Three Ellis County school districts have been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for outstanding commitment to music education.

This is the seventh consecutive year Red Oak ISD has received this honor and the sixth for Waxahachie ISD. It is, however, the first for Midlothian ISD.

"Our teachers work tirelessly to provide opportunities for developing the whole child through immersive, integrated arts experiences,” said Midlothian ISD superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter. “Through our enriching fine arts programs from kindergarten through high school, our students learn to be emotionally expressive through participating in our strong MISD Fine Arts offerings and this recognition is reflective or our outstanding teachers and programs.”

Now in its 20th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for this designation, districts answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music programs, Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“This award is a testament to the value Red Oak ISD and our fine arts educators put on providing music education. Not only are we providing a high-level of music instruction, but we have both program depth and width – offering music education for all students and in a variety of choices,” Red Oak ISD superintendent Dr. Michael Goddard stated. “We know students who are engaged in fine arts are more engaged in their academics as well. We thank the NAMM Foundation for recognizing and celebrating Red Oak ISD with this award.”

In its first year as a 6A district, the Spirit of Waxahachie Indian Marching Band placed 12th at the state competition. In addition, the Waxahachie High School band was selected as the 2018 TMEA 5A honor band, which is one of the most prestigious honors a band can receive.

“We are proud of our music education programs throughout the district, and are excited to once again receive this prestigious recognition,” Waxahachie ISD interim superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain said. “Research shows that participation in music programs enhances students’ academic performance, and the programs we have in Waxahachie ISD are top-notch.”

This award recognizes that Waxahachie ISD is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. After two years of music education, the research found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores that 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.

Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically-trained children that 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; 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.

A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation, “Striking A Chord,” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.