Glencliff High School in Nashville was one of only 27 schools nationwide to receive a prestigious award from the Grammys this year, and the man who helped the school nab the prize was Danny Combs, director of the Glencliff guitar program and graduate of Lipscomb University with a Master of Arts in Learning and Teaching.
|Glencliff Principal (left) Tony Majors and Danny Combs (right) accept the Grammy Enterprise Award.|
|(l to r) Scott Goldman, vice president of the Grammy Foundation; Danny Gokey, "American Idol" contestant, Anglea Polk, Ford Motor Company; David Seras, senior director of education for the Grammy Foundation, and Danny Combs, Glencliff music teacher and Lipscomb grad.|
Combs, of Asheville, N.C., has worked as a music teacher at Glencliff for three years, establishing a guitar program in addition to the existing band and orchestra programs. Providing lessons for a “cool” instrument like guitar seems to attract students who wouldn’t normally enroll in a music course, Combs said.
“They have an artistic side, but they wouldn’t normally take a structured music class,” he said of many of his students. “They say music is a universal language, and it is neat to see how we can get kids who don’t even speak the same language to sit down and play the guitar together.”
Glencliff is one of the most culturally diverse schools in the state, Combs said, and his guitar program is one of only four programs in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. After three years, his program has grown to serve 165 guitar students this past school year.
That was impressive enough for the Grammys, which searches for high-need schools with a vision for future growth nationwide to award its annual Grammy Enterprise Signature School Awards. Glencliff was awarded $5,500 to improve the program and received the award at their annual “Choice Awards” night on May 19, presented by various Grammy officials and Danny Gokey, a finalist in the eighth season of “American Idol.”
Glencliff will use the money to enhance Combs’ program, purchasing 15 amplifiers, 12 electric guitars, music stands, a jam hub and two base amplifiers. The remaining funds will be used to pay for field trips, guest speakers and other special events.
Combs says his students range from those who have never picked up a guitar to proficient players.
“There aren’t many days that go by when I don’t reference something I learned at Lipscomb,” Combs said of his master’s degree. “I really want to educate the whole child, not just the academic left brain, but also educate them emotionally, artistically and creatively. I want them to be lifelong learners.”
Prior to teaching, Combs worked as an artist management assistant at TBA Entertainment, representing numerous Christian artists, and as a publicist for AristoMedia, where he worked with country music artists. Combs also has a recording contract with Solid Air Records in California, has been published in Acoustic Guitar magazine and arranged the guitar for “The Christian Life Hymnal – The Accompanist Addition.”
Combs submitted the initial application for the Grammy Enterprise Award, providing lesson plans, CDs and video clips of his students playing.
“(This award) validates what we are doing here,” he said. “It means we are truly changing lives and making kids feel better about themselves. For many of these kids, guitar class is the highlight of their day.”
In addition to the grant money, Glencliff was also selected to be the site of one of only three Grammy Career Day’s held nationwide and sponsored by the Ford Motor Company. Glencliff students spent more than an hour asking questions of some of the nation’s top industry executives.