The NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation has once again honored Wilton Public Schools with the Best Communities for Music Education designation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Now in its 24th 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, music teaching staff 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 by school officials and reviewed by the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
“Our music education program is a great source of pride for the community because the students enjoy their learning and when they are applying it and playing for the community it is absolutely magical,” Wilton High School Principal Dr. Robert O’Donnell. “Our student musicians are among the best in the country because of the outstanding instruction and opportunities that they receive. Our music educators are dedicated professionals who are at the top of their craft. When we combine this with our wonderfully supportive music parents, our programs flourish.”
In a letter to teachers, Superintendent Kevin Smith wrote, “This distinction is yet another confirmation of the rich arts and music culture that is so ingrained into the fabric of our school system and community. Bravo.”
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. In addition, 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. Social benefits of learning music include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its 15,000 member companies and individual professionals. The foundation advances active participation in music-making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs.