Linden selected among best in music education for seventh straight year

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LINDEN, NJ — Even in a virtual world, Linden’s music education program is the real thing.

Linden Public Schools have been recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation for the seventh year in a row as a “best community” for music education.

Linden is one of 686 districts across the country to be chosen for the prestigious honor for 2021.

The district has been recognized for its outstanding commitment to music education. Linden is one of just 41 districts in New Jersey and four in Union County to be selected.

“This honor is a testament of how valuable the arts are in Linden,” said Matthew Lorenzetti, supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts for Linden Public Schools. “As a district, we are very fortunate to have such strong support from all our upper administration, as well as the Board of Education. We have a staff of music teachers that would do anything for their students.

“This has been extremely evident this past year, as we have all dealt with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to maintaining a safe environment during this time, the focus has been not only on teaching music, but also on the mental health of our students.”

Lorenzetti explained that teachers spent countless hours learning how to incorporate social and emotional learning into the arts, in addition to using multiple new digital platforms to teach and record students, in order to give them as close to a “normal” music education as possible.

“Our students are doing extremely well, despite the difficulties of being mostly virtual and not being able to perform or rehearse in-person in ensembles,” he said.
Now in its 22nd year, the “best communities for music education” designation highlights outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who work together to ensure access to music learning for all students as part of the school curriculum.

“We’re very excited to have received this prestigious honor for the seventh year in row,” said Superintendent Marnie Hazelton. “It is a testament to the dedication of our administrators, teachers and students that we have been able to maintain this level of excellence year after year. Music is always a critical part of our curriculum in Linden, but it was especially vital in the year of the pandemic to give students a creative outlet as they dealt with the realities of COVID-19 and virtual learning.”

The BCME survey was sent to nearly 14,000 school districts across the country, asking 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 Center for Public Partnerships and Research, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

Lorenzetti said he has sat in on numerous classes throughout the year and was very impressed with the level of skills from students, “despite the nontraditional methods of teaching.”

“I could not be prouder to be part of such an extraordinary department,” he said. “I am looking forward to the end of the year, when we will be sharing numerous virtual performances of what our students have been working on this year.”

Photos Courtesy of Gary Miller

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