Piecuch Named Music Educator of Year
Instructor in Instrumental Music and Director of Band and Orchestra Programs Chris Piecuch has been named the University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music Educator of the Year. He will receive the award in an April 26 ceremony in the Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center.
With nearly 35 years of teaching experience, Mr. Piecuch has a history of elevating music programs throughout Memphis. He is tireless in his efforts to help young people develop their musicianship using a systematic approach to music education balanced with inspiration and relatability. During his three-year tenure at MUS, participation has increased by 50%, and All-West and All-State honorees have reached record numbers. He has created Honors and Honors Accelerated Wind Ensemble and Orchestra curricula, conducted impressive winter and spring concerts, and re-energized our pep band.
An instructor and clinician for many summer programs and clinics, he is also an accomplished performing musician, serving as contrabassoonist for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra since 1997. He has invited MSO musicians to campus to rehearse and perform with our students.
His career has included several high school director-of-bands posts in the Mid-South, most notably 23 years at Overton High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. At Overton, he directed the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Blue Jazz Ensemble, and Marching Band, and taught music theory. For 19 years his Overton bands received the Tennessee Sweepstakes Award (superior ratings in concert, marching, and sight-reading), and for 16 years his groups produced the most all-district and all-state band musicians in Tennessee.
Arts Department Chair Grant Burke, who initiated the nomination, described how Piecuch joined the faculty in the fall of 2020, at the height of the pandemic. “Even with all the uncertainty in the world, Chris was able to come through with extremely effective teaching,” Burke said. “When he started, we had 40 boys in our instrumental music program. Today, less than three years later, we have 60.”
Headmaster Pete Sanders said Piecuch is a deserving recipient of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music Educator of the Year Award. “For over three decades, students have benefited greatly from Chris Piecuch’s experience, his love for music, and his dedication to seeing young people grow in musicianship. I am thrilled our boys are now the recipients of his gifts.”