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FHSD Receives National Music Education Recognition

The Forest Hills School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. This recognition comes after an extensive application and review process.

“Music education is such an important piece to the work we do educating children and providing opportunities for them to succeed in and out of the classroom,” said Toby Biederman, director of the Anderson High School Bands and the bands at Ayer, Summit and Maddux Elementary Schools. “This recognition is a testament to our entire community for prioritizing music education and supporting students in their artistic endeavors.”Anderson High School choir students practice during a rehearsal.

Now in its 23rd 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 Forest Hills School District 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.

“We are able to provide students with well-rounded experiences at the elementary level and we continue to offer valuable musical opportunities throughout their time at Forest Hills School District,” said Stacey Moyer, a general and choral music teacher at Summit Elementary School. “This recognition is possible because music education is supported and highly encouraged at every level by the district and by our community.”

Ayer Elementary students perform during music class.The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 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.

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs were a vital component to keeping 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 being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.A Maddux Elementary student plays the drum during music class.

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.