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Orono Schools has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its commitment to music education.
The designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. Of the 583 districts spotlighted nationwide, only eight were in Minnesota.
To qualify for the designation, Orono High School band instructor Tim Arnold prepared the nomination that asked detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
“Music education is so important to our district,” said Dr. Karen Orcutt, superintendent of Schools. “Research of music education demonstrates both educational and social skill benefits for children. While individuals and groups have received honors for their musical accomplishments in the past,” she added, “it is affirming and exciting to be recognized for our districtwide commitment to music education.”
In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University, a link was found between students in community music programs and lifelong academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. In another study by the university, it was discovered that the benefits of early exposure to music improved how the brain processes and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood.
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 as learning how to give and receive constructive criticism to excel.