PHOTO / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT

Rutherford County Schools

Rutherford County Schools has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 22nd year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

“Music and arts education is an incredibly important part of achieving our mission of empowering students in RCS,” said Dr. Jimmy Sullivan, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Rutherford County.

“We are extremely proud of the work our music teachers and students do to achieve excellence and contribute to their school communities. This distinction from NAMM is a fantastic way to recognize these contributions on the national level.”

To qualify, music educators in Rutherford County Schools answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

Rutherford County Schools is committed to ensuring every student has opportunities to reap the benefits of music education and to pursue their interests in music and the arts.

At a time when many school districts across the county limited access to music education during the COVID-19 pandemic, RCS employed research-based mitigation strategies and music-specific technology resources to ensure students were able to continue making music.

Students in RCS have a variety of musical options to choose from throughout their K-12 careers, including courses in general music, band, orchestra, choir and music theory.

“This national distinction is really exciting for us because it shines a light on how our community in Rutherford County supports music programs in our schools,” said Dr. Lindsay Halford, a fine arts specialist at the district-level for Rutherford County. “This is not just an award for our school system, but truly something for the whole community to be proud of and to celebrate.”

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world.

The foundation — www.nammfoundation.org— advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational, cognitive and social benefits for children who make music.

After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech than their less-involved peers and students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school but are also more likely to attend college.

Everyday listening skills are stronger in children with music training than in those without music training. Listening skills are closely tied to the ability to perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention and keep sounds in memory.Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound. Young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers.

Social benefits of music education include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.