EAST MARLBOROUGH — Unionville-Chadds Ford School District 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 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, Unionville-Chadds Ford 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 honored to receive this prestigious designation from the NAMM Foundation,” stated Dr. John Sanville, Superintendent. “Our teachers are some of the best and have created programs at each of our schools and at every level that provide exceptional musical opportunities to learn and perform. Our students have earned several musical accolades for their talents and student involvement in our music programs overall has never been greater! This can only be attributed to our passionate teachers and their work to provide a meaningful and quality music program at UCFSD.”
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.
Madeleine Day, a junior involved in the music program at Unionville High School shared, “To me, music education is incredibly important because it exposes students to music early on so that they can develop a well rounded education. Students in our district are given the opportunity to express themselves creatively and build their self esteem through something they are passionate about. At a young age in elementary school we were exposed to numerous instruments and singing styles. This helped my appreciation and love for music grow. I am eternally grateful for our district’s music department and it has truly changed my life.”
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.
“Students have an innumerable amount of experiences if they pursue music,” stated Mr. Eddie Otto, Unionville High School Band Director. “There are studies that show test scores improve with participation in ensembles, that music is one of the only subjects that engages both sides of the brain at a high level, or that participation in music helps to get into college, but music can be so much more than that to a person. Students may find a lifelong passion, friendships and memories in the pursuit of music. They develop leadership, a mature work ethic, social skills, time management skills, teamwork skills, etc. the list goes on and on. There is no bench in music and every part is equally important. Every participant is equally important and students experience the performance and emotions of music while also providing it for an audience. That is pretty indescribable and I am incredibly lucky to be able to be a small part of that experience for our kids at Unionville-Chadds Ford.”