy asked “Is that quote in a book somewhere?”

“This was the most focused group I have ever done this with,” Murphy stated as he closed the event, and thanked everyone for this session.

This episode of Classroom Close-up will not air until March 16; stay tuned and check out www.classroomcloseup.org