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Lockport schools win national music education award

LOCKPORT – The music programs at Lockport public schools have been recognized as among the best in the nation.

The National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM, recently announced the Lockport City School District as one of its 476 “Best Communities for Music Education.”

In addition, Anna Merritt Elementary School and Emmet Balknap Intermediate School were honored separately with the NAMM Foundation’s SupportMusic Merit Award. They were among 118 schools nationally to receive that honor for their commitment to music education.

Naomi Moore, an instrumental music instructor at Emmet Belknap, said Lockport had entered the NAMM awards contest several times in the last eight years.

“I really feel like technology put us over the top,” she said. The district obtained a state grant that enabled it to buy iPads and an Apple TV, which can be used to show demonstrations or music notation.

“With an ensemble of 100 students, that’s a big deal. You don’t have to keep photocopying things,” Moore said.

In addition, Lockport has computerized keyboard stations for music students.

But technology wasn’t the only reason for the awards. Moore said other aspects of the judging included the number of students enrolled in music programs, how many received honors such as designations to all-county or all-state bands or choruses, and how active the teachers are musically outside of class.

“All our teachers are active performers,” Moore said.

The district’s 13 music teachers perform in churches or have gigs on the side with jazz groups. Others are members of local organizations such as the Lockport Community Band and the Lock City Glee Club, Moore said, and some give instrumental lessons at their homes.

Lockport is the only Niagara County school district to receive the awards this year. “Schools that have been recognized by the NAMM Foundation are often held up as models for other educators looking to boost their own music education programs,” the foundation said in a news release.

There is no cash connected with the awards. “It’s more for the prestige,” Moore said.

The district’s answers on the lengthy application form were verified with school officials and reviewed by the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.