Wahoo once again named among nation's "Best Communities for Music Education"
District's music program earns NAMM Foundation's distinction for second straight year
"The community of Wahoo and Wahoo Public Schools are extremely proud of our fine arts programs," commented WPS Superintendent Brandon Lavaley. "The time invested by staff and students is reflected in the quality of the performances, individually and collectively, within our music department. We are proud of our musicians and look forward to continued growth of this essential part of the educational experience."
These well-earned words of praise come on the heels of a recent press release from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, which has once again named the Wahoo Public Schools among the nation's "Best Communities for Music Education" for 2022:
Celebrating the Best in Music Education across the Nation the NAMM Foundation's Best Communities for Music Education Honors 738 School Districts and 80 Schools
NAMM Foundation Press Release (April 11, 2022)
As schools across the nation regain their cadence with the return to in-person learning and the reduction in mandates, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation is pleased to celebrate the list of Best Communities for Music Education (BCME). Now in its 23rd year, the 2022 Best Communities for Music Education program has recognized 738 school districts and 80 schools across 44 states for the outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders and their support for music education as part of a well-rounded education for all children.
“Music educators, administrators, and communities truly rallied to support and sustain music education through a period of intense change and adaptation. These districts and schools persevered in serving their students and communities and assured that music education was part of curriculum offerings,” shares Mary Luehrsen, Executive Director of The NAMM Foundation. “We applaud the commitment and efforts of all music educators, school administrators, and community members in providing students the opportunity to explore their creativity through music.”
This year's awards program was designed to celebrate schools and districts adapting, innovating, and persevering in the face of change. Researchers at The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas, in conjunction with The NAMM Foundation, created a new way for districts and schools to address the inroads and setbacks impacted by the pandemic, as well as goals for equity and access to music education for all students and national standards for music education in a short, qualitative survey.
"The 2022 Best Communities for Music Education is an opportunity to celebrate music programs and honors the resilience and dedication to keeping music as part of a well-rounded education as we all adapt to a new educational landscape," says Christopher Johnson of the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas. “If there was one common theme to be taken from all submissions, it’s that schools and districts found ways to sustain music education and student engagement in even the most challenging of circumstances.”
Collaboration and innovation were also common themes of districts named “Best Communities,” along with reliance on science-led studies supporting student health and mitigation strategies. Sharon Allen, Lead Arts Teacher at Chatham County Schools in Pittsboro, North Carolina, says that for their district, “When other programs in our area did not allow singing and playing instruments due to COVID concerns, our district administrators went before the Board of Education to present the data from the NFHS aerosol study (National Federation of State High School Associations) and demonstrate playing/singing with adaptive masks and instrument bell covers. As a result, the board approved students singing and playing in music classes following the recommendations of the aerosol study and provided the necessary PPE. I believe this action helped maintain student enrollments in music programs.”
In 2020, The National Federation of State High School Associations brought together a number of performing arts organizations, including The NAMM Foundation, to examine aerosol rates produced by wind instrumentalists, vocalists, and even actors and how quickly those aerosol rates accumulate in a space. The study included several follow-up studies, including flow visualization, aerosol and CO2 measurements, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling to understand the different components that can lead to transmission risk from musical performance and risk mitigation. Read more.
For the majority of music educators, music remained vital to core curriculum and as part of their community. Jenny Allen, Department Chair, Elementary Strings at Gilbert Public Schools in Gilbert, Arizona shares, “During COVID, the district did not waver in its support for music education. In 2020, prior to the pandemic, the district increased funding for the music department. These funds were needed to purchase instruments and music. It is my belief that the Best Communities Award designation solidified what the community had always known. We are an outstanding district for music education. This award showed everyone it was indeed true.”
Dr. Jon Moyer, Intermediate Band Director of sixteen-year winner Central York School District in York, Pennsylvania, says that “Music education is a part of the CULTURE of our school district. Through the support of the community, we consistently have high enrollment in music classes and performing groups while also sending a large number of student leaders to auditioned ensembles, festivals, and contests. Our families express their excitement about the opportunities that great music education can provide and are eager to get – and keep – their students involved in our programs.”
In addition to the 738 districts receiving Best Communities for Music Education recognition, 80 individual schools across the nation are being awarded the SupportMusic Merit Award (SMMA), which recognizes support for school-based music education programs.
“Even through COVID, our administrators did everything they could to make sure our music programs kept running strong,” shares Adam Scheele, Director of Bands at Central High School District of Westosha in Salem, Wisconsin. “Extra funds were given to the music programs in order for us to use proper mitigation strategies in our classroom and at concerts, and new instruments were purchased so that students no longer had to share school-owned instruments. This proved vital to keeping students engaged at a time when it was most needed.”
Kate Margrave, Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, affirms that strong support from both administrators and students has led to a stable program. “[Our] administrative support of the music program shows how much they care about these passions of our students. The students are resilient, and retention after COVID was high. Students recognize the importance of music education in their lives and thrive on it.”
Since its inception, over 2,000 schools and school districts have submitted a survey for evaluation. Based on survey responses in 2021, 686 school districts were recognized as Best Communities for Music Education, and 80 schools with the SupportMusic Merit Award. Past districts named a Best Community for Music Education included urban, suburban, and rural districts. Schools that have received the SupportMusic Merit Award designation included public and private schools and ranged from elementary to middle and high schools.
In conducting the annual survey, The NAMM Foundation and the Music Institute at the University of Kansas are joined by leading national arts organizations, including the League of American Orchestras; Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation; Music for All; Music Teachers National Association; National Guild For Community Arts Education; Yamaha Corporation of America; Young Audiences; and Save The Music Foundation.
Wahoo Public Schools also received this honor in 2021.
To qualify for the Best Communities designation, WPS 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.
"Being recognized nationally as one of the Best Communities for Music Education for the second consecutive year can be attributed to outstanding community support for our music education and fine arts programs," stated WPS Director of Learning Dr. Josh Snyder. "Current Wahoo Public Schools music instructors Mr. Jason Smith, Mrs. Melissa Smith and Mr. Logan Langholdt continue to build upon past successes and elevate our program to new heights. We look forward to the future and continued growth of our music education programs!"
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.
"The rich musical history and investments our community has made in our music department has allowed us to maintain throughout the district, high percentages of student involvement in musical ensembles for which we have been recognized across the state," Dr. Snyder added. "We have broadened the scope and sequence of our curricular and extracurricular programs. Our school board, administrators, and community consistently invest in our program and school. Over the past ten years, the number of students going on to collegiate music ensembles has increased exponentially. We have students going on to arrange, compose, and perform in traditional and non-traditional music groups and have become a school that is known, around the state, for our fine arts successes. Our musical 'family' begins in kindergarten and continues through high school and beyond. We are a community that loves music education!"
Congratulations Warrior Music on this well-deserved honor!
About The NAMM Foundation
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 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.