LIVINGSTON, NJ — For the fifth consecutive year, Livingston Public Schools (LPS) 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 22nd 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, LPS 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.

Mara Rubin, PreK-12 Supervisor of Visual and Performing Arts at LPS, stated that this designation celebrates the Livingston district’s “commitment to music education” as well as the dedication of LPS music teachers, administrators, students, parents, board of education and community members “to a comprehensive K-12 music education for all students.”

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“We are very proud to receive this award, as it reaffirms our convictions that a strong music program goes hand in hand with a successful school district,” said Rubin. “Receiving the Best Communities for Music Education Award validates our music teachers’ talents and passion as well as the hard work of our students and the commitment of our community to music in our schools.”

Rubin added that receiving this designation is especially significant for the 2020-2021 school year because it not only highlights the district's strong belief in providing music to all students, but also celebrates the “innovation and perseverance of [LPS] music teachers who have ensured that all students have been able to continue to receive high-quality music instruction—even when faced with obstacles.”

“Over this past year, we have discovered that music is even more important for our students and families now during these uncertain times in which we are living because music helps to keep communities together,” said Rubin. “We have been reminded that music creates a sense of belonging and participation, enhancing our community connections and building our community's spirit.” 

Since the 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) through Congress and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs and found that in this time of a national pandemic, provides a valuable way to keep 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.

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 to attend college as well.

Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. According to the NAMM Foundation, listening skills are also 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 at a young age show stronger neural processing of sound. Additionally, 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, according to the NAMM Foundation. Social benefits of music education also include conflict resolution, teamwork skills and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

For more information about The NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit supported in part by the NAMM that works to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs, visit www.nammfoundation.org.