School district receives award for Outstanding Support of Music Education for fourth consecutive year
By GRAYSON LEE MAXWELL
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 23rd 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.
To qualify for the Best Communities designation, RCS 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.
“Music programs are often the place in a school where students truly find a place of belonging and a place to develop skills such as teamwork, individual responsibility and critical thinking,” said Lindsay Halford, RCS Fine Arts specialist. “Music programs are also major culture builders in our schools and communities. Imagine football games and parades with no bands or holiday programs and community celebrations with no choir performances. Our music programs give students a place to grow as people and musicians as well as the opportunity to be an integral part of their school and community cultures.”
Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs were a vital component to keeping students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.
“This award is an outward reflection of what we already know – that we have truly first-rate music programs here in Rutherford County,” Halford said. “This award gives national recognition to the work that our music educators, school administrators, district leaders and community members do every day to ensure RCS students have access to the highest quality education. The fact that we have received this recognition for four consecutive years shows that this is an ongoing priority in our district. That is something that entire community can take pride in!”
Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill 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 and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training.
Significantly, 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. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.
About The NAMM Foundation
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs.
For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.