Las Cruces Public Schools’ Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

Las Cruces, NM – April 12, 2022 – Las Cruces 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 23rd 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. While 2022 is the second year that LCPS has applied and received this award, LCPS is actually well known across the southwest and the country for its reputation of successful music programs.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Las Cruces 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 with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

In LCPS, we believe that music and the arts benefit the whole child and are an important part of a well-rounded education," said Ralph Ramos, Superintendent at LCPS. "Music and the arts are unique, hand-on learning based classes, that have the special ability to keep students engaged and teach teach them critical skills that help make them better human beings and prepare them for college and career.

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. 

Wendell Oderkirk, a senior who participates in the band program at Centennial High School said, "music is important because it allows students a place to escape the stress from school. My time in band has given me the opportunity to grow as a person and a leader. It has helped me approach situations from many different angles, and as a result it has made me more agile in my decision making, which has prepared me for my professional life. Most importantly however, music has given me the opportunity to make friendships throughout the fine arts department, that will last a lifetime. I will always be thankful for how music education has changed my life for the better." 

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. 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 The NAMM Foundation The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members around the world. 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