New York City, NY

Music in Public Schools Positively Impacts Academic Performance and Social Skills

Alexandra Gross

Research shows that music helps students in many ways including academics, social skills, and language development. It also provides an outlet for creativity that is important for a child’s overall development and stress relief which is of particular importance after the past two years. In an age of cell phones and social media, music education can help children to focus on teamwork and collaboration as they practice with teachers to perfect musical pieces.

Northwestern University recently conducted a study showing the difference between students who played a musical instrument versus those that only listened to music. The benefits of playing a musical instrument and receiving a music education far outweighed listening to music in the background while doing other things.
American opera singer Norm Lewis emceed the ETM 30th Anniversary Gala which included over 400 people and raised over $1M.Ilya Savenok / Getty Images

While many schools have a robust music education program, there are thousands of students that go without this important instruction. Education Through Music (ETM) is an organization that partners with under-resourced public and parochial schools to provide music education as a core subject for all children. This includes grades K-12. The goal is to use music education as a tool to improve schoolwork, provide motivation for school, and increase self-confidence.
ETM Board Members with Honoree Peter RiguardiIlya Savenok / Getty Images

ETM recently celebrated its 30th Anniversary and announced several milestones including providing more than 7,500,000 hours of music education, 300,000 students in the classroom, 141 partner schools, 39 bands started, 18 school orchestras started, 1,000 student concerts performed, and 7,000 student musicians at the ETM festival.

On June 13, 2022, ETM hosted its annual fundraising gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan. This was the first in-person event in three years and drew a crowd of over 400 people. According to the organization’s press release, the event raised over $1,000,000.
Franklin Fortuna speaks during 30th Anniversary Education Through Music (ETM) Gala.Ilya Savenok / Getty Images

Norm Lewis, the well-known, American opera singer, emceed the event. He also entertained guests with a moving performance of "The Impossible Dream."

Peter Riguardi, Chairman and President of Jones Lang LaSalle's New York Tri-state Region was honored by ETM. In his acceptance speech he spoke about his love of music and how it has impacted his family. He also movingly spoke about his visit to a school to see first-hand the impact ETM has had on students.
Students perform during Education Through Music (ETM) 30th Anniversary GalaIlya Savenok / Getty Images

Of course, there were musical performances that were equal parts exciting and emotional. A standing ovation was given to the 45 choral and orchestral students from MS108 who performed with special guest Wé McDonald. The name Wé McDonald might sound familiar to devotees of the reality show, The Voice. McDonald appeared on Season 11 and was mentored by Alicia Keys.
Students were joined by Season 11 contestant of The Voice, Wé McDonald, who was a guest artistIlya Savenok / Getty Images

The press release included a quote from Janice Weinman Shorenstein, Executive Director of ETM who said, “We are providing children and school communities opportunities to grow, to heal, and most critically at this time, to unite. This gala brings us together in a common mission to sustain and grow this organization so that we can impact the development of thousands more students who flourish under our teaching and tremendous support.”
Janice Weinman Shorenstein, Executive Director with Richard Bernstein, Chair of ETM's Board of Directors.Ilya Savenok / Getty Images
Emcee Norm Lewis, American Opera Singer and Thomas Carroll, a devoted music theater teacher at PS 154, received Teacher of the Year award.Ilya Savenok / Getty Images

Richard Bernstein, Chair of ETM's Board of Directors was also quoted in the press release and said, “ETM was founded 30 years ago to advance equity in NYC schools, driven by the belief that every student deserves access to high-quality music education. It takes an ensemble of passionate people to ensure our work continues to impact the lives of countless students who would otherwise have no music education at school.”

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