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JJC music professor moves to next round in Grammy contest

Morgan among 217 vying for educator award

JOLIET, Ill. — Joliet Junior College’s Charles Morgan may just come home with a Grammy award next year.

Morgan, music coordinator at JJC, is among 217 other music educators in the United States, and 14 in Illinois, who have been nominated for the first-ever Music Educator Award that will be presented by the Recording Academy — and the Grammy Foundation — in February 2014. Before this quarterfinalist round, there were 30,000 nominations in all.

If Morgan wins, he will also receive a $10,000 prize. If he is one of the nine runner-ups, he will win $1,000.

Morgan said he could not believe he had been nominated for this honor.

“It amazes me that a student would think enough of me to send in a nomination,” Morgan said. “There are so many great music educators out there, people I respect, who did not make it this far in the process. It is still hard to believe.

“It’s very humbling to think I was chosen out of 30,000.”

Morgan grew up playing the trombone in New Lenox, Ill. As a student, many music teachers inspired him. Some of his influences include his first trombone teacher, Marvin Johnson; his junior high band director, Tom Goodwin; his high school band director, Randy Kummer, and JJC’s Jerry E. Lewis. Morgan said he also worked with amazing professors while attending Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Ill., and VanderCook College of Music in Chicago.

As a teenager, Morgan wasn’t sure what he wanted to pursue after graduation. But while attending JJC in the late 1980s, it became clear that his passion was in music – and teaching.

“JJC is where I decided to become a music educator,” he said. “Without coming here, the connections that I made – the life changing decisions would have never happened. I would be a different person if I did not come to JJC.”

Morgan’s advice for future music educators is simple: be the best musician you can be, have a love and passion for music, have an understanding of people, and be able to communicate this to students.

“I have been fortunate to have had so many strong teachers who had such a passion for music, that they were able to ignite that passion in me,” Morgan explained.

Morgan has been teaching at JJC since 1998. In addition to being music coordinator, Morgan is a music adviser, and directs the JJC Jazz Band and JJC Community Band.

After the Recording Academy — and the Grammy Foundation’s —“quarterfinalist” round, many nominees will be eliminated, and a list of semifinalists will be released in August.

For more information at JJC’s Fine Arts Department, visit, or contact Fine Arts Department Chair Dr. Daniela Broderick at 815-280-2287 or For more information about the Grammy’s first-ever Music Educator Award, visit

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