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For the 10th consecutive 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.

“This award is given to school districts with a robust, comprehensive music education program across every campus,” McAllen ISD Superintendent Dr. J.A. Gonzalez said. “It speaks to the dedication of our music directors and teachers plus our hard-working students and supportive families. Our music program is one more example of how we provide students with a world-class education.”

The award speaks to the balance in excellence across all music genres and the expertise the district can offer even in the elementary grades.

“In McAllen ISD, every elementary music teacher is certified in music,” McAllen ISD Fine Arts Director Debra Loya said. “We also have widely recognized bands, choirs, orchestras and mariachi programs.”

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

  • Seven state championships for McAllen High Mariachi Oro.
  • Nearly 4,500 students in McAllen ISD middle and high school participating in music programs.
  • 75 percent of McAllen ISD middle and high school students participating in fine arts.
  • 115 McAllen ISD students advancing to state solo and ensemble auditions this year.
  • 11 All-State music students in choir, band, orchestra and mariachi this year.  
  • At least four students each year who have earned All-State recognition in music for 43 straight years.
  • Advanced Placement courses in music at all three comprehensive high schools.
  • Being known for an annual Choral Masterworks Concert which features a choir of more than 100 high school vocalists performing a major choral work; attending Valley Symphony Orchestra Children’s Concerts for third and fifth graders; producing an annual Choral Festival performed by fourth graders; plus producing an annual String Fling orchestra concert featuring more than 1,000 student performers.

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 23rd 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.

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.

In conducting the annual survey, the NAMM Foundation and the Music Institute at the University of Kansas are joined by leading national arts organizations, including the League of American Orchestras; 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.

About The NAMM Foundation:
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