Lower Merion School District was recently honored with a "Best Communities for Music Education" (BCME) designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. This is the ninth consecutive year the District has earned this prestigious accolade.
The BCME distinction 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 District answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, community music-making programs and more. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
This award recognizes that LMSD is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing while leaving behind subjects in the arts. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.
Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who study music. After two years of music education, research 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 are also more likely 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; and 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. There are also noted social benefits including conflict resolution, teamwork skills and how to give and receive constructive criticism.
A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation, "Striking A Chord," also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.
LMSD has long been recognized for its outstanding music education programs, which include:
- Individualized music instruction at all levels
- Instrumental and choral ensembles at all levels
- Music theater programs at all levels
- Advanced, high-level music course offerings, including AP Music Theory and IB Music
- Co-curricular enrichment programs at all levels
- Award-winning middle and high school ensembles
- Service-based music programs, including a children's concert series, community performances and issues advocacy
- All-State orchestra, band and chorus participation
- Interdisciplinary experiences at the elementary level, particularly in the areas of art, physical education and world language
- Active partnerships with professional musicians, regional and national performance groups and professional organizations
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. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, click here.