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South Orangetown Music Teacher Gains Quarterfinals For National Award

South Orangetown music teacher Matt Rotjan, shown with an unidentified student, is a quarterfinalist in a contest for the 2017 Music Educator Award, which is given out by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.
South Orangetown music teacher Matt Rotjan, shown with an unidentified student, is a quarterfinalist in a contest for the 2017 Music Educator Award, which is given out by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. Photo Credit: BJ Greco, South Orangetown Central School District
Matthew Rotjan conducts at Carnegie Hall during a performance of the Interschools Orchestra of New York in May. The South Orangetown music teacher is a quarterfinalist in a contest for the 2017 Music Educator Award.
Matthew Rotjan conducts at Carnegie Hall during a performance of the Interschools Orchestra of New York in May. The South Orangetown music teacher is a quarterfinalist in a contest for the 2017 Music Educator Award. Photo Credit: Provided

ORANGETOWN, N.Y. -- A South Orangetown music teacher is in line for a prestigious award.

Matthew Rotjan, who teaches at both the South Orangetown Middle School and Cottage Lane Elementary School, had been named as a quarterfinalist in the contest for the 2017 Music Educator Award.

More than 3,300 teachers were nominated for the award, but only 290 educators, representing 264 cities, made it to the quarterfinals.

The award is presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.

Rotjan teaches third- through eighth-graders to play stringed instruments and in orchestras. He joined the South Orangetown Central School District in 2008.

Rotjan was also nominated for the 2015 Grammy Music Educator Award and was a quarterfinalist for the 2016 and 2017 Grammy Music Educator Awards.

According to Interschool Orchestras of New York, Rotjan says believes that a quality music education gives children not only an opportunity to study music but also a “unique social context” in which they can grow as students.

When not teaching in the South Orangetown schools, the cellist works with young musicians in New York City as a conductor of the InterSchool Orchestras of New York’s Trinity Florentine Orchestra.

Rotjan co-founded the Rockland Youth Orchestra, a not-for-profit organization.

He has also presented at conferences for the New York State School Music Association, Connecticut Music Educators Association, New Jersey Music Educators Association and the American String Teachers Association.

A Florence Geffen Scholar, Rotjan teaches and studies at Teachers College, Columbia University.

He graduated from Ithaca College with degrees in music education and performance and has master's degrees in music and music education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

The award is given to teachers in both public and private schools who have made a significant and enduring contribution to music education.

According to grammyintheschools.com, one recipient will be selected from 10 finalists.

The winner will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the Grammy Awards ceremony and be given a $10,000 honorarium.

The nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools where the 10 finalists teach will also receive matching grants.

Semifinalists will be announced in September.

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