Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM)
This March, educators and students are celebrating music education in their school communities demonstrating how “Music: The Sound of My Heart” resonates with them. This is the theme of the 2021 observance of Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM). The impact of music education on the lives of students during this particular school year, unlike any other, is evident in how the social-emotional benefits have carried them through the pandemic and brought joy in their communities.
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) recognizes March as the thirty-sixth annual Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM®). Since 1985, MIOSM has been observed as a yearly month-long celebration when schools and communities celebrate music in their local schools and the educators who devote themselves to bringing music into the lives of students every day.
Every day, in music programs across the United States, music educators dedicate themselves to reaching all students with life-changing musical experiences. What parents, administrators and the wider community have not always had the opportunity to observe, however, is the months of practice and rehearsals, and the process of learning that takes place in the music classroom—whether virtual or distanced in person.
Click through the tabs above to learn more about music education in LMSD and some of the ways our amazing students and staff have continued to thrive despite the pandemic!
In 2020, Lower Merion School District was honored with a "Best Communities for Music Education" (BCME) designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. This was the tenth 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.
According to The NAMM Foundation, 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 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.
Meet our Elementary Instrumental Music Teachers in the video below!
Since September 2020, young musicians in fourth and fifth grade band and orchestra have been attending weekly Zoom meetings to learn how to play their instruments with music teachers Tressa Joseph (Belmont Hills & Merion) and Leslie Burnick (Penn Wynne & Gladwyne). Mrs. Joseph can be seen in the images above working with fifth grade instrumentalists from both of her schools while Mrs. Burnick is in the pictures below with her string students!
In the slideshow above, instrumental music teacher Charlotte DiNenna practices online with wind, brass and percussion groups! The students have been working diligently in preparation for their upcoming Virtual Concert, which will be performed via Zoom for friends, family and staff!
Elementary Belmont Hills, Cynwyd, Merion, Penn Valley
In elementary instrumental lessons, teachers encourage students to learn and perform music that is special to them. Bryce is a fifth grade percussionist at Gladwyne. During the holidays, Bryce’s family enjoys performing music together. Due to Covid-19 their performance had to look a little different this year. Here is a video of Bryce performing on his snare drum from his families virtual holiday concert!
Third graders from Mrs. Raicich’s class at Penn Wynne learn to play the recorder with
vocal/music teacher Barbara Humes.
At Merion Elementary School, students in grades K-5 have been part of engaging music classes all year via Zoom - and now finally back in the classroom! Students sing, dance, play, listen, watch and create every time they come together - wherever that may be. The goal is for students to both build skills while having meaningful musical experiences that expand their understanding of the world and inspire creativity. Mrs. McCarthy and her students are excited to be able to create music together in the same classroom during the final trimester!
LMSD@Home students recently worked together to create their very own school song, which was featured in a story on the District website. And guess what? LMSD@Home students just produced a second school song, which - just like the first anthem, with lyrics composed by all of the middle school students and music by fifth grader Levi Craig - was a collaborative effort. Aaron Silber, an outstanding seventh grade musician from Welsh Valley penned the lyrics while fifth grader Annika Chakraborty composed the music. Under the guidance of LMSD@Home music teacher Colleen Holmes, Chakraborty was able to produce a mellifluous melody, which resulted in the wonderful new song, “LMSD is a Great Place to Be!”
Music Education at LMSD@Home
Music education and lessons at LMSD@Home are theme-based. To keep music “live” and to keep all LMSD@Home performers active, there are many optional extra credit challenges to either play, sing, read dramatically or compose. Students submit recordings on a daily basis and often come to "What I Need" (WIN) Time - a period in the afternoon similar to a college professor's office hours - if they would like to perform for other students and Mrs. Holmes. This often transforms WIN Time into a Pop-Up Concert!
This year, the fourth and fifth grade elementary musicians are being taught and supported by instrumental music staff members Mrs. McCarrick, Mrs. Burnick, Ms. Joseph, Ms. DiNenna and Ms. Gallagher. Middle school music students are also being supported with optional musical ensemble experiences with Bala Cynwyd Middle School band and orchestra teachers Mr. Homicz and Ms. Norris.
LMSD@Home’s most recent themed lessons focused on the life and works of iconic African-American composers and performers as part of the Black History Month curriculum. Lessons will continue to highlight other notable musicians and music through March’s Women’s History Month activities. In this same spirit, students have been challenged to study, sing and play songs representing a range of musical traditions from spirituals to pop. Under the guidance of Spanish teacher Mrs. Claussen, middle school students have also enhanced the morning announcements experience with premieres of their very own clever musical clips and jingles.
Another ongoing theme in music at LMSD@Home is the Get America Singing Again Initiative. Students have studied many songs as part of this national effort to teach the standards of American vocal literature. For example, there was a lesson on Louis Armstrong where students learned to sing “What a Wonderful World” and another highlighting Philadelphia’s own Patti LaBelle and her signature song from The Wizard of Oz, “Over the Rainbow."
The LMSD@Home music department's efforts have also been included in the monthly Storytime & Mindfulness Meetings sponsored by elementary Guidance Counselor Rebecca Wagner. Each meeting, Mrs. Wagner highlights a Habit of Mind, which is conveyed to students using outstanding children’s literature and mindfulness activities. Meetings start with a Get America Singing Song led by Mrs. Holmes and end with an art project led by art teacher Ms. Cassidy. More than 100 families have participated in this event each month.
Cross-curricular activities have included the design and development of creative musical instruments by innovative second grade students in Ms. Perna-Elias’ class; class talent shows; and a pair of virtual tours of the Museum of the American Revolution for fifth grade students, which serendipitously coincided with music lessons on the National Anthem. Fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Doran also sponsored an experience where fifth graders had the opportunity to virtually attend the Philadelphia Orchestra’s February Student Concert.
Looking forward to spring, LMSD@Home students will sing songs about this beautiful season of renewal, Earth Day and all of the patriotic holidays Americans celebrate as the weather gets warmer. As our fabulous student composers have written: LMSD@Home is a Great Place to Be!
BCMS students have been using Band Lab to create original compositions. Band Lab is an online digital audio workstation that allows students to write, record and edit their own compositions. This week, the Knights learned about the basic elements of song that include rhythm, harmony and melody. Take a look at these 15-second compositions written by our BCMS students!
Chrome Music Lab
Chrome Music Lab is an interactive site that allows students to learn about music and the science of sound through various experiments. Students have used a multitude of the experiments, but this week students focused on Chrome Song Maker. Take a look at these two compositions written by students using different elements of song structure!
Students have been learning about how music greatly impacts the mood and emotion in any cinematic media. Take a look these original compositions!
/uploaded/documents/Music/Genre_Presentation.pdfAs part of their Black History Month studies, students researched iconic African-American musicians, singers, performers and conductors before presenting their work to classmates. Check the presentations on Bessie Smith and Muddy Waters below!
Google has added a new instrument to its Chrome Music Lab: Song Maker. As the name implies, Song Maker is all about making songs. It’s essentially an easy to use sequencer that lets students draw melodies in the browser. Users get to choose between a few instruments like a piano, strings, woodwinds, a synth and a marimba. There’s also a small rhythm section that lets students add drums to their songs. Some of the more nifty features include the ability to attach a Midi keyboard to the computer to play the instruments and a recording feature that will translate singing into notes. Check out the "call and response" videos below made by students using Song Maker!
Music Genre Exploration Activity: Students in Mr. Eskin and Ms.Callaghan's classes recently chose a music genre to explore after learning all about the different musical genres. The presentation - a collaborative effort between Mr. Eskin, Ms. Callaghan, Mr. Gammarino and Mr. Bizich - can be accessed via the first image below. Students then gathered facts, representative music samples and concluded their slideshow presentations with a narrative self-reflection. Check out three of the student presentations below!
Theme and Variation: Students focused on the element of “Form” in music and had opportunity to demonstrate “Theme and Variation” by creating their own variations to familiar melodies in Song Maker. Check out two student-made videos below and see if you can guess the song!