For more than 35 years, Richmond music teacher Leonard Kay has inspired hundreds of students to become involved in the district's music program.
Whether it's the concert and jazz bands, the choir, guitar or musical theatre, Kay brings his passion for music to his students.
For his untiring commitment to his teaching career, and as an executive member of the BC Music Educators' Association, last year Kay was honoured with the 2011 Richmond Arts Awards' Arts Education Award.
"It is recognition that music is a vital art in the education of our society. There are many wonderful music educators in our community who work hard and add their 'pieces' to the puzzle," he said. "Making music is so much more than simply listening to it. I only wish that every citizen could take advantage of the opportunity to discover their own talents in this art form."
The City of Richmond Arts Awards program recognizes the artistic achievements and contributions of residents, artists, educators, organizations and business leaders.
This year's finalists for each of the six categories will be announced on April 20.
To nominate someone in the local arts scene, submit a form by March 19.
For his win, Kay credits his students for feeding his own enthusiasm.
"They inspire me. I just feed their curiosity. Every single student has become part of my teaching. They all have something to offer me and society, at large," Kay said.
Kay said many students have found every imaginable musical career from classical, jazz, rock, country and pop performance and composition to recording engineering and electronics technology, and teaching.
"I always have said, 'Whether one's plans are to become a doctor, a lawyer, or a candlestick maker, the experience of learning to make live music will find its way into that career."
Spoken like a true educator, Kay ended with this: "There is a great deal of research which indicates that folks who make music are doing themselves a big favour to live a long and healthy life. The benefits of learning music are far-reaching. It may sound hokey, but I am proud to have had a part in so many individuals' lives, to encourage them to explore their human potential."
For more information, or to pick up a nomination form, call the City of Richmond at 604-276-4000, go to City Hall, 6911 No. 3 Rd. or visit www.richmond.ca/artists.