Newtown Public School’s Music Program
Receives National Recognition
The Newtown Public Schools is one of 4% of school districts in nation to receive distinction
Newtown named a Best Community for Music for the 9th time
NEWTOWN, CT - April 17, 2017 –Newtown has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Newtown is one of 4% of districts across the nation receiving the prestigious award in 2017.
The Best Communities 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, Newtown 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.
"Having been associated with high performing K-12 music programs for decades our Newtown Public School student opportunity is clearly the bar that nearly all other districts strive to reach as we are blessed with terrific leaders and terrific students. I applaud long and loud the leadership of our director Michelle Hiscavich, her staff, and their talented young adults.", stated Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi.
This award recognizes that Newtown is leading the way with music learning opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation, signed into law in December 2015, and awaiting state implementation designates music and the arts as important elements of well-rounded education for all children.
As Newtown finalizes its 2017-2018 budget, The NAMM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education Award and the state level implementation of the federal ESSA law bring attention to the importance of keeping music education part of curriculum offerings and available to all students. It also highlights music’s vital role in students’ overall success in school and the personal benefits of making
Why is music education important? Here is what Newtown students feel about music:
“Music is a way to express our feelings.”
“Music is life.”
“Music is about art, expression and happiness.”
“The world would be boring without music.”
“Music teaches us how to be successful in life.”
“Music brings joy to the listeners. It also helps you express feelings and emotions. Music also can bring people
together. A world without music would be bad.”
“It’s creative and fun. And there’s so much to learn!”
And their teachers:
Hawley music teacher Brian Kowalsky, “Music education is important because music inspires children, music builds confidence, music allows children to express themselves, to communicate, and to give back to society.”
NHS Band Director Kurt Eckhardt, “Human beings have a basic need to express themselves. Music intimately connects people to their humanity and can express feelings that we did not even know we had.”
Tina Jones, Middle Gate music teacher, “Music education is one of the most wonderful gifts children can be given. The benefits of music education are many. In addition to music skills, music helps to develop social-emotional skills, creativity, teamwork, empathy, confidence, accomplishing goals, feeling successful, and of course, reading, language, math, history and so much more. A music class is a joyful, exciting, engaging and safe place for children to take risks, use their imaginations and put learning into their own hands. Music for some students may be the only place at school where they can feel joyful and able to express their feelings. Without music, life would be so lonely. It brings people together in every day conversations, entertainment, and overall happiness. I cannot imagine a world without music.”
Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University a link was found between students in community music programs and life-long academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. In another study
from the University it was discovered that the benefits of early exposure to music education improves how the brain processes and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood.
Beyond the Northwestern research, other studies have indicated that music education lays the foundation for individual excellence in group settings, creative problem solving and flexibility in work situations, as well learning how to give and receive constructive criticism to excel.
A 2015 study, “ Striking A Chord” supported by the NAMM Foundation, also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.
Nearly 70% of all students in grades pre-K-12 participate in the Newtown Public Schools music program. Curricular offerings follow the national and state standards for music education and include General Music, Chorus, Band, Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Improvisation, Music Technology, Harmony and Composition, and AP Music Theory. Many of those students also participate in extracurricular ensembles including Jazz Band, Marching Band, Honors Band, Bucket Band, annual musical productions, Chamber Orchestra, Honors Orchestra, Singers, Concert Choir, male and female a cappella groups, New Music Ensemble, Color Guard, Winter Guard, and Winter Drumline. 50 students were selected to participate in this year’s regional and state music festivals. Newtown’s program is recognized for its excellence through the CT High School Theater Awards, MAC and USBands Marching Band competitions (2016 MAC State Champions), WGI Color Guard Awards and various Jazz competitions. Many students take private lessons with professional musicians through the Visiting Artist Program. Younger students are benefiting from HEMMA (High School/Elementary School Music Mentoring Association) in which high school students tutor young children in beginning instrumental lessons and music theory skills. Music students frequently perform for school and community events and have traveled the world representing Newtown and making music. Our music teachers have been recognized in various capacities, including Newtown’s Teacher of the Year, serving as guest conductors in area music festivals, writing curriculum for the College Board and presenting at conferences. Over the years, many Newtown graduates have gone on to be composers, performers, music teachers, conductors, and music therapists.
Michelle Hiscavich, Newtown’s Director of Visual and Performing Arts, is “proud to have the hard work and efforts of the music teachers recognized and appreciates that the community recognizes the value of an education in the arts. Arts programs enable children to become well rounded individuals. In addition to developing the creative side of the brain, children are strengthening their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The music teachers are dedicated to the providing the best program possible for the children of Newtown and are creative and innovative in their approach. We are working to educate the audiences of tomorrow as well as the next generation of musicians.”
About The NAMM Foundation
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members around the world. Its mission is to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.