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2009, July

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MENC’s Music Education Week
MENC’s recent Music Education Week in Washington shined a spotlight on all aspects of music education, from advocacy for school music programs to academies offering enrichment opportunities for teachers. At the heart of it all were performances of all types, from students and professionals alike, in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area. For three days during Music Education Week, MENC presented a broad slate of performances on the Millennium Stage at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

For more information, visit www.menc.org.

New Study on Benefits of Singing
More than 400 leaders in the North American choral community convened recently at Chorus America’s Annual Conference in Philadelphia to discuss findings from The Chorus Impact Study, a new research report released by Chorus America, which shows how children, adults, and communities benefit from choruses. Under the guidance of arts education advocate Eric Booth, Conference attendees from a diversity of ensembles throughout the continent shared experiences that linked critical data points with personal stories illustrating how the studies findings play out everyday in their own choruses.

According to the study, an estimated 42.6 million Americans are singing in choruses, and more than 1 in 5 households have at least one singing family member, making choral singing the most popular form of participation in the performing arts for both adults and children. Greater civic involvement, discipline, and teamwork are just a few of the attributes fostered by choral singing. Choral singers also exhibit better social skills, volunteerism, philanthropy, and support of other art forms, when compared with non-singers.

A few of the current study’s major findings for adult singers include:

  • Choral participation remains strong in America with 32.5 million adults regularly singing in at least one of 270,000 choruses nationwide.
  • Choral singers exhibit higher levels of civic involvement, with choristers almost three times more likely to be officers or committee members of local community organizations such as the PTA.
  • 78 percent of choral singers indicated they “at least sometimes” volunteer their time in their community, while only 50 percent of the general public say the same.
  • 74 percent of choral singers agree or strongly agree that singing in a chorus has helped them become better team leaders or team participants in other areas of their lives; nearly two-thirds agree or strongly agree that being in a chorus has helped them socialize better in other areas of their lives.
  • Choral singers donate 2.5 times more money to philanthropic organizations than the general public.
  • 96 percent of choral singers surveyed who are eligible voters said they vote regularly in national and local elections; only 70 percent of the general public cites the same level of participation.

The 2009 study included a new component that explicitly examined the effects choral singing has on childhood development. The results show children who sing in choirs display many of the enhanced social skills found in adult singers, substantiating earlier conclusions that singing in childhood is likely to have an enormous influence on the choices individuals make later in life.

There are approximately 10.1 million American children singing in choruses today. The majority of parents surveyed believe multiple skills increased after their child joined a chorus. 71 percent say their child has become more self-confident, 70 percent say their child’s self-discipline has improved, and 69 percent state their child’s memory skills have improved. More than 80 percent of educators surveyed across multiple academic disciplines agree with parent assessments that choir participation can enhance numerous aspects of a child’s social development and academic success. Educators also observe that children who sing are better participants in group activities, have better emotional expression, and exhibit better emotional management.

The full report and an executive summary are available online at www.chorusamerica.org.

The NAMM Foundation Awards Music Learning Programs
NAMM announced the 31 recipients of the NAMM Foundation’s 2009-2010 grants program, allocating $848,807 in funding to support community music-making programs, scientific research on the effects of making music, and music programs for seniors, college students and school-aged children. The Foundation reaffirmed it will offer scholarships for the study of music education and business in the year ahead.

The new grants, while only a small portion of NAMM’s overall annual multimillion-dollar-reinvestment into the music products industry, serve an important function by enabling worthy organizations to operate programs designed to increase interest and participation in making music, as well as helping leading universities better understand the outcomes of making music for people of all ages. This important music-brain research continues to help the industry strengthen its marketing messages for why more people should play music. NAMM Foundation Program Grants support innovative community-based music learning programs for people of all ages and abilities.

To find out more, visit www.nammfoundation.org.

NEA Announces Stimulus Grants
This week, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced their direct grants as part of the $50 million federal economic stimulus recovery package. The NEA will distribute $29.775 million to 631 nonprofit arts groups nationwide. This is in addition to the 63 state and regional sub-grants previously awarded in April, totaling $19.8 million. This recovery funding is a direct outcome of the impact made by the 100,000 members of the Americans for the Arts grassroots network who contacted their Members of Congress and wrote timely letters to the editors of local news media.

Over the next few weeks, as these grants are distributed throughout all fifty states, we will begin to see how this stimulus funding has helped to save and create jobs in the arts. Americans for the Arts has set up a Media Alert to share the news with local media outlets about the impact these dollars are making in your community.

For more information visit: www.artsusa.org.

Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, Lowrey Make $25k Instrument Donation
The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (MHOF), a non-profit organization that supports music education programs in schools nationwide, surprised students at the Farnsley Middle School in Louisville, Ky. with the donation of $25,000 worth of instruments to the school’s music program. Farnsley Middle School serves 1,100 6th- through 8th-grade students in the Louisville area. Over 300 music students at the school took part in the unveiling during early morning classes. Farnsley’s current school music program budget is $5,500 a year for both orchestra and band, so the donation came as a well-needed boost to the music program and the students.

The donation was generated by funds raised through Lowrey’s Web site. In March of 2008, Lowrey’s national music organization, L.I.F.E. (Lowrey Is Fun and Easy) established the ‘Kids Need Music’ program designed to bridge the gap between musical generations.

LIFE Members nationwide, mostly retirees, held dozens of auctions, bake-sales and sold orange wristbands to help raise funds so that younger musicians would have the same opportunities to know the joy and accomplishment of making music. The organization chose The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation as the recipient of their fundraising efforts.

For more information, visit www.lowrey.com.

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