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Our Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

We are proud to announce that our District’s music program has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.  This year 975 school districts were recognized across the country with the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District being one of 37 in the State of Wisconsin to receive this honor.  This is the tenth time that our music program has received national recognition from the NAMM Foundation.  
Now in its 25th 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, we answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music programs, and accessibility to all students. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas,” explains Orchestra Director and Music Curriculum Lead, Mrs. Mary Pat Michels.
“This honor recognizes that our District and our community demonstrates a deep commitment to music education. It’s something we have proudly earned for ten years. Our music educators work very hard to support, encourage and showcase the learning of all students. In addition to everything they do in the classroom and their traditional school concerts, our teachers showcased band, orchestra, and choral performing ensembles in three all district festival concerts in March, as well as Prelude Strings who will featured in their own festival in May  We are grateful for this recognition as well as for the support of the NAMM foundation and all the music vendors they represent who have provided many resources to schools and teachers throughout the country during this very challenging time,” adds Michels.
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 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. There are also many social benefits to music education including conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism. 
“Music education is an important component of our curriculum 4K through 12th grade.  As part of our Equity Beliefs, we work with our teachers to provide opportunities for all students utilizing the Deeper Learning Competencies.  We focus on communication, collaboration, public performance, immediate feedback, and a sense of belonging in Music and Fine Arts, by supporting our children in developing their talents and pursuing things of interest to them. I am proud of the work of our teachers and students as well as the support for our music program that our school board demonstrates.  Their personal focus on making music accessible to all, includes a new music education scholarship in honor of Retired Superintendent Dr. Marty Lexmond’s service to the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District.  We are committed to sharing the West Way, and our music department is a proud example of that,” said Superintendent, Dr. Tarrynce Robinson.

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 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
concert concert 2 
Photos: FLW Choir and Adaptive Music students (November 16, 2024); Combined Mann, FLW and Hale choir students at the City of West Allis Tree-Lighting (December 2, 2023); Nathan Hale Jazz (December 13, 2023); Performing “Typewriter” with the Hale and Central Orchestras at All City (March 6, 2024); West Allis Central High School Orchestra at the Capitol (March 15, 2024).  
Madison photo credit: Greg Anderson, Official Capitol Photographer
West Allis photos: Mary Pat Michels, Kristi Wicihowski & Music Parents