District named national Best Community for Music Education for 8th time

For the eighth straight year, McAllen ISD has been honored as a national Best Community for Music Education.

The designation is awarded to school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students in all grades. Districts that have been recognized by the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation are often held up as models for other educators.

Fewer than six percent of public school districts nationwide earned this prestigious award.

The award is based on a district’s entire music program from elementary through high school and from campus to campus.

“The NAMM Foundation award is given to school districts that have a very strong and comprehensive music education program in their schools,” McAllen ISD Superintendent Dr. J.A. Gonzalez said. “We are very proud that in McAllen ISD every elementary music teacher is certified in music. McAllen ISD also has widely recognized bands, choirs and orchestras at every middle school and high school campus. Our students continue to perform at a high level each year.”

McAllen ISD has earned many accolades for music. Some of these include: 

Six state championships for McAllen High Mariachi Oro and both McAllen High and Rowe High Mariachi groups are state recognized and received Superior Rating at the UIL State Mariachi Festival. 

Nearly 4,500 students in McAllen ISD middle and high school participate in music programs. 

For the 2020 UIL Concert and Sight-Reading Evaluation this spring, McAllen ISD comprised 24 percent of the performing groups (50 total groups) and won 29 percent of the Sweepstakes Awards (37 total Sweepstakes Awards). Both the percentage and the total are the highest in the region. 

Advanced Placement courses in music at all three comprehensive high schools. 

75 percent of McAllen ISD middle and high school students participate in fine arts. 

Fourth-graders participating in annual Choral Festival each spring.

All 3rd and 5th grade students attend the Valley Symphony Orchestra Children’s Concerts each January. 

McAllen ISD presents an annual Choral Masterworks Concert each May featuring a choir of more than 100 high school vocalists performing a major choral work.  

The McAllen ISD Sting Fling is presented every May featuring more than 1,000 string students.

Melhart’s Music has supported district music for more than 45 years. Melhart’s sponsors several music events in McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley annually. 

In its 21st year, Best Communities for Music Education is a signature program of The NAMM Foundation that recognizes and celebrates school districts and schools for their support of, and commitment to, music education as well as efforts to assure access to music for all students as part of a well-rounded education.

A group of nationally respected organizations act as advisors for the program including: Americans for the Arts,  League of American Orchestras, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, Music for All, Music Teachers National Association,  National Guild For Community Arts Education, Yamaha Corporation of America, Young Audiences and Save The Music Foundation.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, McAllen ISD answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

This award recognizes that McAllen ISD is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of well-rounded education for all children.  

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University a link was found between students in community music programs and life-long academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. In another study from the University, it was discovered that the benefits of early exposure to music education improves how the brain processes and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood.  

Beyond the Northwestern research, other studies have indicated that music education lays the foundation for individual excellence in group settings, creative problem solving and flexibility in work situations, as well learning how to give and receive constructive criticism to excel.  

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. 

About The NAMM Foundation: The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 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 www.nammfoundation.org.