Aaron Bowling

Aaron Bowling

Aaron Bowling was recently awarded the National Federal High School Outstanding Music Educator Award.

Bowling is the choir director at Boyd County High School. He teaches two sections of choir as well as two beginning guitar classes, an advanced guitar class and advanced placement music theory.

Bowling on Wednesday stood on the auditorium stage with a portion of the high schools choir. As he took the students through the pronunciation of each word in their assessment piece. The music, written in another language, will be performed by the choir in March to be evaluated by the Kentucky Music Educators Association.

He would speak a word and the choir members would repeat. He then took them through each part of the harmony for the piece allowing students to hear the notes sung by a recording. A student raised her hand and Bowling immediately answered her question concerning the harmony by playing each note on the keyboard in front of him.

Bowling said he grew up playing many instruments, but his professional life has him focusing on two primarily, piano and guitar.

Bowling’s voice rang out from behind his mask as he shared how the piece should be performed. The students listened and sang along with their harmonies, some with more confidence than others.

The piece will come along. It’s brand new since school has resumed following the Christmas break.

Bowling has a knack for pushing his students to their best musically, while seeing their humanity along the way. That’s why Daisy Conn and Emily Harrington, two seniors in the choir, believe Bowling was deserving of his recent recognition.

“He constantly pushes us, yes, we’re nitpicking at things to the very end to work our hardest,” said Harrington.

“And in a very constructive and nice way,” Conn added.

Bowling’s ability to relate and get the best out of students goes beyond music.

“He’s more than a teacher,” said Harrington. “He doesn’t just give us some work and we do it and call it a day. He really looks out for every single student. You feel completely comfortable going to talk to him about anything.”

Just as each note has its value in a song, so do the students who find themselves in Bowling’s classes.

“He’s really good at including everyone and just making everyone feel comfortable and also, he checks up on people,” said Conn.

NFHS awarded eight sectional awards and 15 state awards for the school year. Bowling was awarded a sectional award for Outstanding Music Educator. Bowling was chosen for the section two award which includes Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the District of Columbia, Bowling shared.

The choir director said he was awarded high school music teacher of the year by KMEA, which nominated him for the NFHS award.

Bowling found out just before Christmas “and it was the biggest surprise because I had no idea I had even been nominated,” he said.

He shared that he was “blown away” and “was really taken aback by that.”

Harrington said that Bowling is great about getting students up to date with where they need to be in order to succeed.

“Everyone’s learning constantly,” said Harrington.

“He’s setting us up to excel in music as a whole,” said Conn.

Bowling has adjusted his teaching strategies and modified based on what has worked and what hasn’t as the pandemic has changed schedules and means of instruction. Being back in the school with students has been crucial, he said.

However, Bowling is always prepared for the virtual day whether it be for COVID reasons or weather. As he shared the new piece with the choir Wednesday he told the students where they could located the music to practice. Bowling has learned to be ready for anything, and with snow predicted to fall, he has the files ready online.

Bowling’s beginner guitar class is for students who have never heard a guitar or have not learned how to read musics, especially tablature, he said.

Teaching choir and guitar allows Bowling to continue in two things he loves.

“I’ve played guitar since I was a little kid,” said Bowling. “That was my introduction into music, but choir was always a passion of mine as well. I get to do both of my passions, which is an amazing thing to me. I just love it.”

Bowling’s passion is recognizable in how he instructs and how he interacts with his students.

“We have a lot of fun in class,” said Conn. “We don’t just sing, we learn a lot about music theory too. He teaches us about sight reading.”

The choir will be judged on their sight reading abilities at the KMEA festival in March. The choir is given a piece of music they have never seen before. After a certain amount of time, they will have two chances to perform it for judges.

Harrington explained the sense of accomplishment when a piece comes together. The choir is split into two separate classes, so the students don’t get to hear the full breadth of the piece on the day-to-day.

“Near the end when everything just comes together because we work on songs in pieces, and near the end you just put it all together and just hearing everything it’s really something,” said Harrington.

“It’s magical,” added Conn.

Another piece of the magic behind the choir at Boyd County High School is the community, said Conn.

“The friendships we build, especially within our groups, like all the altos have a really tight bond,” she said. “It’s really cool.”

Bowling has a bachelors degree in music education from Morehead State University as well as a masters degree in choral conducting.

Bowling technically began his journey with Boyd County in 2001 when he was a student teacher under the advisement of former high school choir director Carl Taylor, who he replaced in 2014 following Taylor’s retirement. Bowling has also taught at Catlettsburg Elementary where he was when the position at BCHS opened up. Bowling said he even pulled double-duty teaching at both schools before transitioning to the high school full-time.

“I’m just excited that I get to teach at Boyd County and that my administration and my students and my co-workers all support what we do,” said Bowling. “Our music department in general, our school and our students, they all support everything that goes on here. It’s just really nice to have a supportive environment.”

Trending Video