Chatham Central School District has been honored with a Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.
The NAMM Foundation awards The Best Communities for Music Education designation to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in their efforts to provide music access and education to all students. Chatham’s music program qualified for this honor based on its funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs, as verified by school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
“In a year that has been far from normal, it is exciting to be acknowledged once again for the wonderful music and art programs that are an integral part of Chatham’s program. Congratulations to our wonderful and dedicated staff who continually pursue opportunities to enrich the lives of our students,” said Chatham’s superintendent of schools, Dr. Sal DeAngelo.
Chatham offers band, orchestra, and choral programs from elementary school through high school. The District’s music program enjoys a high level of student participation as well as support from parent and community groups such as the Chatham Fine Arts Booster Club, Chatham Alumni Association, and Chatham Education Foundation, among others. In addition, the music department was awarded a 2021 New York State Farm Teacher Assist grant to support its Empathy Project, in which students prepare a piece of music for an isolated person or group and perform it for them online.
This NAMM award recognizes that Chatham is leading the way with music learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This federal legislation, signed into law in 2015, designates music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children. Chatham has long held a strong commitment to music and the arts as part of its education program. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, music continues to provide a valuable way for students to stay engaged in school.
“COVID-19 has presented challenges that we have turned into opportunities,” said Kate Jarrard, an orchestra teacher at Chatham and the music department’s teacher leader. “We continue to provide students with instruction both in person and remotely, and are creating performance opportunities through projects that are recorded and shared with teachers, students and the greater community. Through music, we have focused on individual growth and social-emotional learning in order for students to make connections in life, their current situation, and their future.”
Research into music education demonstrates the educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music; researchers have found that participants show substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading, and are more likely to graduate high school and attend college. Musically trained students also enjoy stronger everyday listening skills, which 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; 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. Additional social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and the ability to give and receive constructive criticism.
2021 marks the sixth time that The NAMM Foundation has recognized Chatham CSD as a Best Community for Music Education.
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.