16 CT School Districts Named Among Nation's Best Communities for Music Education

Sixteen Connecticut school districts are among 527 districts across the being recognized as being among the Best Communities for Music Education (BCME). The annual listing of outstanding music education programs, now in its 18th year, is developed by The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation in cooperation with researchers at The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

The awards program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the curriculum. Designations are made to districts that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education. These districts "set the bar in offering students access to comprehensive music education," according to officials at the NAMM Foundation.

The Connecticut school districts earning a slot on the Best Communities list:  Avon Public Schools, Bethel Public Schools, Bristol Public Schools, Canton Public Schools, Cheshire Public Schools, Fairfield Public Schools, Glastonbury Public Schools, Newington Public Schools, Newtown Public Schools, Plainville Community Schools, Regional School District No. 8, Simsbury Public School District, Southington Public Schools, Torrington Public Schools, West Hartford Public Schools, and Westport Public Schools.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, local school districts 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.

Last year, 13 Connecticut school districts were named, among 476 districts nationwide.  New to the list this year are Avon, Fairfield, Plainville, and Regional School District No. 8.  Falling from the list is Wilton.   

The designation takes on added significance this year, officials point out, with new research showing strong ties between K-12 school students who actively participate in school music education programs and overall student success. A recent study of students in the Chicago Public Schools by brain researchers at Northwestern University, detailed in Neuroscientist and Education Week, builds on previous findings that participation in music education programs helps improves brain function, discipline and language development, according to officials.

“Studying music has intrinsic benefits and, on its own, is core to learning.  Also, the links between student success and music education have now been demonstrated by brain researchers in multiple studies,” said Mary Luehrsen, Executive Director of The NAMM Foundation. “The schools and districts our foundation recognizes are building on that connection between music and academics. These schools and districts are models for other educators who see music as a key ingredient in a well-rounded curriculum that makes music available to all children, regardless of zip code.”

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. Its mission is to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs.