Stillwater’s Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

District receives honor for the seventh consecutive year

Story provided by Stillwater Public Schools

Stillwater Public Schools has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Now in its 24th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Stillwater Public Schools answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified by school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“This is the seventh year for Stillwater to receive this honor,” said Superintendent Uwe Gordon. “This is the only Oklahoma school district to do so this year. This speaks to the outstanding and ongoing efforts of everyone in this community to build a strong educational system that understands how important the arts and music are to student learning.” 

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs were a vital component to keeping students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.

“It is an honor to work in a community that so consistently shows such strong support for music education and the performing arts,” says Director of Bands Kevin Zamborsky. “I especially want to thank the incredible music educators that we have in this district – our programs thrive because of them! They work to instill a love and appreciation of music in our students, parents, colleagues, and community members throughout the district. I also want to thank our supportive administrators, from the district level as well as the site levels, for promoting and encouraging our students’ music education. Finally, a monumental thank you goes out to all the students and parents who make our programs what they are!”

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school but also to attend college as well. In addition, everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

About Stillwater Public Schools
Known for excellence in academics, the arts, and athletics, Stillwater Public Schools is a high performing 6A school district in north central Oklahoma. With more than 6,000 students, SPS is home to six preK-fifth grade elementary schools, a sixth and seventh grade middle school, an eighth and ninth grade junior high, a tenth through twelfth grade high school, a ninth through twelfth grade alternative academy, and a virtual academy serving preK-twelfth grade students. For more information, Stillwater Public Schools, please visit

About The NAMM Foundation
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its 15,000 member companies and individual professionals. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit