Cranston Public Schools received the designation of Best Communities for Music Education 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 for all students. Cranston is the only school district in the state to receive this designation.
To qualify for the Top Communities designation, Cranston Public Schools answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class attendance, instruction time, facilities, support music program and community music creation programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by the University of Kansas Music Research Institute.
“Music education is an important part of Cranston Public Schools,” Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse said. “We offer a wide range of opportunities for our students who are interested in music and our students are often recognized for their musical talents and abilities. It is thanks to the hard work and dedication of our music teachers at all levels that we are able to have such a strong music program in our school district. Receiving the Best Community for Music Education designation only reinforces the value we place on music in our schools.
Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 and the emphasis on comprehensive education, many school districts have recommitted to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs have been a vital part of keeping students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for comprehensive educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Achievement and Achievement Scholarships. NAMM Foundation research has found that these grants are widely used by school districts to bridge the pedagogical gaps in access to music and arts education.
Music Program Director Emily Johnson spoke about the importance of music education.
“Music education is such an integral part of child development that it helps develop a sense of self and creates a safe community where students learn to grow and work collaboratively,” she said. “I am so proud of the depth and breadth of offerings we provide our students here at Cranston Public Schools, from our general kindergarten music to our high school ensembles. It is such an honor to be recognized nationally by the NAMM Foundation, not only for the hard work and dedication of our music staff and students, but also for the support we receive from the Cranston community.
When asked about the impact music education has had on their lives, several Cranston Public School students shared the difference it has made for them.
“Musical education is important to me because it allowed me to discover a passion that I didn’t know I had. Being involved in the music program has shaped the person I have become in a major way,” said Cranston High School East senior Bobby Miller III.
“Music education has been important to me because it teaches me about teamwork,” said Cranston East freshman Liam DeRosa. The connection you feel with the other musicians around you, and learning to support them both through the music you play and as friends and colleagues is always very interesting, and that makes music one of the most vital elements of my life.”
“Music education is important because it allows me to convey my emotions to anyone and everyone without the need for words,” said Cranston West freshman Amy Zhang.
Music education research continues to demonstrate the educational/cognitive and social benefits of children making music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how 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 from high school, but also go on to college. Daily listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those who are not musically trained. Significantly, listening skills are closely related to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy environment, pay attention and remember sounds. Later in life, people who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who haven’t played an instrument in 50 years show improved 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 NAMM Foundation is a non-profit organization supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members worldwide. The foundation advances active participation in musical creation throughout life by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.