“Obviously it was exciting to see all the current pop stars and country stars and all those folks, but really for me the excitement was getting to learn more about what the Grammy Foundation is trying to do for music education,” Riggs says. “There’s not really a bigger voice for music, so it’s great to know that they’re trying to help us in the music education trenches.”
A former student nominated Riggs for the honor, which comes with a $10,000 honorarium. “One of the neatest things about the whole story is that I was nominated by a former student who then went on to be a middle school band director,” Riggs says. “Someone that literally followed in my footsteps … nominated me. That’s pretty cool.”
Riggs now teaches music at the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham, a residential magnet school where there is no marching band. Previously he taught music and marching band at Ronald Reagan High School in Pfafftown, North Carolina, where he was also fine arts chair, and Ledford Middle and High Schools in Thomasville, North Carolina. He still works as an active clinician and marching band adjudicator.
As part of his prize, Riggs will travel to Walt Disney World to experience Festival Disney and take part in the awards ceremony in April. Additionally Disney will provide a custom workshop for his students at their school.
“That really epitomizes the relationship [between Disney and the Grammy Foundation] because we are going to those students in their setting, and even though we offer about 14 different workshops here, we customize it to be really exactly what they need there,” says John Horton, business development director for Disney Youth Programs.