The Bryan and College Station school districts were among 81 in Texas recently named “Best Communities for Music Education” by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.
In total, 686 school districts in 40 states received the distinction from the NAMM Foundation.
Pat Corbett, fine arts director for the Bryan school district, said the honor is recognition of the support the district administrators, board members and community show the music — and all fine arts — programs and the value those stakeholders place on music education.
“We’re serving our children well by providing quality music education for our students,” he said.
Corbett said he is proud of the teachers for making it possible for students to have access to music education in the pandemic and still perform.
Even as resources were stretched this year, he said, “the value of music education from our board of trustees and superintendent never wavered.”
Eric Eaks, fine arts director for the College Station school district, called the recognition an “outstanding” honor and places the district as an example for music education standards on a state and national level.
“It is proof that the decisions, expectations, curriculum and overall standards we have for our fine arts organizations are appropriate and set at a high level,” Eaks wrote in an email. “This will enhance the student experience and provide lifelong educational benefits that will be with the students for the rest of their lives.”
Bryan and College Station music ensembles hosted live performances together throughout the past year, Corbett said, saying the biggest thing for him was to give students the chance to perform.
“To me, as a former professional musician, nothing takes the place of a live audience,” he said.
Even though the majority of the students will not go on to become professional musicians, actors or artists, he said, the skills they learn through the fine arts programs apply to all careers.
“It’s so important for a student to walk into a band class and have to sit and make music with 30 to 60 other people, and everybody has to work together and make music,” he said. “That’s a level of teamwork that doesn’t occur anywhere else. And they’re also doing something that’s incredibly difficult, which is playing a musical instrument, and doing it in sync. … All those things are important life lessons and life skills that they can take throughout their life.”
Throughout the past year, Corbett said, he thinks the students have gotten more joy out of their music classes than ever before.
The distinction as one of the best communities for music education comes after an “extensive” application, Corbett said.
Eaks said College Station sent in the in-depth application in January.
The applications cover all aspects of the program, from funding to access for students, facilities and participation.
Corbett said it even asks whether board members and upper-level administrators attend performances, which he said he can answer with yes.
“That goes back to the support of our board of trustees to make sure that when campuses are built, [they] are they being built with music education in mind,” he said.