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HUSD’s Music Education Program Receives National Recognition
Posted 5/8/20

Hayward, CA – The Hayward 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 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, Hayward 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.

“One of the musical highlights in Hayward is the annual Band and Orchestra Festival that is jointly sponsored by the Hayward  Arts  Council and the HUSD. This event brings together all the middle and high school instrumental students of Hayward, who put on a fantastic  concert featuring performances by the massed bands and orchestras. The students experience the thrill of making music on a  scale not possible in their individual schools, and their parents are so proud to see how their students’ practice and cooperation can pay off in such a high-quality performance. The Festival is an amazing event to witness, and the enthusiasm expressed by the participants and their families is extremely gratifying.   It is clear that music—especially music for students—is very important to the residents of Hayward. The day after a Festival concert, a Hayward USD band director emailed: “The kids are talking about it today in class—how much fun it was and how  cool it sounded to them. THAT’s the major payoff!,” said Edward Keller, coordinator of the HUSD Band and Orchestra Festival and board member of Hayward Arts Council

This award recognizes that Hayward Unified 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 education allows an opportunity for students to experience life changing and memorable events they may not have otherwise. My students and I attend a San Francisco Symphony concert every year. Many of these students' first exposure to professional live performances happens here, a shared experience that I hope creates a life-long appreciation of the performing arts. Students learn skills that can be applied through various aspects of their lives.They learn about team building, critical thinking, leadership, and discipline. They travel, enjoy live performances, and are able to express themselves in ways not necessarily available to them in other classes,” expressed Patricia Hurtado, Tennyson High School Music Director.

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.