DELAVAN—For the third time in four years, the Delavan-Darien School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.
Delavan-Darien is one of just 4 percent of districts across the nation receiving the award in 2017. It is one of just 23 districts in Wisconsin to receive the honor, given to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.
“These districts and schools set the bar in offering students access to comprehensive music education,” according to the NAMM website.
The district earned the award in 2014, 2016 and 2017. It did not apply for the award in 2015.
To qualify for the best communities designation, Delavan-Darien music staff answered 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.
“We have what I believe is an extraordinarily high percentage of students who choose to be involved in music for a district of our size,” said district strings director Jennifer Bayerl. “Students choose to participate because we have great teachers, courses and co-curricular opportunities at all levels. Our community supports what we do and, as a teacher, that means so much to me.
“The NAMM award recognizes that our community is behind us and proud of what our Delavan-Darien music student achieve.”
The award recognizes that the Delavan-Darien School District is complying with music learning opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation, signed into law in December 2015, and awaiting state implementation, designates music and the arts as important elements of well-rounded education for all children.
Delavan-Darien offers general music for all elementary school grades, string instrument instruction starting in fourth grade, band and percussion instrument instruction, and a variety of choir, orchestra and band courses for middle and high school students.
At DDHS alone, there are four different choir levels, a guitar and percussion ensembles, an African drumming course, marching and symphonic bands, jazz bands, various levels of orchestra and a symphonic winds course. Additionally, students can study music history, the history of rock ‘n roll, and earn Advanced Placement credit in a music theory class. Middle school students have access to a MIDI piano lab, and elementary school students participate annually in performances by Opera For The Young.
The district’s music program supports a strong theater arts program, and all schools also have multiple public performances annually, both in the schools and out in the community.
DDHS Senior Makenzie Gordon says that music in her school day is valuable because, “it is a positive social environment that can help someone make friends and making music can help person cope with negative emotions. And, being in music opens up opportunities for college and scholarships.”
Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University, a link was found between students in community music programs and life-long academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. The study showed that participation in music education programs helps improves brain function, discipline and language development.
“Studying music has intrinsic benefits and on its own, is core to learning,” said Mary Luehrsen, executive director of The NAMM Foundation. “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.”