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Music to Our Ears:

Gail Needleman Earns Lifetime Achievement Award

In recognition of her work as a folk song researcher and translator, an inspired creator of undergraduate curriculum, and an inspiring educator, HNU Lecturer in Music Gail Needleman ’98 MM has received the Organization of American Kodály Educators’ Lifetime Achievement Award. Needleman, who joined the HNU faculty in 1998, has taught graduate courses at the Kodály Center and undergraduate musicianship and theory classes.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, presented in March, goes to the “rare person whose impact upon Kodály music education transcends that of what might be considered an outstanding educator, administrator, or researcher,” according to the OAKE website. “ … Her influence has left an indelible mark upon the state of American Kodály music education.”

The award recognized Needleman’s accomplishments in areas including: undergraduate music curriculum development, notably her internationally-recognized Great Works program that integrated history, theory and aural skills in teaching musical studies; primary research and transcription of songs for HNU’s acclaimed American Folk Song Collection website; and translation of Hungarian choral works by Lajos Bárdos into English.

Her longtime role in inspiring students is reflected in their academic and professional success: More than half of HNU undergraduate music students go on to pursue advanced degrees. Said one student: “Her carefully structured lessons naturally led my colleagues and me to deeper levels of understanding of fundamental and advanced musical concepts.”

Her peers find her words inspiring as well: The keynote speech she delivered at the International Kodály Symposium in Alberta, Canada, in August explored the role of music in our lives and what we sacrifice if we fail to understand its essence in healing our inner and outer worlds. The speech, “The Circle of Life: Music, Nature and Human Possibility,” was reprinted in the Autumn 2017 Bulletin of the International Kodály Society.