ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Studying music in Roanoke County has come with its perks, and the school district is getting recognition for its outstanding achievements in its music education program.

The NAMM Foundation has recognized Roanoke County Public Schools (RCPS) for its endless commitment to music education with the “Best Communities for Music Education” for the 19th year. Since 2002, RCPS has earned this award and is now in its 24th year of the Best Communities for Music Education designation,

“We are fortunate to have some of the best-performing arts teachers in the state.  We are committed to providing our students with many opportunities to experience the arts,” said Roanoke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely

Since Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 to emphasize a well-rounded education, many school districts throughout Southwest Virginia have recommitted to music and arts education programs. As a result, officials found that in the middle of the national pandemic, music and arts education programs provided a valuable way to keep students engaged in schools.

As districts continued to research music education, the program continued to demonstrate educational/ cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. Researchers found after two years of studying music education, they learned that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech.

The research also revealed that reading scores of less-involved peers and students involved in music are more likely to graduate and attend college.

According to RCPS, children who are musically trained have everyday listening skills that are stronger than those without music training. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound.