GPPSS is tops in music education, NAMM says
By Maria Allard
During a concert in June 2016, Grosse Pointe South senior Melba Dearing performs for the crowd. The National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM, based in Carlsbad, California, has named the Grosse Pointe Public School System as one of 14 school systems in the state that are among the Best Communities in the Nation for Music Education.
Posted April 12, 2017
GROSSE POINTES — The students and staff of the Grosse Pointe Public School System know how to make beautiful music.
The National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM, based in Carlsbad, California, has named the Grosse Pointe district as one of 14 school systems in the state that are among the Best Communities in the Nation for Music Education.
The awards program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the curriculum. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education.
“We have been awarding the Best Communities for Music Education for 18 years, and it is heartening to see how many parents and community members check to see if their schools have been recognized,” NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen said in a prepared statement. Luehrsen also is a professional musician and a former educator.
The 2017 Best Communities for Music Education designation takes on added significance this year with new research showing strong ties between K-12 students who actively participate in school music education programs and overall student success.
According to NAMM, music education has grown in importance because research has shown that participating in school music programs is associated with improved brain response in speech and reading.
“The links between student success and music education have now been demonstrated by brain researchers in multiple studies,” Luehrsen continued. “The schools and districts our foundation recognizes are building on that connection between music and academics. These schools and districts are models for other educators who see music as a key ingredient in a well-rounded curriculum that makes music available to all children, regardless of ZIP code.”
GPPSS Superintendent Gary Niehaus said in an email that earlier this year, district teachers Glen Hipple and Carolyn Gross applied for the distinction as a Best Community for Music Education 2017. To qualify, Hipple and Gross answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs.
“Grosse Pointe is proud to be one of only 14 districts in Michigan and 4 percent of school districts nationwide to be designated this year,” Niehaus said. “It was our first time applying and we are honored to be recognized, as it demonstrates our district’s commitment to educating the whole child.”
According to Niehaus, vocal education is offered to all elementary students, beginning with the district’s Young Fives and kindergarten classes. In addition, percussion and recorders also are part of the elementary vocal music program. Once GPPSS students enter the fifth grade, formal band and instrumental instruction are offered. Students who want to can continue with music once they reach middle school and high school.
“Many choir options are offered as electives in the secondary schools. Our middle and high school program of studies show the depth of options available for both vocal and instrumental music,” Niehaus said.
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its 10,300 members around the world. NAMM works to advance participation in music-making by supporting research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, visit www.nammfoundation.org.
About the author
Staff Writer Maria Allard covers the school districts of Center Line, Fitzgerald, Van Dyke, Warren Consolidated and Warren Woods, and Macomb Community College for the Warren Weekly newspaper. She also covers the City of Grosse Pointe Woods and the Grosse Pointe Public Schools System for the Grosse Pointe Times newspaper. Allard has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University, and she is in love with the Rolling Stones.
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