Twelve Connecticut school districts have been named as being among the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education (BCME). The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation recognized 376 school districts across the country for exemplary music education programs. These districts and schools “set the bar in offering students access to comprehensive music education.”
The Connecticut school districts earning the recognition are: Avon, Canton, Cheshire, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Newington, Newtown, Southington, Torrington, West Hartford, Weston and Westport.
The BCME program applauds the efforts of teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders working to assure that music education is part of the core curriculum. More than 2000 schools and school districts participated in this year’s survey, according to the Foundation.
Now in its 15th year, the BCME program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music instruction. The NAMM Foundation with the assistance of researchers at The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas (an affiliate of the University of Kansas) evaluate participants on these factors. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and greater access to music education.
“These schools and districts make a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child,” said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Foundation executive director.
A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that students in elementary schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson compares the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test, according to an article published by the Public Broadcasting System.
Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University and an author of a recent study that was published in The Journal of Neuroscience in November 2013, looked at 44 healthy adults ages 55 to 76, measuring electrical activity in a region of the brain that processes sound. The New York Times reported that they found that participants who had four to 14 years of musical training had faster responses to speech sounds than participants without any training — even though no one in the first group had played an instrument for about 40 years.
The BCME program is described as one of the NAMM Foundation’s foremost efforts to bolster support for school-based music education programs “that must be available for all children. Providing music education for all students is something any community can accomplish if it has the collective will to do so, regardless of size or affluence,” the organization points out.
The NAMM Foundation is a non-profit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its 9,000 members around the world. The NAMM Foundation works to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs.
The full list of school districts is available on the NAMM Foundation website.