Music director named quarterfinalist for the 2022 Music Educator Award

Dr. Matt Leder, music director and instructor at Gadsden State Community College, was one of 10 Alabama music educators selected as a quarterfinalist for the 2022 Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and Grammy Music Foundation. The announcement was made in September. 

“I’m incredibly honored to be recognized as a quarterfinalist by such prestigious organizations,” he said. “I love my job and I love what I do.” 

Leder was the only northeast Alabama educator selected as a quarterfinalist and the only instructor from a higher learning institution in the state. 

The Music Educator Award is open to current, full-time educators who teach music in American public or private schools – kindergarten through college. The purpose of the award program is to bring attention to the “excellent and impactful work” being done by music teachers in the U.S. 

Being named a quarterfinalist wasn’t Leder’s only recent accomplishment. He was chosen as a jazz columnist for the Alabama Music Educators Association Journal, “Ala Breve.” He also served as a jazz conductor and clinician at the Alabama All-State Jazz Band Festival, which was hosted by the Alabama Bandmasters Association in April in Birmingham. 

He was selected to be a part of the College Music Fellows Program sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants. All fellows were awarded a $1,000 stipend to support travel to attend Summer NAMM in Nashville in July. Fellows were selected based on their commitment and aptitude for developing curricula related to business leadership and innovation in the music products industry. 

“What an exciting opportunity for Dr. Leder and for Gadsden State,” said Mario Gallardo, division chair of Gadsden State’s Fine Arts Department. “The level of knowledge he gained from this program definitely benefited our music program. He gained additional expertise in developing curricula related to music products, production, administration, management and marketing as well as product creation and innovation.” 

The two-day event allowed attendees to discover the latest musical products, experience innovative education and training and unite with industry peers. 

“I received specialized programming, including sessions on the music industry, curricula and leadership development,” Leder said. “I also had the opportunity to be reunited with music industry colleagues and leaders.” 

Fellows were also special guests to the Top 100 Dealer Awards, which celebrates the achievements of music retailers around the world. 

“I’m certainly grateful for the many opportunities I have been given to grow in my profession,” he said. “It is so important to continue honing my skills and taking opportunities that allow me to perform and teach.” 

Leder earned his Doctor of Arts in Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado; a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from East Carolina University. He is also a graduate of the Armed Forces School of Music in Little Rock, Va. 

Before coming to Gadsden State in 2014, Leder was director of music and assistant professor at Northern New Mexico College. He has also served as an adjunct faculty at the University of Colorado at Denver, South Piedmont Community College, Brown University, St. George’s School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition, he served eight years in the Navy Music Program and four years in the Air Force Music Program. 

In addition to performing at Carnegie Hall, Leder has performed at many jazz and trumpet festivals throughout the country, including the Southeast Trumpet Festival, the Billy Taylor Jazz Festival, the Rocky Mountain Trumpet Festival and the Brown University Jazz Festival. He has also performed at the Armed Forces Celebration in Sydney, Australia, and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. He is also the founder and producer of the Gadsden State Jazz Festival.