Plumas Unified music teacher Jane Brown meets with a Quincy Elementary student via Zoom video conference for a music lesson. Photo submitted

PUSD music teacher Jane Brown wins Innovation Award

Submitted by Cary Dingel

PUSD music teacher Jane Brown poses with her CMEA Innovation Award plaque. Photo submitted

Plumas Unified School District congratulates music teacher Jane Brown for receiving the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) Innovations Award Honoring Excellence in Music Education. According to the CMEA, the Innovations Award goes to a music educator who “identifies, promotes, and expands innovative pathways and practices/processes in music, ensuring all students receive a high-quality music education.”

This school year, Brown brought a variety of approaches to teaching music remotely, from meeting with elementary students in groups on Zoom, to hosting district-wide master classes for band musicians, to bringing ensemble music playing outdoors.

Truly an innovator, she has found a way to use technology to broaden her reach, and provide inclusive, accessible music education for her elementary and junior/senior high students located in Chester, Greenville, and Quincy, who might have had a year without any music instruction due to the challenges of teaching music in-person while adhering to Covid guidelines. Playing instruments that use mouthpieces can generate droplets and aerosols, which can spread the disease.

In addition to video conferencing with elementary students to learn percussion on upturned buckets or strumming and chords on bright red ukuleles, Brown meets with junior and senior high students online for coaching, and an Advanced Placement (AP) music theory class. “Remote learning made offering the AP music theory class a reality,” said Brown, because she was able to draw from several communities to enroll the number of students needed.

When weather permits, she holds band rehearsals in a school parking lot. In-person classes are always focused on safety, with students distanced, playing while wearing specially modified face masks, and using filtering bell covers on the large openings of their instruments to contain any droplets.

Brown brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her position as music teacher at PUSD. She is an accomplished musician, arranger, and renowned conductor of such musical entities as the Reno Pops Orchestra, Reno Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra, Ruby Mountain Symphony, the Chester Community Chorus, and has served as the guest conductor of many honor bands and orchestras in Northeastern California and Northern Nevada. She is also in the final stages of completing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is currently serving in her 33rd year as a music educator–having taught in public, charter, and private non-profit organizations in Utah, Nevada, and Northern California. Jane also guest conducts professional orchestras both here and abroad — including frequently conducting in the provincial capitals of the Russian Federation: St. Petersburg and Arkhangelsk in the Northwest, several cities in the Caucasus, cities along the Middle Volga, and in Siberia.


Quincy Jr/Sr High music students play outside using modified face masks, bell covers for their instruments, and with lots of space between students. Photo submitted