The NAMM Foundation awards school music education programs with the announcement of 2014’s Best Communities for Music Education (BCME).  This year, the NAMM Foundation designated 376 districts as “Best Communities for Music Education” and 96 individual schools as “Support Music Merit Award” winners.  These districts and schools set the bar in offering students access to comprehensive music education.

The BCME program applauds the efforts of teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders working to assure that music education is part of the core curriculum.  This year, more than 2000 schools and school districts participated in this year’s survey.

“These schools and districts make a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child,” said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Foundation executive director.  “Strong, engaging programs that offer students access to music cannot thrive in a vacuum.  The Best Communities designation and the SupportMusic Merit Award bring hard-won visibility to music classes, programs and departments that are keeping music education alive in our schools.”

Now in its 15th year, the BCME program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music instruction.  The NAMM Foundation with the assistance of researchers at The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas (an affiliate of the University of Kansas) evaluate participants on these factors.  Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and greater access to music education.

This year, the Plymouth High School Music Department has been chosen as one of the top award winners and has been recognized as one of the 96 schools from across the country to receive the “Support Music Merit Award” designation.  Only 5 schools in Indiana were selected for this honor.  The band department at Plymouth has seen much success this year with the Pride of Plymouth Marching Band making their first appearance at a Class B marching band state finals and the Winter Drumline’s recent State Champion Runner-Up placing at the I.P.A. State Finals.  The band program has also earned the ISSMA “All-Music Award” for ten consecutive years.  This award is only presented to the top music programs that earn Gold Award ratings at all ISSMA events and competitions.  Plymouth High School also made a commitment this year to hiring a full-time orchestra director so that this program could be included as a full-time class at all three secondary buildings.

“The music department is such a focal point of our school and our community and it is highly supported by the administration at Plymouth Community Schools.  We have worked very hard as a team of administrators and teachers to enable the music department at Plymouth High School to have every opportunity for success,” said PHS band director Bryan Ames.  “When I found out over spring break that we had not only been recognized by NAMM, but had received the Merit Award, I was extremely proud to know that I am a part of such a strong music program.”  Ames also stated that the music booster program at Plymouth was a strong foundation to financially support all of the music programs in the corporation.  “The booster program works tirelessly to make sure that all of our fundraising efforts are strong enough to support such an active program. We have great parents that work hard to financially support our many programs.”

The Plymouth High School Music Department staff members include: Bryan Ames, Director of Bands; Lisa Wallyn, Asst. Director of Bands; Jodi Kallenberg, Director of Orchestra; Parker Terry, Director of Choirs; Nicole Horner and Adam Wright, Color Guard Directors; Kent Arnsbarger and Patrick Gouverneur, Percussion Instructors; Allyson Rader, Piano Accompanist.  The Plymouth Music Boosters fund the stipends for color guard and percussion directors during the fall and winter competition seasons.

Plymouth Community High School offers 2 concert bands, 1 orchestra, 1 jazz band and 1 jazz combo, 3 choirs, marching band, pep band, winter guard, winter drumline, musicals and variety shows, piano lab, guitar lab, music theory and history classes, and an abundance of musical events and competitions throughout the year.

Congratulations to the entire Plymouth High School Music Department, the PHS administration, staff and students, on the national recognition as a “Support Music Merit Award” winner.

Information about NAMM and the award recipients from across the country can be found on their website: