West Jeff band director earns lifetime achievement award

Elmer Broecker, West Jefferson High School and Middle School band director, is the recipient of the Columbus Symphony’s lifetime achievement award for music educators.

(Posted April 19, 2024)

The Columbus Symphony has selected Elmer Broecker, West Jefferson High School and Middle School band director, as this year’s recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Each year, the symphony honors music educators who make a difference in the community through a dedication to music education and promotion of a greater understanding of and appreciation for the art form.

Winners are named in four categories: elementary, secondary, private/community, and lifetime achievement. Each receives a $2,500 grant to spend at their discretion on music education endeavors.

The selection process starts in January with open nominations. In February, a panel selects finalists from those nominations. The finalists then go through an interview round after which the winners are chosen.

Co-workers, parents of students, and students themselves submitted nominations in support of Broecker, all praising his nurturing nature and willingness to go above and beyond to provide his students with a wide variety of opportunities. Maryn Roberts, a junior at West Jefferson High School, was among those who submitted nominations.

“(Mr. Broecker) treats people with prior music experience the same way he treats people with none. He believes that anyone can do anything, as long as they have faith in themselves, and that’s what makes him stand out,” she wrote.

Broecker grew up in Fort Jennings, a small village in northwest Ohio. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Findlay College in 1979 and has since continued his education with graduate level workshops and classes from a variety of universities.

Broecker has been a band director for 43 years in Ohio, the last 16 years at Jefferson Local Schools. His bands and students consistently earn superior and excellent ratings at Ohio Music Education Association events. In addition to performing at contests, in school, and in the local community, Broecker’s students have performed in Washington D.C., Virginia Beach, the Kentucky Derby parade, the Detroit Thanksgiving parade, on a Bahamas cruise, at Ohio Supreme Court holiday receptions, the Rhodes Tower office building, Orlando, Ohio State University skull sessions, Buckeye Invitationals, Ohio State University men’s and women’s basketball games, and numerous other locations around Ohio.

Over the years, Broecker’s former students have collectively played in over 28 college bands, the U.S. Army bands and U.S Navy bands, and community bands. Two have graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music.

Broecker’s teaching philosophy is based on the following principles: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Meet every student where they are and direct them to where they need to go. Every student needs to learn how to be a responsible, productive member of society and how to collaborate with other people to survive in the workforce. Making music is a tool to make better people.”

Broecker and the other honorees for 2024 will receive their awards at the 27th Annual Music Educators Awards ceremony and dinner on May 4 at the Ohio Theater in Columbus. Tickets are $65 and include dinner, awards, and concert admission and can be purchased by calling (614) 221-4916 by May 1.

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