Santa Barbara Unified School District Music Education Program Receives National Recognition Five Years in a Row

Santa Barbara Unified School District Music Education Program Receives National Recognition Five Years in a Row.

San Marcos High School MadrigalsSanta Barbara Unified School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 20th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Santa Barbara Unified School District 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.

“Santa Barbara Unified School District’s strong commitment to music education is evident in the depth of programming available to students from kindergarten through twelfth grade,” said Kim Hoj, Coordinator of Special Programs. “Receiving the NAMM recognition for this fifth year reminds us to reflect upon the legacy of educators such as the late Ike Jenkins who invested their lives to build a love of music within the children of our community. Our district is proud of prioritizing music education as a vibrant part of our schools today.”

This award recognizes that the Santa Barbara Unified School District 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.

“Music is magical and transformational. It builds life-long relationships, smarter brains, and self-confidence,” said Jeff Peterson, Goleta Valley Junior High School music teacher.

McKinley Elementary Music teacher Karen Dutton stated: “I am honored to work with a team of incredible music educators and community partners who believe music education is essential to developing the whole child. Together we are able to provide culturally rich opportunities and inspire students to meet future challenges through creativity, collaboration, and positive life-changing experiences.”

“Many students look to their music classes for a sense of stability, others look to them as gathering places for friends and family, some….attain a true sense of self-efficacy through their musical achievements, and the majority gather all the aforementioned treasures and more,” commented Dylan Aguilera, Santa Barbara High School music teacher.

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

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. After two years of music education, 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 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.