Bristol has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from the NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Bristol joins 476 districts across the country in receiving the prestigious award in 2016.
The Best Communities Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.
Districts that have been recognized by the NAMM Foundation are often held up as models for other educators looking to boost their own music education programs.
To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Bristol answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs, said a press release from Bristol Public Schools. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
This award recognizes that Bristol Public Schools is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act, said the news release. The legislation, signed into law in December 2015, replaces No Child Left Behind Act, which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing—while leaving behind subject such as music, said the news release from Bristol schools. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of well-rounded education for all children, explained the news release.
“Music has always played an important role in society and current research is supporting the cognitive and educational benefits in the lives of our students,” said Ken Bagley – citywide coordinator for music, according to the press release. “Being designated as a Best Community for Music Education is deserved recognition for the continued support we receive from the city of Bristol and the dedication and professionalism of a fantastic music staff.”
The NAMM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education Award and the implementation of the federal ESSA law bring attention to the importance of keeping music education part of the school’s core education for all students, said the news release. It also highlights music’s vital role in students’ overall success in school
Community music programs have been drawing increased attention because of a landmark study by Northwestern University brain scientists, explained the schools’ news release. These researchers found new links between students in community music programs and academic success in subjects such as reading.
Beyond the Northwestern study, the release said, other reports indicate that learning to play music can boost academic and social skills, such as processing math and learning to cooperate in group settings.
A 2015 study, “Striking A Chord” supported by the NAMM Foundation, also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum, said the news release.