Las Cruces Public Schools has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Now in its 22nd year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in providing music access and education to all students.
To qualify for the Best Communities designation, LCPS 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.
While 2021 is the first year that LCPS has applied for and received this award, LCPS is well–known across the southwest and the nation for its successful music programs.
“Music education in all our schools is an outstanding way to keep students engaged with hands–on learning,” said Ralph Ramos, interim superintendent at LCPS. “Music students are self-disciplined; they get involved in school, stay in school, and maintain good grades. I have always respected and enjoyed the cultural impact our choir, orchestra and band programs have in our schools. During a most challenging year, this recognition underscores that commitment.”
Since the passage by Congress in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and an emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs and found that during a pandemic, music provides a valuable way to keep students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.
“Music education is important because it allows students to express themselves creatively in so many different ways,” said Alcy Talbot, a junior at Oñate High School who participates in band and choir. “Growing up taking music classes has taught me many important life lessons including the value of hard work and working as a team towards a common goal. It has taught me how to be more confident and to help uplift the people around me. Through music I’ve found my voice and I wouldn’t be who I am today without music education.”
“Just like language, music is universal in all cultures and as such is an essential part of a quality education,” added Jennifer Rogers, orchestra director at Las Cruces High School and past president of the New Mexico Music Educators Association (NMMEA). “Students who study music not only become better musicians, they become better individuals, learning valuable skills that include responsibility, teamwork, creative problem solving, citizenship, and perseverance. Music has the power to heal and through music, children can learn to process their emotions in healthy ways. Additionally, music gives students a safe community where they learn to build relationships and develop into a more confident individual.”
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. 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. Music education has also been linked to several social benefits like conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.
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.
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