Fairfield’s music education program receives national recognition

Fairfield has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

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, Fairfield Public Schools’ Music Department 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.

This award recognizes that Fairfield 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 such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

As Fairfield finalizes its 2018-2019 budget, The NAMM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education Award and the state level implementation of the federal ESSA law bring attention to the importance of keeping music education part of curriculum offerings and available to all students. It also highlights music’s vital role in students’ overall success in school and the personal benefits of making music.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University a link was found between students in community music programs and life-long academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. In another study from the University, it was discovered that the benefits of early exposure to music education improves how the brain processes and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood.

Beyond the Northwestern research, other studies have indicated that music education lays the foundation for individual excellence in group settings, creative problem solving and flexibility in work situations, as well learning how to give and receive constructive criticism to excel.

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.

Fairfield’s Music Department prides itself on offering a variety of music courses to all students in grades K-12, with performing ensemble opportunities beginning in grade 4 with the strings program. As an elective program at both high schools, approximately 30% of students are enrolled! Fairfield currently has 1,353 students enrolled in band in grades 5-12, 2,551 students enrolled in choir in grades 5-12, and 1,503 students enrolled in the string program in grades 4-12.

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, visit www.nammfoundation.org.

A complete list of all districts may be found at https://www.nammfoundation.org/articles/2018districts

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