2021 Best Communities for Music Education
2021 Best Communities for Music Education
Posted on 04/20/2021
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Ridgewood Public Schools has been named one of the Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation, recognizing commitment and support to music education and the benefits it offers students! This distinction was awarded to 686 Districts! 

Thank you to all the administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community members for your support of music education!


April 20, 2021

’s Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

RIDGEWOOD, NJRidgewood Public Schools 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 22nd 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, the District answered detailed 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 are thrilled to have once again received this designation from The NAMM Foundation. While this year is not what we all hoped it would be, I feel both optimistic and confident in the resiliency of our passions and the future of our music program,” said Chris McCullough, supervisor of fine and applied arts. “Although live music has suffered a setback, it is clear to me its importance has only grown. When this period of separation is over, I can’t wait to feel the warm embrace of live music and the shared experience of being together, as we welcome back a brighter future.” 

Since the passage by Congress in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs and found that in this time of a national pandemic, provides a valuable way to keep students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.

This has been a year of improvisation,” said Deborah Gregory-Fink, general music teacher at Hawes Elementary School. “The RPS music faculty have pursed music making and the traditions of music learning through dedication and innovation. Students have had the opportunity to learn and perform under extraordinary circumstances. Through all of this, our school families and the community and have continued to experience the vital connection that music in our Village has always provided.

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

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, please visit