BERKELEY HEIGHTS, SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - While GRAMMY Awards are typically associated with the most renowned figures in the music industry, one local resident has emerged with a chance to bring home the prestigious award. Vincent Turturiello, a Berkeley Heights resident and teacher at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School is one of the quarterfinalists for the 2015 Music Educator GRAMMY Award.
Turturiello, who has been living in Berkeley Heights for thirty-four years and teaching at SPFHS for thirty-five, is among 222 quarterfinalists that are in the running for the award. He is one of eighteen music teachers in New Jersey to be selected as a quarterfinalist for the award.
Along with a superb reputation as one of the most beloved educators in the area, Turturiello also has earned an extensive amount of accolades throughout his career to bolster his case for the award. He has been selected as Outstanding Music Educator of the Year for the state of New Jersey, given the Governor's Award for Music Education, selected to march down Fifth Avenue with the President in the New York City Columbus Day Parade, performed for the opening of South Street Seaport, as well as for 20,000 at the Susan G Komen Race For the Cure in New York City.
Anyone—students, parents, colleagues, community members, or the teacher themselves—can nominate an educator for the award. Once nominated, a nominee can fill out an application to be selected to the list of quarterfinalists. Over 7,000 nominees filled out applications for this year’s award.
A Facebook page dedicated to supporting Turturiello has garnered tremendous attention throughout the community, with already over 700 members and steadily growing. Dozens of current and former students, some from as many as twenty years ago, have been sending in videos to show support and explain the positive effect Turturiello had on them.
“I was very surprised that I would have been chosen from 7,000 candidates. Let’s face it when you are involved in music you are competing against the world,” Turturiello explained. “I am a modest person when it comes to my accomplishments, but as the Facebook group grew to [over 700] former friends, teachers, and students, I was overwhelmed. It is truly amazing to me how all of these people took the time out to let me know what I meant to them, how I inspired them and how they continued using the direction I gave them to become better musicians, teachers, performers, actors, or whatever line of work the selected.”
The illustrious music career of Turturiello began in the Belleville school system—home of the Jersey Boys, and Connie Francis—first playing in the fourth grade. Just as many students claim Turturiello as their musical inspiration, Turturiello named Frank Scelba (his first instrumental music teacher), David
Dworkin (private instructor), and Nick Cerrato (college professor) as his own influences in shaping his musical career.
According to the GRAMMY Foundation, “The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (K – college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.”
“My goal is to teach and develop good people, I guess you can say I have been moderately successful,” Turturiello remarked.
Once the quarterfinalists have been announced, the nominees for the award will be reviewed by a Selection Committee to determine the semifinalists. The group of semifinalists will be announced in September. This group will be then whittled down to only ten finalists, all of whom will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also will receive matching grants. Ultimately, one winner will be selected by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation. Prizes include being flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attending the GRAMMY Awards ceremony, and receiving a $10,000 honorarium.
This is the second year that the Music Educator GRAMMY Award will be presented. Although it is not one of the awards that will be announced in the television broadcast award ceremony, the winner is recognized at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony during GRAMMY Week 2015.
For more information, or to show your support, following the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1418110191801792/