Upper Arlington City Schools News Article

UAHS Orchestra Director Chris Lape honored as top "40 Under 40" music educator

Chris Lape posing against a painted brick wall with a viola slung over his shoulder

Chris Lape, an orchestra director at Upper Arlington High School, has been honored as one of the top music educators in the country with the 2024 Yamaha “40 Under 40” — Music Education Excellence recognition.

Yamaha established this award in 2021 to celebrate 40 educators under age 40 who are leading the way in music education across the country at the K-12, collegiate and professional levels by making a difference in growing and strengthening their music programs and bringing innovation and passion into their classrooms.

Lape was honored for growing the music program by adapting the curriculum from every-other-day to everyday instruction at the middle school level while serving as the orchestra teacher at Jones Middle School, prior to moving to the high school. With this change, he was able to bring innovative and engaging activities into the classroom — including a rock band project that allows students to work together to create their own arrangements and a “spooky” string sound FX story tied to Halloween.  

“I want to do what’s best for our students because we place a lot of value on our students and their musical journey,” Lape shared. “I’m intentional in how I interact with students to help them build confidence in themselves as musicians. I value their opinions and give them a voice in musical decisions and repertoire choice. If you take the time to build rapport with your students, you’ll see that they have a lot to offer. We celebrate successes and provide a safe space for struggles and mistakes. That’s how we build resilience and grow!”

Lape co-chairs the Central Ohio String Festival, a large-group adjudicated festival that Upper Arlington High School hosts for middle school and high school orchestras. He also serves on the board of the Ohio String Teachers Association (OSTA), is chair-elect of the Ohio Music Educators Association South-Central Region, and is the co-chair of the OSTA District 15 Middle School Honors Orchestra, which Jones and Hastings middle school students participate in each year.

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