Pioneer Director of Orchestras Jonathan Glawe named Michigan String Teacher of the Year

Award is just the latest in a long line of accolades for teacher who helps keep music instruction happening from home

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

The Michigan String Teacher of the Year Award typically goes to teachers in the later years of their career.

So for Pioneer Director of Orchestras Jonathan Glawe to receive it at the age of 39?

“That’s very special to me,” says Glawe. “The Michigan Chapter of the American String Teachers Association is an educational and performing organization with values that I deeply believe in. Members show deep respect for those who paved the way for current teachers to be successful, while simultaneously supporting teachers who are trying to reimagine the whole darn thing, and push toward progress.”

Pushing toward progress is something very familiar to Glawe (pronounced “Glave”).

And that’s why the ASTA made the perfect choice in honoring Glawe (pronounced “Glave”), says Damani Partridge, president of Pioneer Orchestra Parents’ Society.

“I think Mr. Glawe has helped make Pioneer High School a destination for music education and performance,” said Partridge, who says his daughter, PHS senior Jasmine Bose Partridge, and her classmates have successfully continued their music education online thanks to Glawe helping to develop and implement the Upbeat music app at Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Partridge says he’s also impressed with the way Glawe invites world-class conductors and musicians from across the country into his classroom, takes his students around the world to perform, and welcomes PHS music student alumni to join and lead some of the activities. 

“He is also making music education accessible to people from a broad range of economic backgrounds and building a music community for the long term and in a way that reaches far beyond Pioneer High School,” says Partridge.

Glawe happily accepts his award.

Glawe works tirelessly to create unique and meaningful experiences for his students in music as well as guiding them through the difficulties of navigating high school, says Reid Smith, strings specialist with AAPS.

“I am continually impressed by Jonathan’s ability to analyze the individual needs of students and tailor the curriculum and instruction to move everyone in the classroom forward in a way that resonates with them,” Smith says.  “Day after day he brings an incredible amount of passion and pedagogy to the music classroom.”

Smith notes that while Glawe is a very serious teacher and musician, he is quick to share fun and embarrassing moments from his younger years—including the times he was the drummer in a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band.  

The Pioneer High School Orchestra performs together from home.

The Michigan String Teacher of the Year Award is given to Michigan private teachers in even years and public school teachers in odd years as a way to honor those who have taught for more than 10 years in the state providing exceptional work in string education. Teachers are nominated by their peers, and a voting process takes place with three final candidates.

Anda Jiang has been a violinist under the direction of Glawe for nearly three years. She says she’s impressed with the way he has developed multiple platforms and exercises for digital music learning, including app development, external technologies, and numerous extracurricular activities such as luncheons, showcases, and virtual camps to engage and inspire students.

“I’ve always been inspired by Mr. Glawe’s passion for musical excellence and his true dedication to his students,” she says. “He works tirelessly to provide opportunities and engagement for young musicians, while also being deeply considerate of their well-being.” 

Anda says Glawe sets up an environment of understanding, frequently prioritizing student health and well-being.

“He has always been available to me as a resource—whether this is for personal musical advice or as a resource for other classes or projects,” says Anda. “Not only this, but Mr. Glawe is committed to developing an approachable student-to-student relationship, creating mentorship committees, encouraging communication, and setting up virtual events to welcome new coming students.”

Glawe was recently interviewed about his year of teaching during the pandemic by Eastman Strings. Click here to watch.

In the fall, Glawe talked about what it’s like to teach music online in this presentation to the California Music Educators, and noted that teaching in a virtual classroom has been tough and that he misses the human connection:

Glawe talks about teaching orchestra online in this presentation last fall.

Glawe is a double bassist who has performed with many bassists throughout the midwest, and as a clinician, Glawe has presented clinics on a wide variety of topics across the United States.

Jonathan Glawe, shown directing the Pioneer High School Orchestra in 2019, very much misses in-person instruction.

A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Glawe holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Oregon. Prior to his time in Oregon, Glawe taught in the Darien Public Schools in Darien, Connecticut. He was hired as the new Director of Orchestras at Pioneer High School in 2008, and has since a number of accomplishments, including:

  • 2010: Implemented a summer camp for Pioneer Orchestra students in Interlochen
  • 2011: Voted as the Orchestra Director of the Year by District 12 of the Michigan Band and Orchestra Association
  • 2012: Chosen as a finalist for the Michigan Orchestra Director of the Year award
  • 2012: Hosted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at Pioneer High School
  • 2013: Pioneer Chamber Orchestra performs and wins the grand prize at the National Orchestra Festival in Providence, RI
  • 2013: Voted as the Orchestra Director of the Year by District 12 of the Michigan Band and Orchestra Association
  • 2014: Pioneer performs the world premiere of the Fiddle Concerto, composed for Kiana June Weber
  • 2015: Voted as the Orchestra Director of the Year by District 12 of the Michigan Band and Orchestra Association
  • 2015: Hosted the Toyota City Junior Orchestra in a Friendship Concert with the Pioneer Symphony Orchestra
  • 2015: Trip to Italy with 120 members of the Pioneer Orchestras
  • 2016: Represented the US in a symposium of Music Education in Stockholm, Sweden with a quartet from the ensemble
  • 2017: Music Performance of Symphony Orchestra at the Midwest Clinic
  • 2019: Trip to London with 145 members of the Pioneer Orchestras

Glawe says the core vision of the American String Teachers Association is about love for people first, and love for music second.

“It’s what I aspire to do every day,” he says. “This is why I am so deeply honored by this award, and to be the caretaker of the historic Pioneer High School orchestra program. “

Click here to learn more about the PHS orchestra program.

Glawe encourages anyone interested in checking out the outstanding work of Pioneer musicians to attend the March Showcase:

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