For the second year in a row, the Wilton Public School district has been honored with the “Best Communities for Music Education” designation from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 20th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Wilton 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.

“It is an honor to have our program recognized in this way by a national-level organization. It’s a distinction earned by many outstanding music education programs around the country. We earned it thanks to our wonderful students, the dedicated work of our music teachers, and the support of our administration, board of education, and community at-large,” said Nick Loafman, Wilton High School’s band director and instructional leader in performing arts.

This award recognizes that Wilton is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. Researchers found that, after two years of music education, 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.

A 2015 study supported by the NAMM Foundation, “Striking A Chord,” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.

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.

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