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Noblesville Schools receives music education honor for 6th consecutive time

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This is becoming quite a pleasant habit for Noblesville Schools.

The school district has been named a 2021 Best Community for Music Education winner by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation for the sixth consecutive year.

“This just confirms what we already know,” said Eric Thornbury, Noblesville High School music department chair and director of bands. “Noblesville music is not just surviving the pandemic, we are thriving. There are some districts that have not been able to even meet in person. We have a hugely supportive administration. For example, NHS principal Dr. Craig McCaffrey recently received the outstanding Indiana music administrator of the year award. I hope all of our students and the Noblesville community realize how fortunate we are to be able to continue music education this year. We are very lucky and very honored to receive this award.

Districts were selected based on music funding, staffing of highly qualified music teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music instruction. The national music education recognition is described as highlighting school districts for their outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders in embracing music education as a part of the core school curriculum.

NHS Jazz 1 class was recently accepted into the highly selective “Essentially Ellington” jazz competition, also known as the “Jazz Super Bowl.”

NHS earned a spot given to just 15 schools across the United States and Canada. Students will perform in the virtual competition, based in New York City and hosted by jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, in June 4-5. The Jazz 1 band has 19 NHS students.

Bethany Robinson, NHS jazz director and assistant director of bands, said finalists were chosen from blind audio recordings.

“The judging panel in New York City had no idea which band was which,” Robins said. “About 10 years ago, I received an Indiana Lily Teacher Creativity Grant to travel to New York and study jazz, where I attended a Band Director Academy and I learned about this prestigious festival.

Robinson said each year since she has had NHS jazz classes have watched a documentary called “Chops” about a group of students working toward this festival. NHS submitted their first audition in 2014.

“We’ve submitted five recordings since 2014, and this was our first time being accepted as a finalist,” Robinson said. “Because of the difficult nature of Duke Ellington music, he wrote for the best of the best in the mid-20th century, many schools would not attempt this music. It’s truly a celebration of student achievement. I’m thrilled for the students. They have been so dedicated and worked so hard, especially in this most difficult year of COVID. The obstacles and roadblocks just make this honor that much more special.”

Robinson said they are already preparing to do some high-end live recorded performances to send to New York, adding an additional song that we will prepare.


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