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In a day and age when music education is drastically losing support and music and arts programs are receiving less and less funding in public schools, it’s not all bad news everywhere. Known as the home of country music, Nashville is a city with a strong foundation centered on music. In fact, visitors often venture into the city just to experience the music that forms the basis for Nashville’s cultural, business and social facets.

In the late 1700s, having successfully disembarked on the shores of the Cumberland River Nashville’s earliest settlers celebrated, with buck dancing and fiddle tunes. The city’s first celebrity was Congressman Davy Crockett, a noted frontiersman who was known far and wide for playing the fiddle and telling colorful stories.

By the 1800s, Nashville had become the national music publishing center. More recently, the Music City is known as the songwriting capital of the world, with songwriters coming from the world over to share their passion for and learn the art of songwriting. The city is also becoming increasingly synonymous with music technology.

To say that Nashville is well-known for its music would be an understatement. Over the years the city has produced some of the world’s great artists. But as tastes change and innovations increase, Nashville is determined not to be left behind, as it turns its hand to music tech…

“The music industry recognises it can’t survive if it doesn’t change,” Heather McBee, an ex-Sony exec who works on Project Music said. “We may be dragging them kicking and screaming, but they know they have to listen.” Via Virgin

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

In keeping with its unequaled reputation, Nashville is also one of the few cities that values and fiercely protects music education. A recent study revealed that music participation is actually on the increase among Nashville students. Music Makes Us is the collaborative initiative in Metro Schools that is credited with this unique growth, with 100 percent music participation at the elementary level in middle school years.

“At a time when some cities are cutting arts programs, Nashville is doubling down,” said Interim Director of Schools Chris Henson. “Music education is bigger than it’s ever been in Metro Schools, and that’s because the district, the city and dozens of community partners are making the investment. Together we are making Music City the number one place for music education.” Via Children First

A previous study revealed that music participation was associated with higher levels of student engagement and achievement. This means that with more students participating in school music programs as revealed in the new study, Nashville students are gaining tremendous benefits over their counterparts in other cities.

“Nashville is Music City, and we know the value of music to our community because we experience it – we hear it – constantly,“ said Mayor Megan Barry. “Music is the very bedrock of our city’s identity, the river of creative expression that runs through everything. And music education in our public schools is where it all starts. Music Makes Us connects the city and our music and business communities to our diverse population of students, providing a foundation for future success and opening doors to higher education, workforce development and a better life.” Via Children First

Music City Walk of Fame Park
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Some of the highlighted achievements of Music Makes Us in Nashville include:

  • 48,700 Metro students are actively participating in music programs
  • Band has been restored to all 33 middle schools
  • 10 new middle school choral programs have been started
  • There are more than 45 new classes on different aspects of modern music available for students

“These results will make any music and education advocate happy,” said Laurie Schell, director of Music Makes Us. “The numbers show a positive trend, students are telling us they love music and our teachers are telling us how to make our programs even better. This study is exactly what we need at this point to ensure progress towards the Music Makes Us goals of access, equity and quality.” Via Children First

What impact does this have on the students involved?

“It taught me that no matter how frustrated you get, you shouldn’t give up,” said one ninth grade student.

“I learned a lot of teamwork, like it’s not all about me, and that applies to other classes. And I’m also learning patience,” said another.

“I’m proud because I wasn’t always a good clarinet player. It’s somewhere I’ve gotten to with just practice and perseverance and not giving up,” said a twelfth grader. “Everything I do, I try to persevere – classroom, anything I do, I think that’s something music has taught me.” Via Children First

With such positive indications, there’s no reason why the same approach cannot be replicated elsewhere. There is still hope for music education.

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