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Riverside Unified School District hosted the Making Music in Education Conference

Riverside, Ca -The Riverside Arts Academy, in collaboration with the City of Riverside, UCR Honors Program, California Baptist University, La Sierra University, California StateUniversity San Bernardino, Alvord Unified School District, and Riverside Unified School District hosted the Making Music in Education Conference at the Cesar Chavez Community Center in Riverside. This was a twopart event with a science lecture at UCR for policy makers, community leaders, and the general public on Thursday, October 17, followed by the scientific research lecture and music workshop on Friday, October 18. Hosted by Dr. Richard Cardullo of UCR, also in attendance were Assemblyman Jose Medina, City Manager Al Zelinka and Councilmen Jim Perry and Andy Melendez, Mayor Bailey, School Board Trustees, Brent Lee, Angelov Farooq, Wendel Tucker, and Superintendent Dave Hansen. This conference focused on the integration of music in the classroom, backed by brain research done by Dr. Nina Kraus at Northwestern University. A defined curriculummaking music has been proven to fill the literacy gap.


This event empowered multi- disciplinary teachers without a music background or classroom resources on how to incorporate music into their classrooms. The Conference consisted of live interactive demonstrations by California Teacher of the Year and Disney Educator Susie Hass Kane, and Beth Schwandt and Traivon Williams, music educators in the Alvord Unified School district.  Over 190 teachers and administrators made music with inexpensive objects like boomwhackers, recorders, paint buckets, and drumsticks.

World-renowned Scientist and Professor Nina Kraus from Northwestern University was the Keynote Speaker, and discussed the impact music has on thedeveloping brain, sound research, and how thisimpacts literacyLongitudinal studies have shown why music is vital to bridge the achievement gap, particularly in low income areas.  Her research can be found at Dr. Kraus shared how low income children are at a disadvantage, but with a defined regular music program where students are making music and beats, like what is offered at Riverside Arts Academy in collaboration with their schools, they can rewire the brain and change the trajectory of their learning. Professor Krauss states,” “Research has shown that there are differences in the brains of children raised in impoverished environments that affect their ability to learn,”, we are finding that musical training can alter the nervous system to create a better learner and help offset this academic gap.” She compared the cost of housing prisoners with the costs of music intervention, which has shown to keep students in school and engaged.

RAA President Collette Lee states that we are awaiting test results in RUSD from the 2017-18 school year, to compare with the data from 2017-18.  In RAA the goal is five hours or more of musical training a week, which is accomplished through afterschool programs in the district and on Saturdays at our two Riverside Arts Academy Music Projects, held at Cesar Chavez and CBU.

Jack Mitchell from Sacramento, State Department of Education: Art, Media, and Entertainment, shared the challenges of the implementation of the California Education Code due to prioritization of local control funds and how it fits into the educational system. He noted that the future holds much promise for jobs in the arts and this contributes to our economic stability.

Wendel Tucker, RCOE Board Member, was in attendance, and was quoted as saying that “what was reinforced for me was the connection between music and learning. I was especially impressed with the impact of rhythm, beat and syncopation on reading. The takeaway for K-12 education has to do with scheduling, remediation and curriculum. Here would be my solution; rather than double blocking a student with low language arts and reading scores they should be placed in an interactive and engaging music program such as the ones demonstrated here today.”

A highlight of the conference was a performance by the RAAMP Concert Band, conducted by Music Director, Dr. Gene Moon and 28 students from Bryant, Highgrove, Beatty and Longfellow Elementary Schools

After planning with colleagues on “What are we going todo on Monday?,”  the day ended with a  panel discussion  question and answer session with experts in the field of education including, RUSD VAPA  Specialist Anne Marie Guzy, Associate Dean of Education at UCR, JerMara Davis-Welch Davis,  Alvord  Superintendent Allan Mucerino, Susie Kane, Beth Schwandt, and RUSD Trustee and Board Member Kathy Allavie, also of  the  California  Teacher  Credentialing  program.  Trustee Allavieencouraged “parents to attend LCAP meetings and speak to their Board Members” regarding their desire for more music instruction. Parents, teachers, and leaders were encouraged to be advocates for the prioritization of Local Control Funds that include literacy and music education, a greater understanding of the brain research, and teachertraining on the integration on music in the classroom, as it pertains to literacy.

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