Goshen Schools' music education program receives national honor

John Kline, Goshen News, Ind.
·4 min read

Apr. 15—Goshen Community Schools was honored this month with the 2021 Best Communities for Music Education designation from The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for the district's outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 22nd year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to school districts nationwide that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

Lori Martin, director of communications for GCS, noted that in order to qualify for the Best Communities designation, GCS music educators 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 then verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

"Goshen Community Schools has a long, rich tradition of music education and we are proud to share this award with our students, staff, and the community," GHS Band Director Tom Cox said of the award. "GCS music departments have long been recognized by local, state, and national judges as having top-notch music ensembles. Goshen's programs provide excellent training for students who may wish to study music as a career, or for those who simply enjoy music and want to participate in the arts. No matter the level of participation in GCS music, all students benefit academically from the music choices offered by Goshen Schools."

According to Martin, 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," Martin noted. "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," Martin added. "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."

Acknowledging the music award, GCS Superintendent Steve Hope noted that Goshen Community Schools, and the Goshen community as a whole, have long been synonymous with the arts.

"The arts are valued in this community and a quality education is rooted in the arts," Hope said. "It is no surprise that Goshen has been nominated as a 'Best Community for Music Education.'

"Goshen Community Schools offers a comprehensive K-12 music education program with opportunities that cannot be matched. Music education not only feeds our passion and gives us a lifelong enjoyment, it also helps with all cognitive and social-emotional development.

"Music education helps develop language, reasoning, memorization, coordination, pattern recognition, auditory skills, imagination, creative thinking and teamwork," Hope added. "There is no doubt that music education is both classical education, informing us of our past, as well as a key skill for creative problem-solving preparing students for the demands of an ever-changing, creative economy."

Since the 2015 passage by Congress of the Every Student Succeeds Act 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, music provides a valuable way to keep students engaged in school, Martin explained.

As part of its core mission, ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. Martin noted that NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts across the country to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.

"Goshen Community Schools offers general music education to all elementary students, and secondary students may choose from band, orchestra and choir," Martin said of the district. "Secondary students may also choose to participate in optional classes or extracurriculars such as Jazz Band, Men's Choir, Concert Orchestra, Advanced Chorale, Crimson Marching Band, Goshen Winter Percussion, Crimsonaires, Goshen Winter Guard, Crimson Chorus, musical productions at both GHS and GMS, Concert Band, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Strings and more. Students may choose to participate in as many music options as their interests and schedules allow."