Skaneateles’ Music Education Program Receives National Recognition
The Skaneateles Central School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. It’s the 12th time the district has achieved the recognition.
Now in its 24th 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, Skaneateles 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.
“We are so proud of our talented students and amazing teachers that make this level of excellence and professionalism possible at the high school level,” Skaneateles Superintendent Eric Knuth said. “This all begins in our earliest grades at Skaneateles where our teachers instill a love of music and performance in our students. We are so fortunate to have such incredible local community support with organizations like the Skaneateles Music Guild working to create and sustain these opportunities for our students.”
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.
"Music education is vital because it helps to educate the whole child and gives students a way to express themselves and make connections with the world around them,” High School Choral/Vocal Director & Music Theory Teacher Paige Williams said. “Here in Skaneateles, the general music classes, bands, choirs, orchestras, drama productions, music and production technology classes, Tri-M Music Honor Society, student-run a cappella and bell choir groups, supportive parents and administration, a dedicated Music Guild led by Taryn Jirousek, and a newly-renovated auditorium managed by Brian Franco all help us come in every day and make music with these hard-working and talented kids."
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. In addition, 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.
"The experience I've had in our music program at Skaneateles has been great and has shaped who I am,” said senior Cade Lamphere, who plans to attend the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam next year. “I am going into music education because I would like to give other kids the opportunities I have had. The importance of music education can't be overstated as it has guided me to my career path and has given me some of my favorite moments in high school."
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its 15,000 member companies and individual professionals. 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.