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Baltimore County Public Schools Named Among Nation's Best for Music Education

The school system has more music teachers than any other Maryland jurisdiction.

(Credit: New London Patch)
(Credit: New London Patch)

Baltimore County Public Schools released the following statement on May 5:

Baltimore County Public Schools has been named again as one of the nation’s "Best Communities for Music Education." The 2014 designation was made by the NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing participation in music making.

This year, 376 school districts were selected as Best Communities for Music Education and 92 individual schools received SupportMusic Merit Awards. Baltimore County Public Schools first received the Best Communities honor in 2004 and then has every year since 2006.

“We are quite proud of our music program and all of our fine arts instruction,” said Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance. “It is an essential part of ensuring that our students have a well-rounded education. In our school system, music is mandatory and yearlong for all kindergarten through eighth-grade students because we understand that the arts enrich our students and improve their academic achievement.” 

Baltimore County employs more music teachers than any other Maryland jurisdiction, and students can choose among extensive offerings including courses in electronic music, world music, and Advanced Placement music theory. Students perform throughout the community in choral groups, jazz ensembles, steel bands, orchestras, and marching bands. In addition, partnerships with some of the area’s leading arts organizations, such as the Hippodrome Theater and Lyric Opera Baltimore, provide opportunities to see and interact with professional performers. A partnership with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra allows students to learn from and perform alongside professional musicians, and the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras serves as ensemble-in-residence at a BCPS school, George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology. 

In a NAMM Foundation press release, Mary Luehrsen, executive director of the NAMM Foundation, said, “These schools and districts make a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum, supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child. Strong, engaging programs that offer students access to music cannot thrive in a vacuum. The Best Communities designation and the SupportMusic Merit Award bring hard-won visibility to music classes, programs and departments that are keeping music education alive in our schools.”

Now in its 15th year, the Best Communities program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music education. The NAMM Foundation with the assistance of researchers at The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas (an affiliate of the University of Kansas) evaluate participants on these factors. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and greater access to music education.

Bob Higginbotham May 06, 2014 at 10:18 AM
That's great if music was the end product of the school system. What about real subjects like reading, writing, all types of math and social studies. Why is it that Maryland high school graduates need remedial courses before they can take college level courses at a university because they can't read or write at an acceptable level.
Leo Baal May 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM
First of all, what doesn't constitute music as a "real subject?" Music education actively engages right brain creative thinking skills and problem solving necessary for 21st century learning! 2nd of all, your 1950s Sputnik argument that math, social studies, and reading are the "end" product for an education is severely outdated! 3rd, what statistical data do you have to prove that all college kids need to take remedial courses at college. A blanket statement such as the way you left it is, in my opinion, irresponsible!
susan May 11, 2014 at 11:43 AM
I can't say enough to praise the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology. My soon graduated from there with high honors to go on and complete his Bachelors in Fine Arts at san Francisco Art Institute. He received a well rounded education and learned a strong discipline for his art plus the attitude of gratitude which he shared with younger students. One's creativity is a strong survival skill along with the reading writing and arithmetic. If you actually check out the school you will seed they have magnet programs for writing, visual arts, business administration and music along with culinary arts. It was my son's saving grace and I felt blessed every time he came and went form the school.

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