The Budget: World Class Music for Every Student

The Board of Education approved the 2014-15 budget request on April 8. It calls for a $32.5 million increase over last year. That increase includes $17.3 million in required spending like inflation and payouts to charter schools. The rest is made up of strategic priorities to improve instruction in our classrooms.

  • Budget Item: Music Makes Us
  • Investment: $723,400

by Laurie Schell, Director of Music Makes Us

Springtime in Nashville – flowering pear trees, red maple, dogwood in bloom. And music in our schools. Lots of it.

A joint effort of Metro Schools, Mayor Karl Dean and music industry and community leaders, the Music Makes Us initiative is quickly becoming a presence in the community because of the community. We are becoming a district known for its world class music education thanks to the leadership of Mayor Karl Dean, Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register, the Music Makes Us Advisory Council members and the Nashville music and arts community.

Just a sampling of this spring’s musical endeavors shows how far we’ve come:

  • East Nashville Magnet School Choir working a gig with Ben Folds.
  • Meigs Magnet Middle School Wind Ensemble performing at the annual Tennessee Music Education Association Convention.
  • Mariachi Internacional de Nashville from Glencliff High School performing at the GRAMMY Block Party.
  • Disney Musicals in the Schools in partnership with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in 15 schools serving elementary, middle and special needs students.
  • ASCAP songwriters teaching their craft at Hillwood, Overton and Nashville School of the Arts High Schools.

Music education is part of the big picture. A recent research study called Prelude: Music Makes Us Baseline Research Report (2013) shows music participation in Metro Schools has important direct and indirect effects on school engagement and academic achievement. Music participation makes a significant, positive difference in student attendance, discipline, grades, graduation rates and test scores. Overall, the more a student participates in music, the more positive these benefits become.

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Proof the Music Makes Us is making a difference: Watch the inspiring story of Rex Yape and his incredible talent.

For Metro students, music is the language of opportunity and access. Founding donors and key partners, including Martha Ingram, Gibson Guitars, Big Machine, Curb Records, Warner Music Nashville, Little Kids Rock and KHS America have enabled us to launch signature contemporary programs that engage more students in making music. Of the 40 new contemporary classes added in middle and high schools, the mariachi, world percussion, songwriting and hip hop classes in particular are reaching students outside of traditional music. Some students are recent immigrants, with limited English proficiency. Some see the contemporary classes as more accessible for those with little prior musical experience. All are gaining valuable skills and knowledge.

Programs are still growing. The Country Music Association Foundation’s Keep the Music Playing program in Metro Schools is creating lasting impact, with their $7 million contribution over the past 7 years. The new instruments have enabled our chorus, band and orchestra programs to reach new heights of musical achievement. This is reflected in the 16% increase in the number of ensembles participating in Concert Performance Assessment in 2013 and in their improved rating. 69% improved their overall rating or remained at the superior level for 2 consecutive years.

We aren’t just blowing our own horn. It’s official! The NAMM Foundation recognizes Metro Nashville Public Schools for its outstanding commitment to music education with a Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) designation. Metro Schools joins 376 districts across the country to receive the prestigious distinction in 2014. In its 15th year, Best Communities for Music Education affirms school districts that have demonstrated exceptional efforts toward maintaining music education as part of the schools’ core curriculum.

Music is in the air.

For more information, visit http://musicmakesus.org.

Read More in the Budget Series:
Part 1 – Prekindergarten
Part 2 – Teacher and Staff Pay Raises
Part 3 – Technology and Training
Part 4 – Literacy
Part 5 – World Class Music Education for Every Student

Metro Schools officials have a budget hearing with the Metro Council scheduled for June 4 at 4:15 p.m. in the Council Chambers. Wear blue to show your support for Metro Schools.

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Music classes for all: Nashville is a leader in music education

Music Makes Us“Within the next three years, all Kindergarten through Grade 12 students in Metro Schools will have opportunities to participate in high quality music instruction…”

In a strong move signaling to the rest of the country the Music City is a leader in arts education, the Board of Education adopted a lengthy resolution not only acknowledging the vital importance of music education, but also commmiting to expanding it.

The resolution was approved Tuesday, January 8. It recognizes the part music education plays in improved test scores, graduation rates and closing the achievement gap. But perhaps more importantly, it also recognizes the other, harder to measure impact music education can have.

…multiple research studies make clear that students who participate in a rigorous, sequential, standards-based visual and performing arts education develop the ability to innovate, communicate, and collaborate…

…such music education in schools improves test scores, increases graduation rates and helps close achievement gaps among student groups…

…research shows music enhances cognitive development in many areas, including verbal skills and social emotional learning…

…research indicates low income students with in-depth music and arts involvement earn better grades, are more likely to attend college, develop greater self esteem and are more engaged in civic affairs…

Read the full resolution

So what will Metro Schools do with all of these facts and this recognition?

Music instruction for all students in all grades.

The act wasn’t merely symbolic. It was a distinct recognition of the Music Makes Us program and the work it does. Going even further than that, it was a commitment to stick with the program, expand it and support it whatever ways possible.

Music Makes Us is a collaboration between Metro Schools, the Mayor’s Office, and mutliple groups in the community and the music industry. It strives to increase the quality and quantity of music education in our schools with classes that are tied to rigorous academic standards and a more modern approach to music classes.

Learn more about Music Makes Us

The arts play a vital role in academic success, and we are proud to have this renewed commitment as set of guiding principals for music education.