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Draper Journal

Corner Canyon’s Clark Named Music Educator of Year

Mar 09, 2016 11:06AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Draper - Former Wasatch Junior High band director, Paul Watson, was not only a musician, but a mentor.

Corner Canyon High School’s instrumental teacher Randal Clark, who was recently named Utah Music Educators’ Association’s Outstanding Senior High School Music Educator for 2015, credits Watson for his love of music and teaching.

“He’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing,” Clark said. “Paul Watson won this award in the ‘90s for junior high teachers (and also won the UMEA’s Presidential Award this year) and is the best teacher I’ve ever seen. He has a natural ability to teach and his talent and personality motivated me. The way I teach is similar to his, by being honest and matter-of-fact, and if I can copy the best teacher out there, I can’t be too bad.”

Clark who in his own right has received several awards, including the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Legacy Award recipient for excellence in music education in 2014 and the USHAA outstanding music educator last year, said he had no idea when he received a phone call from the UMEA 15-member board and learned he would receive the award for high school music teachers.

“I had no idea that I was nominated and it’s a little embarrassing because all I do is set out to do the best job I can,” Clark said. “It’s nice that people notice and I’m getting recognized for it.”

He said that it felt like the “Academy Awards” of teaching music, knowing he was nominated by peers when he was honored Feb. 5 at their state professional development conference. He was honored with a plaque.

Clark, who has taught 18 years, the first 15 at Jordan High in Sandy where the program received top ratings at state competitions for the bands and orchestras he conducted, and the last three years at Corner Canyon High.

“People thought it was weird that I was leaving a program with so much success, but it has been a fun challenge to open a new school and establish a new program,” he said. 

Clark, in his own right, is an accomplished musician as he plays with the Utah Wind Symphony and directs the Utah Wind Symphony Youth Ensemble. He is also a member of the University of Utah jazz faculty and has conducted their wind ensemble and gives private lessons.

At Corner Canyon High, he conducts about 145 students in jazz band, symphonic band, wind symphony, symphonic orchestra, string orchestra and percussion. 

“We’ve received superior ratings at competitions ever since the school opened and in band, that’s extremely hard. Of the 25 to 30 bands who advance to state, only six to seven, earn straight superior ratings, so I’m proud of these students who work hard,” he said.

Having both schools he taught at receive superior ratings at festivals, region and state competition is part of why Clark was selected for the award, said Sharee Jorgensen, UMEA executive director.

“He credits the students, but it’s also they way kids respond to him as he’s very motivating and inspiring and has had straight superior ratings at both schools,” she said. “He’s also a really good mentor to other teachers, has held workshops and volunteers and contributes a lot to music to the state and to UMEA.”

Clark has been known to tour on saxophone along with other well-known performers such as Gordon Goodwin, Gerald Albright and Branford Marsalis, but he also plays his sax occasionally in class.

“Modeling is an important thing I do, and they know they can always see me play on YouTube, but being there, teaching them, motivating them to play and practice, and seeing their hard work pay off is part of the joy of teaching music,” he said.