Music Rules at Suffield Schools

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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 for the second year in a row. Now in its 25th 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. In 2024, the Best Communities in Music Education designation was given to 36 school districts in Connecticut and 975 nationally.

“Music education provides students with a sense of belonging, shared experiences, and opportunity for self-expression,” said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Michelle Zawawi. “Our students as well as our entire community have benefited from SPS’ strong and creative music program. As an administrator, I have watched our students thrive in the music program. Specifically, I have noticed so many of our very talented musicians blossoming with self-confidence, language and memory skills, math skills as well as their collaborative skills. It is always a joy to attend the concerts and performances to see not only the students’ performances but to see their parents, grandparents and guardians beaming with pride.”

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.

“The band is a community where we can all share in the same experience and engage in the musical process, which has led to the formation of life-long friendships”, said Kam Aldridge, sophomore clarinet player.

Michaela Head, 9th grade Concert Choir member says, “Chorus is a place where I can express myself without judgment, and can have a lot of fun with my friends.”

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. Not to mention, 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. 42% 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 2000 students.

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