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RCPS named a "Best Community for Music Education" for 18th year since 2002

2022 best communities for music educationThe NAMM Foundation has again recognized Roanoke County Public Schools for its outstanding commitment to music education with a Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) designation for the 18th year (2002-2004, 2006, 2008-2019, 2021-2022).  

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, Roanoke County Public Schools answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music programs, Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“Our students are learning from some of the best performing arts teachers in the state.  The school board is committed to providing our students with many opportunities to experience all forms of fine arts,” said Roanoke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely.  “We’re very fortunate that the school board is dedicated to supporting our fine arts programs, and this ongoing recognition is continued evidence of that support,” Dr. Nicely added.

Since the passage by Congress in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs and found that in this time of a national pandemic, provides a valuable way to keep 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.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. After two years of music education, research found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores that 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 that 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.