Rockville Centre among nation’s best in music education


The Rockville Centre School District was honored with its first Best Communities for Music Education designation by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation for its outstanding commitment in the arts.

Rockville Centre is one of roughly 4 percent, or 527, of the nation’s districts that were acknowledged in 2017.

Districts are considered for the distinction by appointing representatives to complete a survey and send it to the NAMM Foundation, which analyzes the results with appointed faculty members from the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas. The judges look at a district’s accessibility to music programs, funding for the programs, music education facilities, district and school support and other factors that contribute to music education as a whole.

Rockville Centre offers general music instruction along with band, orchestra and choral ensembles in all of its elementary schools. South Side Middle School and High School offer students the opportunity to explore music composition, sequencing and engineering in modern music laboratories equipped with electronic instruments and computer software and hardware.

The secondary school students also continue to develop their performing skills in higher level instrumental and vocal groups, including jazz ensembles. The high school offers 11th and 12th graders IB music, a comprehensive music curriculum that integrates performance, composition and research at the commencement level.

Students who live in the district have a broad range of opportunities to perform in community-based theatre troupes, bands, orchestras and choirs, as well as county-level advanced performing ensembles.

This year, the district had 34 All-County elementary and high school music students, 16 All-County middle school students, three All-State musicians and two All-Eastern students.

“Rockville Centre has a long history of strong programs in music and the arts,” said Dr. Brian Zuar, the district’s Director of the Arts. “Most importantly, each school has a principal who collaborates with me to facilitate the music program and excellent music teachers who love what they do and are dedicated to the young people.”

Sharon Bryant, the senior project manager who has been with NAMM for 19 years, said that the opportunity to be named a “Best Community” fosters “community pride and recognition from school administrators, board members, parents and community leaders.”

According to Bryant, The Best Communities for Music Education distinction seeks to hold school districts to higher standards when it comes to viewing music education as priority equal to subjects like math or science.

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit that advocates for music education, funds scientific research into the benefits of music on the mind and hosts music-related programs and opportunities. The NAMM Foundation also sponsors the SupportMusic Coalition, which joins music educators, businesses, nonprofits and concerned residents in an effort to bring music education programs to schools and communities that would otherwise not have them.