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West Hartford Public Schools’ Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

West Hartford Public Schools has earned a ‘Best Communities’ designation for music education.

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For more than ten consecutive years West Hartford Public Schools has been honored with the “Best Communities for Music Education” designation from The NAMM 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 efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, the Department of Fine and Performing Arts representatives 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.

Asked about the district’s national recognition, Department Supervisor Andrew Mayo said, “We are so grateful to be recognized as one of the Best Communities in Music Education. It’s a strong statement about West Hartford’s commitment to arts education and to teaching the whole child. Music plays a vital role in helping students learn to work in harmony together, and provides a safe and joyful space where they can express themselves. We are so proud of our musicians, and so thankful for the community’s support.”

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.

West Hartford Public Schools is a district of approximately 9,900 students in grades PK-12. Students begin their instrumental lessons in elementary school. By fifth grade many audition for a chance to perform at The Bushnell Center for Performing Arts with the annual Inter-Elementary Festival of Music. The schools’ young musicians aspire to join select ensembles in the middle and high schools, which travel to festivals and competitions nationally and internationally. West Hartford Public Schools is proud to earn the distinction of being one of the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education.

For more information about the NAMM Foundation, visit www.nammfoundation.org.

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