The Van Buren 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 districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide instrumental music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, The school district answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, instrumental music participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the instrumental music program, awards and accomplishments, and community music-making programs.

Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas. This is the 5th time the Van Buren School District has been awarded the Best Communities for Music Education designation.

Instrumental Music Supervisor for the Van Buren School District, Mr. Ron Smith had these words of praise for the Van Buren Instrumental Music Program. “It’s been a historic year for the entire Van Buren Band Program from grade 6 through 12. We have record numbers of students enrolled in the band program, we’ve won back to back state marching championships, our Van Buren High School Symphonic Band was recently chosen as the 2020 Arkansas All State Music Conference Honor Performance Ensemble, our Van Buren High School Freshman Academy Band won the Worlds of Fun Invitational Concert Band Competition in Kansas City, not to mention a school record number of All Conference and All State team members and a quarter of a million dollars in college band scholarships awarded to our Van Buren Band Senior class.

He continued, "The Best Communities for Music Education designation is just another affirmation of the incredible things that the students and staff of the Van Buren Instrumental Music Program are doing to promote the importance and necessity of music education within our state and community.”

This award recognizes that The Van Buren 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 instrumental music.

ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

Van Buren Band parent Mrs. Selina Myer had this statement concerning the necessity of instrumental music education. “Music education in Van Buren is important because it teaches our children the value of teamwork and that success comes through hard work and dedication. It also builds skills in memorization, imagination, coordination, discipline, and a sense of achievement. Music is a gateway to our children’s future. The skills and values they learn can be applied to everyday life.”

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 that 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.