by Stefanie Sears
For the fourth year in a row, the Madison School District has received the honor of being named a national “Best Community for Music Education,” joining 583 districts out the eligible 14,000 from across the country.
According to the Madison School District website, “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.”
After hearing about this from a parent in the Madison Music & Arts Association (MMA),
Stacy Snider, the district supervisor of Visual & Performing Arts/World Languages since 2007, completed the application on behalf of the district.
“It demonstrates the unparalleled support the music program receives from both the community and the district,” says Snider of this recognition.
The parent run foundation MMA advocates for and supports all the music programs in the district for grades K-12, and the Madison Arts and Culture Alliance community group aims to promote music and the arts in both the community and in the schools.
“With the support of these organizations, our students are a regular presence in the community, performing at numerous events throughout the year,” says Snider. “The community provides a number of different venues around town for student musicians to perform.”
In order to qualify, Snider provided information about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs for The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas to review.
A large portion of the application regards enrollment and support of the programs, at which Madison achieves immensely. In addition to a majority of the district body participating in music activities, Madison offers marching band, MHS and MJS jazz bands, MHS jazz chorus, MHS guitar ensemble, and full-scale musicals for all schools.
This is all made possible through the district’s healthy funding budget.
Snider also credits the teachers and students for their dedication not just throughout the school year, but during the summer as well. For a summer music program, 75 percent of the music staff returns to teach and more than 200 Madison students in fourth through eighth grade spend four weeks of their summers taking classes in band, orchestra, chorus,
and/or guitar. This program then works its way up to a performance for the parents.
“Perhaps most importantly, the summer study affords students the opportunity to accelerate the level of their playing and begin more advanced when school starts in September,” says Snider.
Other performances the district produces are the District Strings, band and chorus concerts. Every other year, all 900 Madison musicians get together on a Saturday in May for “Mega Music Palooza.” Finally, the district also holds “The Arts Matter” fundraiser for which all music faculty members perform on stage to raise money for the schools’
Districts acknowledged by The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM)
Foundation are often perceived as models for fellow educators looking to enhance their
own music education programs.
For Snider and the Madison School District, this is quite the honor.
“There are many other districts where the arts are not held in high regard,” says Snider.
“Often times, art and music are cut when the budget is tight. I have had many parents
over the years tell me the reason they moved to Madison was because of the exceptional
music program and support from the community. Madison is known as an arts town.
Music is a source of pride for the district, and receiving this distinction affirms our belief
that music does great things for kids. Madison is a wonderful place to work, and to feel
so supported and appreciated by the students, parents, administration and community.”