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Kingsport City Schools music education program receives national recognition

Community Contributor Mary Beth McLain • Updated Apr 3, 2019 at 12:34 PM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport City Schools (KCS) has once again been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) designation from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

From more than 13,500 school districts in the United States, 623 were selected for the 2019 BCME award.

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

“Kingsport City Schools has held a long tradition of excellence in music education, with consistent, ongoing, and purposeful improvements and expansions through the years." said Dobyns-Bennett High School Assistant Principal and KCS Secondary Arts Supervisor Richard Brown. "This tradition is most evident through our outstanding and nationally competitive high school bands, orchestras and choirs, supported by exemplary elementary school and middle school music programs. The greater Kingsport community recognizes the value of music education for all students. We are pleased to receive this award in response to our city’s commitment to music education.”

The excellence and progress of the KCS music department are led by teachers Willinda Charumuka, Rachel Cinnamon, Lafe Cook, Patty Denmark, Aaron Farmer, Ryan Gilbert, Annie Griffith, Turner Hawkins, Kristian Hefner, Kim Hutchison, Debbie Johnson, Sandra Kerney, Carole Makowski, Angela Miller, Hunter Mullins, Jenny Rogers, Shauna Slemp, Connie Treadway, Seth Wallingford and Rachel Zollinger.

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

For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.

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