By OLYMPIA JARRELL
The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation has nominated Mary Washington’s own Professor Mark Snyder for the prestigious Grammy Educator award. This award, according to the Grammy Foundation, is a way to honor achievements in the recording arts as well as to support the music community.
For some, music is a growing process. However, Snyder has belonged to the music world from the very beginning. When asked how he first got into music Snyder said, “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in music so I don’t know if there was an event or a thing that made me interested.”
Snyder was chosen for this award out of 290 quarterfinalists from more than 3,300 nominations, according to an article written by Erika Spivey, UMW’s assistant director of Media and Public Relations. When asked about how he felt concerning his nomination, Snyder said, “I was really happy when I found out I was nominated but really honored when I learned I was a quarterfinalist for the award.”
Snyder went on to mention how he had taken a look at some of the other finalists and what they had done in their musical careers and discovered just how amazing and inspiring they were. He went on talking about how he had been a Grammy member since 2008 and said, “It works to represent the best in recorded music and to act as an advocate for recorded music and musicians.”
When asked what kind of music Snyder specialized in, he responded with, “Good music. At least, I hope. I am billed as a multimedia composer because I create video and software that takes the sounds and lights to an otherworldly place.”
Snyder also mentioned that he plays guitar and he sings songs that he writes in Nature Boy Explorer, his band. He said, “In addition to this, I produce and engineer records for bands like Shades of Opal, Aaron Taylor, Westwork, Amalgamation, The Belts, Malhombre and Los Welblers.”
Snyder is from Richmond and went to school at North Stafford High School. “I am a product of Mary Washington,” he said, “so I don’t like to specialize in only one style of music, I love to explore and experience everything and that’s probably why I do so many different things.”
When asked what it meant to teach at the University of Mary Washington, Snyder said, “A gift. I was sitting on top of the world teaching Recording in Muscle Shoals at UNA. When the chance came to come back and teach here, I knew it would be transformative.”
Snyder shared how many of his students were creating amazing works of art that were also connecting them with people. He describes teaching music in a Liberal Arts setting as beautiful because his students are constantly inspired by what they are doing in other classes.
For instance, Snyder said, ”Austin O’Rourke won and Stephen Hennessy was a finalist for the ASCAP Morton Gould Award.”
O’Rouke’s work was made in Snyder’s Electronic Music course and Hennessy in his independent study. The awards went to Ivy League composers and top conservatory composers.
“If you’re happy spending days, weeks, months not getting it right to finally, one day, get it, this is your space”, Snyder said. “That’s what I’ve always loved about music. It’s all about forgiveness and redemption.”