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Music in Our Schools Making a Difference

The Community Music School has always been committed to making music accessible to the Springfield community. We know that arts education has been proven to make a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child who has been exposed to it, and that quality arts education helps students strengthen problem-solving skills, develop a positive work ethic and pride in a job well done.

That's why we began Community Partnership Programs in the Springfield Public Schools, in support of music education in Springfield's elementary, middle and high schools. The programs have grown substantially since last year after measuring the positive outcomes of music education for public school students.

The elementary school program, called 1st and 2nd Grade String Village, was offered at Zanetti Montessori, Freedman and St. Michael's Academy, where a total of 70 students received weekly instruction in Suzuki violin.

Erik Holmgren, Ed.D., of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, was at the center of the expansion of the String Village program, which he says is about more than music, "It's a holistic academic intervention that relates directly to the development of students' academic performance and also develops executive functioning skills that allow young people to learn, grow, work and persevere throughout their lives."

The middle school program, Sonido Musica, focused on students in grades 6 through 8 with 220 students receiving free violin, viola or cello instruction twice a week. The 2014-15 program expanded the variety of musical instruments offerings to include band instruments.

During the 2013-14 school year (1st year of the program), Zanetti, Forest Park and STEM Academy participated in the program. The results were significant, revealing that student engagement and behavior were positively impacted. School suspensions were down 10.9% for Sonido Musica participants versus a 6.1% increase in suspensions for non-participants. Likewise, there was a 17.4% decrease in disciplinary incidents among the music participants and a 5.7% increase for non-participants.

The state of Massachusetts acknowledges the importance of music education, and in 2014 became the first state to publicly support ensemble music making as a vehicle for youth development and social change.

In only its second year, the Community Partnership Program between the Community Music School and the Springfield Public Schools received a Yale Distinguished Music Education Partnership Award from Yale University—one of 38 given nationally—for its Sonida Musica middle school program.

The Community Partnership Programs with the Springfield Public Schools receive funding from grants, as well as support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council's STARS program, MassMutual Financial Group and Berkshire Bank. The programs are designed in partnership with SPS's Director of Visual and Performing Arts and administrators. We thank these community organizations and the Springfield Public Schools for exposing hundreds of Springfield students to the world of music.