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Chaffee receives prestigious award for excellence in community service

By KELLY KIRK • May 31, 2018 at 3:00 PM

SANDUSKY — Firelands Symphony Orchestra (FSO) flutist and piccolo player Jody Chaffee is one of only five orchestra musicians from across the U.S. who will receive Ford Musician Awards for excellence in community service.

“We’re proud to recognize the generous service of these talented musicians, who go above and beyond to help make people’s lives better. Music and the arts bring people together and strengthen our communities — and that’s a benefit we can all share and enjoy,” said Yisel Cabrera, manager of government and community relations for the Ford Motor Co. Fund.

The awards will be presented from the League of American Orchestras at its 73rd national conference in Chicago. Chaffee and the other musicians will receive their awards at the conference luncheon June 14 and discuss their work during a panel.

“Each and every day Jody goes above and beyond as she engages with the students of our area’s schools. ‘Ms. Jody,’ as she is adoringly known by her students, not only shares her infectious enthusiasm for music, but her zest for life and can-do attitude with every child she comes in contact with,” FSO Executive Director Laurie Korobkin said.

Recognizing the transformative power of music, the awards honor those in the orchestra field who employ music for the benefit of the greater community. A licensed music education instructor, Chaffee’s comprehensive age-appropriate music programs are designed to surprise and delight children, instilling a desire for life-long learning of music and the arts.

Daniel White, Geotrac Foundation of Huron County founder and chairman, said Geotrac has supported Chaffee’s efforts to bring a variety of music to elementary students throughout the area.

“After about five years we are absolutely stunned by the impact she is having on our kids. Children in rural communities like ours are generally ‘music deprived.’ Jody’s tireless and enthusiastic work in our schools is creating a generation of music lovers. Her devotion to music and education is unique and infectious.”

The FSO music education program provides more than 5,000 area school children in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th grade with programs designed to excite, engage and encourage music learning while also meeting academic standards for the state of Ohio. Each school year, area musicians and guest artists make in excess of 350 visits to public and private schools throughout Erie and Huron counties.

“This program is an evolving project that was originally conceived in 2012 in an effort to engage the youth in our community and serve to expand the depth and breadth of the FSO mission,” Korobkin said. “Over the past six years, our programming has grown into what it is today with the support of parents, teachers and school principals as well as local philanthropic individuals and our community foundations.”

FSO music director and conductor Carl Topilow said recognizing Chaffee’s educational efforts is an outstanding accomplishment and highlights the importance of the FSO music education program.

The orchestra’s mission is “enriching lives through music.”

“As a major contributor to the arts and culture in North Central Ohio, we believe that enhancing music education is an essential part of the FSO’s mission. Supporting music and music education in our schools has never been more vital as our communities struggle with unemployment, economic survival and relevancy in a world economy. We know we are having a truly positive impact not only in our students’ lives, but in the lives of their families and ultimately our communities in general,” Korobkin said.

For more than 15 years, Chaffee, of Greenwich, has held the chairs of flute II and piccolo. In addition, she serves as the personnel manager and librarian for the Firelands Symphony Orchestra and newly formed FSO Chorale.

As music education and community engagement director, Chaffee creates and presents programming for all ages ranging from infancy through adulthood. Outside of the orchestra, she is a member of a professional flute quartet, High Frequency, which performs for a large variety of events. Chaffee, a 1991 graduate of Poland Seminary High School, graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor’s degree in music education. Holding a current Ohio teaching license, Chaffee worked as a band director for six years and currently assists various band programs throughout the state.

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