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GI Named Best Community for Music Education for Ninth Consecutive Year

2020 Best Communities for Music Education award The Grand Island Central School District has been honored with the "Best Communities for Music Education" designation from the National Association of Making Music (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. This marks the ninth consecutive year that Grand Island has received this honor.

Now in its 21st 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 the Best Communities designation, Grand Island answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities and support for the music programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

"The Grand Island community has had a decades-long tradition of supporting music for students,” said Martin T. Allen, High School Band director. "The music education of Grand Island’s students is a community effort with a phenomenal community, administrative and parental support. This level of support has been unwavering for over 50 years! This is truly an award for the entire community." 

This award recognizes that Grand Island is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 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, research 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. 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. 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 outlined the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum. 

Grand Island’s music department is recognized as an example of excellence in music education. The quality of education students receive from kindergarten through 12th grade is a source of pride for the community. Its ensembles (from elementary through high school) have been awarded New York State’s highest ratings at state evaluation festivals. Grand Island faculty members have presented clinics at state and national conferences and Grand Island is proud to support community events with music whenever possible.

Grand Island has long held a tradition of excellence in music education through the support of administrators, the Board of Education, and most importantly its community members. The excellence of the music department is evidenced by the large number of students participating in the various musical ensembles at all grade levels, and the large number of students selected to participate in ECMEA All-County, NYSSMA Area All-State, NYSSMA Conference All-State, NAfME National Conferences, Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra (GBYO), and other honors ensembles.

The music department actively participates in the Erie County Music Educators Association (ECMEA), the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the New York State Band Directors Association (NYSBDA), the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and the Buffalo Philharmonic Educational Concert Series.

About the NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, visit