‘Music in our schools’

Warwick Valley recognized as one of the ‘Best Communities for Music Education’ in the country

The Warwick Valley School District has been recognized for its commitment to music education with a national Best Communities for Music Education designation. Pictured here are musicians who volunteered to provide music at the high schoolþÄôs recent Empty Bowls fund raiser. There are more than 700 students from grades four through twelve who participate in band or orchestra activities.

The Warwick Valley School District has been recognized for its commitment to music education with a national Best Communities for Music Education designation. Pictured here are musicians who volunteered to provide music at the high schoolþÄôs recent Empty Bowls fund raiser. There are more than 700 students from grades four through twelve who participate in band or orchestra activities.

A nonprofit foundation whose goal is to advance “active participation in music-making across the lifespan” has recognized the Warwick Valley School District as one of the nation’s “Best Communities for Music Education.”The Warwick Valley School District has been recognized for its commitment to music education with a national “Best Communities for Music Education” designation. Pictured here are musicians who volunteered to provide music at the high school’s recent Empty Bowls fund raiser. There are more than 700 students from grades four through twelve who participate in band or orchestra activities.the Warwick Valley Central School District for its outstanding commitment to music education with a “Best Communities for Music Education” designation.  The Warwick Valley Central School District joins 307 districts across the country to receive the prestigious distinction this year, out of nearly 2,000 districts that completed a detailed questionnaire.

The BCME survey requires districts to answer detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instructional time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs.  Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas, and affiliate of the University of Kansas.

In its 14th year, Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) recognizes school districts that have demonstrated exceptional efforts toward maintaining music education as part of the schools’ core curriculum.

Warwick’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Services, Dr. Marijane Reinhard, said, “There is a High School music course called ‘Music in Our Lives’.  Those four words sum up how the Warwick community; teachers, administrators, students and parents, feel about music.  It is a part of our lives and will always be.”

“Receiving the NAMM Award,” Dr. Reinhard added, “validates the talent and passion our music teachers have for their craft, as well as the hard work of our students and the commitment our community has toward music in our schools.  We are very proud of receiving this award as it reaffirms our convictions that a strong music program goes hand in hand with a strong school district.”

As the Warwick Valley Central School District finalizes its 2013-14 budget, the announcement of this year’s Best Communities for Music Education designation brings attention to the importance of keeping music education part of the district’s core education and the fundamental role of music in student success.

The BCME designation is an important part of the NAMM Foundation’s efforts to advocate for school-based music education. Numerous studies have demonstrated that learning to play music can boost other academic and social skills, such as math and learning to cooperate in a group. The skills gained through sequential music instruction, including discipline and the ability to analyze, solve problems, communicate and work cooperatively, are vital for success in the 21st century workplace.

The Warwick Valley Central School District offers comprehensive, sequential music instruction for grades K-12. General Music (classroom music) is offered at every grade level and students have the opportunity to learn to play or sing in the band, chorus and orchestra. Many students compete and perform with county and state honors ensembles and continue their studies after high school, many choosing to major in music in college.

“When I first started teaching music in the Warwick Valley Central School District 18 years ago, music was on a cart at the elementary schools, the band program was struggling to survive, and there were students participating in chorus and general music.” says Warwick Valley High School Orchestra Director Keely Gould Blaikner.  “There is now an orchestra program grades 4-12 with over 350 students participating, the band program is very strong with over 350 students participating in grades 4-12, the general music program has a well-defined curriculum offered to grades k-12, the choral program is offered to students grades 4-12, and there are so many music electives that are available for students at the Middle and High School level that were never offered before.”

“None of this happens overnight,” Gould Blaikner continues.  “It has taken years to build the program into what it is today.  The dedicated and talented music teachers in our schools, the students, the support of the parents, the talented music community in Warwick, the support of the Board of Education and the school leadership, have all played an integral part in making music education in our schools an important part of the curriculum in the Warwick Valley Central School District.”

The dedicated music teachers of the Warwick Valley Central School District deserve special recognition for this award.  They are:  Melinda Kessler, Alison Henry, Tamara Moser, Ashley Head, Peter Van De Water, Elissa Jones-Leonard, Nicole Redeker, Katherine Terry, Paul Myruski, Ryan Muehlbauer, Christy Brown, Noreen Hanson, Kelly McGinn, Chris Persad and Keely Gould Blaikner.

The music program is just one of the many successful programs that the school district offers and supports.   This award solidifies that fact; the community values music education in our schools.

According to NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen, the Best Communities for Music Education program is the bellwether of rising endorsement for this vital cause.  “There is overwhelming research tying music education to higher overall student success in school and in life,” she said.  “This designation recognizes communities for their commitment to music education and strengthens support for these programs.  Having widely embraced the evidence indicating that music education yields great things in schools and communities, people are increasingly affirmative, advocating for school music curricula, and championing programs like Best Communities that recognize this commitment to music education.

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit organization with the mission of advancing active participation in music-making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs from the international music products industry.  For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.

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