LIVINGSTON, NJ — For the fourth consecutive year, Livingston Public Schools has been honored with the “Best Communities for Music Education” designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

The NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. For 21 years, the nonprofit organization has been awarding “Best Communities for Music Education” designations to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

In order to qualify, LPS answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities and support for the music programs. The responses to those questions were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

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This award recognizes that LPS 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. 

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music, according to The NAMM Foundation. After two years of music education, research found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college.

According to The NAMM Foundation, everyday listening skills are also stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. 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, according to the foundation, which states that young adults as well as older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers.

There are also social benefits to music education, such as conflict resolution, teamwork skills and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

Earlier this week, LPS shared a 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation called “Striking A Chord,” which outlines an overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.