SPS Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

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Suffield Public Schools has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. 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, Suffield Public Schools 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 grateful to our music educators and the community of Suffield for their continued development and support of music education programming across the district.

“This NAMM Foundation Best Communities for Music Education designation recognition is a tremendous honor that serves as another reminder of the commitment, dedication, and quality of education that exists within the Suffield Public Schools,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Timothy Van Tasel.

“To me, music is about being part of a community,” said junior Milo Graham, who performed as Gomez in Suffield High School’s 2023 production of The Addams Family and is a current guitar student. “Being able to work individually and come back together to create a show is truly a rewarding experience.”

“Music draws out our emotions and tells a story,” said Dan Gleason, junior tuba player.

“Music is important because it is a beautiful way for students to express themselves,” said KathyJo Percoski, sophomore trombone player. “Our music teachers make it enjoyable and easy for me to express myself through music. I greatly appreciate everything they do.”

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. Social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

Suffield Public Schools offers music instruction at all grade levels in a variety of courses that engage students in meaningful and diverse musical experiences. Forty-two percent of students in grades 4-12 participate in either band or chorus. In addition to traditional performing ensembles, courses are offered in music composition, audio production, guitar, piano, ukulele and the History of American Music and Popular Culture. Suffield Public Schools serves approximately 2025 students.

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