Choral Arts Society of Frederick director Lynn Staininger wins outstanding music teacher award

Originally published by the Frederick News Post // By: Imade Borha

Lynn Staininger has been a music educator since 1986, but she had no idea that the Choral Arts Society of Frederick, which she directs, had kept a secret from her.

They nominated their beloved director for the Outstanding Music Teacher Award by writing letters to the Maryland Music Educators Association.

Unbeknownst to Staininger, she was a part of the association’s selection process for a year. Staininger, who is also the director of Choral Activities and Choral Conducting at Hood College and a music instructor at Frederick Community College, was honored with her award in April.

“It was a complete surprise to me,” she said. “It was really humbling … being in a room of music educators who have given their whole life to this craft.”


Photo of Lynn Staininger with her award for excellence
CASF Music Director, Lynn Staininger, with her MMEA Award for Excellence.

The award ceremony coincided with MMEA’s 75th anniversary. Past MMEA presidents discussed how the Maryland music educator community has grown. Staininger was also surrounded by her students, colleagues and family who celebrated her career. “If there was one award I could win in my life, this was the most meaningful, hands down,” she shared.

Her love of choral music has been a major underpinning of her career. “I found out what I really like is being with groups of people. I really like the group energy and the process of making a product together more than I like sitting on a piano bench practicing by myself.”

Many changes have happened since Staininger was a music educator in the late 1980s.

“There’s more pressure for kids to spend less time in music, but there’s also, in Frederick, there’s a great dedication in the community to keep choral music alive and healthy,” she said.

Staininger stepped outside the choral box by partnering with musicians Howard Burns, Anita Thomas and Bob Sykes, who performed jazz at a Choral Arts Society performance in April. “It was like attending a concert and giving a concert at the same time,” Staininger said. She found this partnership so fruitful, that the Choral Arts Society plans to record their collaboration with Burns, Thomas and Sykes next year.

Staininger is also preparing the Choral Arts Society for the Ireland Choral Festival in July, and she’s still enjoying what inspired her to become a music educator. “It’s still, despite all the changes in day-to-day education … an incredibly rewarding profession and career.”